Royal Opera House

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Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House
Article Image
The Royal Opera House at Night
The Royal Opera House in the London district of Covent Garden.
Artist Attributed to Peter Suranyi
Year 2009
Dimensions 11.4 cm^2 ( 4.49 in^2)
Location Covent Garden, London


After the British Civil War, only two theaters were instated for 28 years. Those theaters were the Drury Theater and the Royal Opera House. The Opera House burned down twice before the current building was built. Two years ago the Royal Opera House doubled its size and renovated the existing parts of the building. The total cost was over £200 million. The Royal Opera House now has two proscenium theaters and eight dance studios. There are also two sister dance schools that are considered amongst the most prestigious in the world next to France and Moscow.


The Royal Opera House did not start as the Royal Opera House. It was formally called Covent Garden and Theatre Royal. In the beginning in 1732, the theatre was a playhouse. The the fire in 1808 destroyed the theatre. The second Theatre Royal or Covent Garden was designed by Robert Smirke and opened in 1809. Sadly this was also destroyed in a fire in 1856. The theatre which stands today was built in 1858. This building was designed by Edward Middleton Barry,

According to the Royal Opera House history page, during World War II The Royal Opera House was used as a dance hall. Now the Royal Opera House is the home of both the Royal Opera, which was founded in 1946 as the Covent Garden Opera Company, and The Royal Ballet which was founded in 1931 then moved to the house in 1946. [1]

Theater Space

Main Stage

The Royal Opera House Auditorium Stage Left

The original auditorium is used as the main theater. It has over 2,500 seats. The main stage is proscenium style with no apron. The stage is 15 meters square. The orchestra pit can fit 90-109 musicians. The floor of the pit is hydraulic and has three heights. The top level is used for concerts. The second level is used for smaller orchestra shows. The third and lowest level of the pit is used for large orchestra shows. This enables more musicians to fit in the pit and for dampening of the sound so the performers can be better heard. While it was recently redone, the auditorium retains its original renaissance style. It even still has a box for the royal family that was first created for Queen Elizabeth I. There is also an adjoining room for the royal family to eat and wait in before the show.

Linbury Studio

Linbury Studio

The Linbury Studio is the secondary theater used for smaller and experimental shows. It seats 400 guests. This stage is also in the proscenium style.


The Royal Opera House makes all of its own sets off-site in Thurrock. There the sets are fabricated, deconstructed and sent to the theater. Upon arrival at the theater, the tractor trailer holding the pallets filled with the set backs into a massive elevator. This elevator then brings the truck to the unloading bay where the pallets are stored on a conveyor system. This system is then integrated with the wagon system that Rolls Royce designed for the theater. The wagon system allows for extremely fast set changes between shows, only 20 minutes. The stage floor rests on three wagons with the rest of the set on top. The stage has a hydraulic floor system. To switch between shows, the current floor can be raised and transported out of the way allowing the new floor to slide and be lowered into place. That process takes only 40 seconds. The Royal Opera House is one of only two theaters to have this system.


The Royal Opera House would not be complete to make a show without it's Prop department. This includes of team of artists, sculptors, engineers and welders. Mostly all of the props are made in this department or acquired from warehouse storage. Beautiful props complete the performances and a lot of work goes into each production. Anything can be made and anything can be changed to look like something it isn't. For example, plaster, molds, and paint can be made to look like food. [2]

Lighting & Projections

Unlike many theaters, the Royal Opera House has their lighting fixtures located in a panel that can lower from the dome of the roof. When the lights are not needed for a show, the panels retract and blend in with the rest of the dome. This concept was to keep the proscenium free from truss and fixtures that would distract the viewer from the performance or obstruct their view. When the renovation was being done on the theater, the ETC lighting company received the contract to provide and setup numerous fixtures, consoles and a house control system. They also have lights on the back stage batons so that the dancers and singers can see on stage.


When the theater was rebuilt two years ago, the sound designers decided to remove the carpeting from the stairs and floors. This was to give the theater better acoustics because the singers or instrumentalists do not use microphones. There is not much need for a sound system for the operas and ballets because the performers do not have microphones and the music is provided by the orchestra.


The Royal Opera House makes all of their costumes in house. There are three sub-departments in their costume department. The first is in charge of creating costumes for the first performance of a show. The other two departments are in charge of care, maintenance and organization of the costumes. After the first show, costumes become their responsibility. They take care of laundry and mending any damage to the costumes. After a show has completed its run, costumes are then put into storage off-site until the next run of the show. Properly stored and cared for costumes can last for decades of use.


Pygmalion (1734)

Performance Summary



  1. History. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2017, from
  2. Props to you! Prop-making tricks of the trade revealed - Royal Opera House. (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2017, from

External Links

Royal Opera House Official Website