Magical opera for everyone
Fredriksten is the perfect setting for outdoor opera and the historic surroundings greatly contribute to giving the audience a unique and spectacular experience!
The history of Opera Østfold started when Østfold county chose Fredriksten fortress as a county site for the period 2000 – 2005. One of the sub-projects in the county council was to create a meeting place. Then the goal of the sub-project fast became converting Fredriksten’s fortress from a military arena into a national and international cultural arena.
A new opera was commissioned by Trygve Madsen with Jon Bing as a librettist in collaboration with The Norwegian Opera and the Centennial Anniversary – Norway 2005. The opera was named Aurora.
The storyline was taken from The Great Nordic War at Fredriksten Fortress in 1718, and Aurora had its world premiere outdoors at Fredriksten Fortress in June 2005. Østfold county was the main producer in close cooperation with The Norwegian Opera and Halden municipality. The production was a success and over 8,000 people came to see the performance. Due to this success there was great enthusiasm when Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi entered the stage two years later in 2007.
Success and district operation
As a result of the two successful productions, Halden Municipality and Østfold County took the initiative in 2007 to establish Opera Østfold at Fredriksten Fortress. An equal cooperation between the two parties led to the establishment of Opera Østfold at Fredriksten Festning in January 2008. Opera Østfold gained the status of District Opera with support from the Government Budget from 2009.
Opera Østfold’s first production as a District Opera was Turandot by Puccini in the summer of 2009, and the opera had a full house at every performance. Mona Levin wrote after the performances:
“With this production of Puccini’s great work, Turandot, they have probably set a new standard for outdoor opera productions in Norway.” (Aftenposten, 15.06.09).
After the success of Turandot, Opera Østfold consolidated it’s position as a district opera and as an intermediary of outdoor opera to a large audience in the spectacular surroundings of Fredriksten Fortress. Carmen (Bizet) in 2011 was followed by Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco at Fredriksten Fortress in June 2013, and Puccini’s Tosca in 2015 – which also received brilliant reviews. In 2017, The Magic Flute by Mozart had a full house on two of three performances and in 2019 Il trovatore was a great artistic success.
Opera Østfold has a unique position in the market. Our grandstand, with its 2.800 seats, is the largest grandstand in Norway. This gives us the unique position as “Norway’s largest open air opera”.
We have a fantastic arena that in itself is breathtaking which is the 8th most visited tourist attraction in Norway with approx. 300.000 visitors a year. This builds a solid platform for the overall experience and creates a spectacular visual framework for the performances.
In 1999, Østfold county municipality chose Fredriksten fortress to be the symbol of the millennium and this increased the fortress’s importance both as a cultural arena and a meeting place. Today, it’s Østfold’s largest and most important outdoor cultural arena, and every year Fredriksten is visited by more than 300,000 people. In addition to the open-air opera there are several other events such as:”Allsang på Grensen”, car exhibitions, a food festival and a huge Christmas market every year. The long and patriotic history that are hidden in the walls surrounding til fortress gives the arena a unique atmosphere.
Fredriksten was built after Båhuslen was lost to the Sweedes by the peace with Roskilde in 1658. There was a need of a new strong fortress by the border, and for almost 250 years Fredriksten has protected the border to the south. Fredriksten’s importance in the formation of Norway as his own state can hardly be overestimated. The fortress has been the site of some of the most dramatic and bloody events in Norwegian history, and is therefore an important national cultural monument. In 1718, the Swedish king Charles XII was defeated in front of the fortress walls. Fredriksten has been under attack many times, but never conquered in battle. As the locals says with pride: “Often besieged, never defeated!”
The fortress shares its glorious history with its residents of Halden, and the locals feel a strong ownership to the fortress. Fredriksten’s large arenas provide space for large popular events and for quiet walking in the special surroundings. And families and children bring their sledges and enjoy the slopes as soon as the first snow has fallen.
The fortress is still owned by the Ministry of Defense and it’s a military honorary building. Which means that it has its own commandant and that a salute is fired on solemn occasions.
Today the fortress has a modern hotel, camping site, several restaurants and banqueting rooms. The area offers many kilometers of walkways, nature trail, fortress trail and playground. In the inner fortress there is a museum, tourist office and free audio and light display every night.
Fredriksten is the perfect setting for outdoor opera and the historic surroundings greatly contribute to giving the audience a unique and spectacular experience. But Fredriksten has a lot to offer in addition to opera and we recommend that you come again and that you experience all that the fortress can offer.
Choirs and orchestras
Göteborg Opera Chorus
The chorus consists of 46 singers, all of whom have had several years training at music or opera conservatories. Chorus singers often perform solo parts. The chorus is not only known for their musical talents but also for their acting abilities.
The chorus participates in operas, musicals and concerts. Many performances are given in their original language. So, apart from thorough musical study, language lessons are also part of the chorus members’ preparation.
The Norwegian Wind Ensemble
The Norwegian Wind Ensemble (Det Norske Blåseensemble) is a unique orchestra in today’s cultural life. It is the only civil ensemble of its kind in Norway, composed of 24 professional musicians and an administration of eight people.
The ensemble is based in Halden and it dates back to 1734. This makes it the oldest orchestra in continuous operation in Norway. As Norway’s oldest orchestra, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble chooses to immerse itself in historical performance practice with a focus on the period from the Renaissance to the Vienna classics. The Norwegian Wind Ensemble has in recent years also paved the way nationally and internationally for new music with improvisation as a main element of the expression, always with classic references as frameworks. The ensemble enjoys a very good cooperation with Opera Østfold and has also a close cooperation with Den Kulturelle Skolesekken.
Wermland Opera Orchestra
In the middle of the beautiful county of Värmland you find Wermland Opera. Wermland Opera is one of the six opera institutions of Sweden.
We provide local audience as well as national and foreign guests with a wide variety of concerts, operas and musicals. Our aim is to always deliver productions of the highest quality, no matter which of our three art forms we present.
Our goal is to deliver our productions beyond expectation; to touch and enrich our audience! We offer a wide variety of shows and events of international standard on offer in our regional Opera House. Tours produced in-house span the county of Värmland and occasionally the productions venture further afield, to stages across Sweden and abroad. Outreach projects are run for children and young people throughout the year.
Wermland Opera was founded in 1975 and currently employ 70 permanent staff including 5 singers and 35 orchestra members. The company also offer temporary work for many freelancers from all around Sweden and abroad.
Since 1994, the Opera has been located in Spinneriet, the old spinning factory in Karlstad. It has a small stage, Lilla scenen, that can welcome 240 audience members along with several rehearsal spaces for singers and the Wermland Operas orchestra. There you also can find all our workshops; departments for sewing, carpenters, blacksmith, painting, props and attributes, lighting, mask and wigs as well as the office of administration.
The nearby main stage, Stora scenen, with 397 seats at Karlstad’s Theatre is also the location of the main boxoffice.
The performance lasts for two hours. It starts precisely at 22h30 and lasts until 00h30 and plays with no breaks. The performance starts late at night because we want to make the most of the light. The arena is big so we recommend you to arrive early enough to find you seat in time, even in bad weather.
It can be an advantage to prepare yourself by reading the synopses of the opera before you arrive. Read the synopses for The Flying Dutchman here.
The performances are mainly done in its original language. There are several test machines at the stage that will make it easier to follow the action, but translated into Norwegian. We encourage the audience to read the action in advance so that the experience of the show becomes even greater.
It is allowed to be excited and to show as an audience that you are, even when it is an outdoor opera. If you like what you hear, please show it by clapping. If that is not enough, you can shout BRAVO, whistle or tramp your feet to the ground. But please wait until the singer has finished his or her arie. In addition, it is usual to clap between the acts and after the performance has ended.
In Norway we have a saying: There is no bad weather – only bad clothings. We recommend you highly to dress for the weather. It can get chilly at midnight in early June. For those who are frozen we endorse you to bring a blanket or to buy one inside the arena.
Umbrellas are forbidden during the performance. The reason is that an umbrella will block the view of the person sitting behind or next to you.
Therefore, we suggest you bring rainwear or rain ponchos. Plain ponchos are sold inside the arena before the show. Otherwise, rain ponchos can also be purchased in a wide variety in different stores across the country.
Food and beverage
The sale of finger food and drinks inside the arena starts at 8 PM. If you want to have a more culinary experience at the fortress before the show it’s possible to book tables in four different restaurants at Fredriksten fortress.
You will find toilets of high standard inside the arena.
Seat pads and fleece blankets may be purchased inside the venue. These are products that can help you stay warm and comfortable throughout the performance. Cups, nets and rainponchos are also sold in the arena.
We accept all major credit cards, and cash, inside the arena.
Please note: Only cash is accepted for parking.
The train company VY provides service between Oslo and Halden every hour, in both directions. The journey takes about 1 hour 45 minutes. Please visit www.vy.no for an updated timetable.
There are also trains from Gothenburg to Halden by Svenska Järnvägar. Please visit www.sj.se.
Oslo – Halden
The distance between Oslo and Halden is approximately 120 km and is a 1 hour and 20 minute drive.
Follow the E6 towards Gothenburg. Take exit 2 onto highway 21 towards Halden.
Follow highway 21 for about 10–15 minutes. Road signs to Fredriksten Fortress will guide you the last distance.
Gothenburg – Halden
Follow highway E6 towards Oslo. After entering Norway, take exit 2 onto highway 21 towards Halden.
When entering Halden, follow road signs to Fredriksten Fortress.
It is possible to park at designated spaces and areas at the entrance to Fredriksten Fortress. It costs NOK 50 and is paid in cash to the parking lot attendants.