The history of Opera Østfold started when Østfold county council chose Fredriksten fortress as county council site for the project period 2000 – 2005. One of the sub-projects in the county council was the meeting place. The goal of the sub-project was to start work on converting Fredriksten’s fortress from a military arena to a national and international cultural arena.
In collaboration with The Norwegian Opera and the Centennial Anniversary – Norway 2005 a new opera was commissioned by Trygve Madsen with Jon Bing as a librettist. The opera was named Aurora. The storyline was taken from The Great Nordic War and Carl XII case at Fredriksten fortress in 1718. Aurora had its world premiere outdoors at Fredriksten Fortress in June 2005. Østfold county municipality 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 G. Verdi entered our stage in 2007.
Success and district operation
As a result of the two successful productions, Halden Municipality and Østfold County Council took the initiative in autumn of 2007 to establish Opera Østfold / Fredriksten Fortress. An equal cooperation between the two parties led to the establishment of Opera Østfold / Fredriksten Festning in January 2008. Opera Østfold gained the status of District Opera with support over the State Budget from 2009.
Opera Østfold’s first production as 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 its position as a district opera and as an intermediary of outdoor opera to a large audience in the spectacular surroundings of Fredriksten Fortress. The Opera 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 will enter our stage.
Opera Østfold has a unique position in the market. Our amphitheater, with its 2,800 seats, is the largest amphitheater 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 and also the 8th most visited tourist attraction in all of 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.