After seven years of refurbishment works the Staatsoper Unter den Linden was re-opened on October 3, 2017. The Neo-Palladian façade designed by Knobelsdorff now sports the same rose hue as it did when it was ﬁrst built – based on a scientiﬁc analysis of the building fabric. In terms of the visual and acoustic effect of the interior, the crucial question was whether to keep the auditorium as it was rebuilt in the East German era or realize a completely new audience space. In the end, the decision was made to rework and optimise Richard Paulick’s version. The stage equipment was completely renewed, and the back stage area was enlarged. The assembly and storage space required for repertory productions was created by adding a large underground assembly and warehouse building adjoining the main structure to the east was added. The former stage set warehouse was transformed into a rehearsal centre for choir and opera. The director’s building (Intendanz) at Bebelplatz has been carefully restored in accordance with the historic preservation. The workshops were relocated to Bühnenservice Berlin/Stiftung Oper Berlin near the Ostbahnhof station.
The building housing the Berlin State Opera, Staatsoper Unter den Linden, was erected around 275 years ago as part of Prussian King Frederick the Great’s town planning concept for a new royal residence in Berlin – the Forum Friedericianum. Following the damage sustained in the War, the opera house was rebuilt according to plans by Richard Paulick in the 1950s. Another 50 years later it required extensive structural and technical refurbishment: Crucial parts of the water hydraulic system of the lower stage machinery dated back to the years 1926/28. The sound of the auditorium was too dry and its reverberation time too short; in addition, many seats did not provide a good view of the stage. The Senate Administration for Urban Development held a restricted competition for the overhaul of the auditorium in 2008. The first prize went to Klaus Roth Architekten for a complete redesign of the hall. A controversial debate ensued surrounding the preservation of the Neo-Baroque auditorium built in the former East German era. In 2009 a restricted tender procedure was conducted based on the assumption that the historical auditorium would be preserved, with a concept by hg merz Architekten being most convincing.
In order to improve acoustics, the ceiling of the hall was raised by five metres. This made it possible to install a reverberation gallery above the third circle. The hall and the raised ceiling are visually linked through a delicate grid construction made of ceramic and fiberglass in a diamond pattern. The modern ventilation system was installed into the historical structure carrying the roof above the Apollosaal.
The entire historical stage machinery was removed. The fly tower had to be elaborately protected against damage from ground-water pressure from below. In order to seal off the area a steel trough was built into the lower floors of the stage construction, while the auditorium was given a floor of underwater concrete. An underground structure spanning 115 metres connects directly to the stage house and provides space for storing and assembling stage sets, as well as for building services.
The underground structure leads to the old storeroom, designed by Paulick in the early 1950s in the style of Knobelsdorff. An acoustically optimised rehearsal centre for the orchestra and choir was created on one third of the site behind the listed façade. The director’s building with the administrative areas is located to the north. The remaining third of the old storeroom building is used as a separate concert hall by the Barenboim-Said Akademie.