Royal Swedish Opera

Located in the heart of Stockholm, next to the Old Town, the Royal Swedish Opera, founded in 1773, entertains cultural enthusiasts of all ages. The building, which has a long history, also performs ballet performances on its stages. The Royal Court Orchestra is responsible for the music of the Opera House together with the choir. The opera house, designed by Axel Anderberg, is currently run by Birgitta Svenden. The auditorium in the main stage can accommodate 1,100 spectators thanks to the large flocks. Anderberg has been inspired by the Paris Opera and other major European opera houses, and some of the details are literally copies of them. For example, the mirror hall of the Opera House is reminiscent of the architecture of the Paris Opera.

How do we get back stronger from the current situation?

B.S. We have learned a lot about our flexibility, finding new solutions, supporting each other, how to communicate, and to make fast and clear decisions. These are good findings and learnings that we can use further for development. We will also continue to have a flexibility for our employees to mix work from home and being in the theatre. It should be planned with your closest manager of course but we can see that this is a good way of flexibility which can lead to be more efficient.

How has the Royal Swedish Opera been able to function during a pandemic?

B.S. Most of the work has been made from home, even for the artists. We have used the digital tool as our instrument to prepare for the coming season by having learning and couching processes for the chorus, soli, musician working through teams. During month we also have worked with much smaller groups for example for the ballet. Thanks to our digital channel Operan Play, pay-free, we have produced new material to the audience and has been very successful in keeping the contact with our audience.

We have actually gained a new audience during these years through the entire country, also in age. The economy has been kept in balance due to strong savings and also extra support from the government. We have been able to fulfil all our contract to the free lancing artists either by moving contracts forward in time or full payment now. All meetings has been on teams. The workshops has been able to work most of the time but with strong regulations of distance, testing and staying at home with symtomes. The variety of how many we could have in the audience has been complexed, between 50-300-500 to a full capacity and taken a lot of work, especially for the communication department. It has been stressful time and the leadership of the organisation and all the departments has really been tested in how to manage in such a complexed situation.

What are the prospects for the future of the cultural sector?

B.S. I am a bit worried that the political parties doesn’t quite understand how much work and economy it will take until our sector is fully back in business. We have un upcoming selection in the Fall and this will hopefully show us in what direction out political parties are heading.

How can you contribute to the new world through your own actions?

B.S. It is important to recognize what we have learned and not heading back to old habits and processes. Rather to see how we can have a new approach to the art and to see what we need to change in the way we communicate with the society.  From an all over prospective I think we have managed quite well to keep our work going in our company. Now we have to see how the customers behavior have changed from before the pandemic, shorter planning when it comes to buying tickets which can have a strong effect on our economy.

Has the pandemic created any new norms and practices?

B.S. We have a digital weekly breakfast meeting for the whole organisation where we give all over information about the covid situation, regulations or planning, all the things that are important to know for everyone. We have also presented members of our company, talks about productions or how different people have been coping-working during these days. It has been very much appreciated and we will continue like this after we now are back in the house. You can watch live or later on our web side. We have also been working more focused with our strategic plan and sustainability program as we had more time. That will continue.

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