The transition of the Greek National Opera to its new home, the SNFCC, introduces a new chapter in its long history. At its new premises, the GNO is able to further develop its multifaceted activity as an artistic and educational organization: opera, ballet, experimental projects, activities for children, educational programs, preparation of a new generation of dancers and community activities compile a wide spectrum of activities.
The new premises of the Greek National Opera, covering an area of 28,000m², constitute one of the most important contemporary lyrical theaters internationally. The space’s organization and design together with its state-of-the-art technical capabilities enable the GNO to host even the most demanding opera and ballet performances, offering unlimited potential.
"We imagined the opera house from the start as an open place, providing facilities for all kinds of music. Each space in this project has a manifold, complex function". - Renzo Piano
The Stavros Niarchos Hall, with a maximum capacity of 1,400, is comparable to the best contemporary opera houses in Europe. The scale and proportions of the space serve the proper relation of the viewer with the event. The hall has been designed in line to very high acoustic standards. The space has a horseshoe shape, and contains the large volume required for acoustics. It features three balconies and a parterre around the orchestra. The parterre and the balconies are lined with curved acoustic panels made of American Cherry wood. The form and volume of the wood paneling, including that of the roof, was determined by the acoustic requirements of the space. Acoustics can be varied by altering the end walls with acoustic curtains, adjusting the room for different acoustic parameters.
Long and arduous effort was devoted to designing the seating, which varies depending on its location within the hall, to ensure the best sightlines. Five types of seating were designed, with three different heights and three different inclinations. The use of the red color on the walls (Anigre Wood stained red) is a reference to the traditional red velvet of opera houses, though the architectural minimalism and the materials and styles employed, imbue to the space a contemporary feel.
Yet another element that enforces this feel is the replacement of the traditional chandelier with a mobile sculpture by Japanese artist Susumu Shingu. Entitled Cosmos, the artwork is accompanied by the phrase: “Time flows leisurely in the vast expansion of space.” Shortly before the performance commences, the sculpture moves upwards.
The roof has a characteristic curve resembling a smile, used to conceal technical and lighting equipment in a smart way. The stage of the Stavros Niarchos Hall measures 16x16m. In addition, there are two side stages and one rear stage of the same dimensions. The multiple stages and automated mechanisms allow for the swift and easy change of sets for performances. The Stage Tower stands 44 meters tall. The special ballet floor is stored vertically inside the stage tower and can be laid out in a matter of minutes. The orchestra pit can host up to 115 musicians. Its size can vary depending on the requirements of the occasion.
The Alternative Stage, with a maximum capacity of 450 seats, is designed to provide directors and set designers with multiple options. It is essentially a simple orthogonal space, a black box, surrounded by two tiers of balconies designed both for viewers and for technical support during the performances. The wall is lined with acoustic curved panels of wood (American cherry) which reflects the sound, thus shaping the acoustics of the space. There are also acoustic curtains on the balconies used to modify the acoustics depending on the particular requirements of different kinds of productions. In order to add to the options for the layout of the space, the seats of the Alternative Stage are of either free placement or placed in a telescopic arrangement, while they can even be completely removed with the push of a button, transforming it into a unified and indivisible space.
A moving sculpture made by aluminum and fabric is suspended at the GNO lobby's roof. Created by Japanese artist Susumu Singu, it is entitled Epic accompanied by the phrase: “Released from daily life, joy and expectation gradually increase”.
The Rehearsal Rooms are located on the fifth level of the GNO building. They include: