Royal Swedish Opera



by Alice Lechner
June 27, 2023
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Known also as Kungliga Operan, the Royal Swedish Opera is Sweden’s national opera company. It is located in Stockholm and has a long and prestigious history dating back to its founding in 1773. 

The Opera Company was founded with the Royal Swedish Academy of Music by King Gustav III and its first performance, Thetis and Phelée with Carl Stenborg and Elisabeth Olin, was given on January 18th, 1773. This was the first native-speaking opera performed in Sweden. Although, the first opera house was not opened until 1782 and served for a century before being replaced at the end of 19th century. The history of the Sweden Opera can be divided into two main periods: The Gustavian Opera and The Oscarian Opera.

The Gustavian Era

From the late 18th century to the early 19th century, the opera house experienced a period of innovation and artistic development. King Gustav III was an ardent patron of the arts and saw the establishment of an opera company as an opportunity to elevate Swedish cultural life and establish a national artistic identity. 

Construction of the theatre began in 1775 and was inaugurated on September 30th, 1782 with a performance of Cora och Alonzo by Johann Gottlieb Naumann. The building was very imposing with its center Corinthian tetrastyle portico supporting four statues and topped by the royal crown. The four-tiered auditorium was oval and had excellent acoustics and sight lines. The sumptuous foyer contained neoclassic medallions and pilasters.

King Gustav III was greatly influenced by Italian culture, particularly Italian opera. He invited prominent Italian composers, singers and musicians to the Royal Swedish Opera, infusing it with the Italian opera tradition. Moreover, King Gustav III implemented several reforms aimed to improving the quality of productions and elevating the status of the opera.

King Gustav III had a close relationship with the composer Christoph Willibald Gluck. Gluck’s operas, known for their reformist approach, became a main point of the opera repertoire during the Gustavian Era. The friendship and the collaboration between Gustav III and Gluck helped shape the artistic direction of the Royal Swedish Opera.

The Gustavian Era was characterized by elaborate masquerades and theatrical spectacles. King Gustav III himself was a passionate participant in these events. During a masquerade on March 16th, 1792, the King was shot and died 13 days later. This tragic event for the Swedish society inspired the operas Gustave III by Daniel Auber and Un ballo in maschera by Giuseppe Verdi.

The Gustavian Era left a lasting legacy on the Royal Swedish Opera. The era is often remembered as a period of cultural enlightenment and artistic innovation in Swedish history.

Following the assassination, the opera house was closed until 1 November 1792, when it was opened again. Because of the murder of his father, Gustav III, King Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden, decided to close the opera. It remained closed until 1809.

The Oscarian Era

In 1860, during the latter part of the 19th century, the Royal Swedish Opera moved to a new location, as the previous opera house had burned down. The new opera house was designed by architect Axel Anderberg and is the same building that is still in use today.

The exterior of the new building was built in a neo-Renaissance style, while the staircase, foyer and auditorium were designed in the neo-Baroque style. Marble from Norway was used to adorn the entrance hall, to symbolise the union with the neighbouring country. The magnificent Guldfoajé (Golden Foyer), with ceiling paintings by Carl Larsson, is reminiscent of the Palais Garnier in Paris.

The new Opera House was inaugurated by Oscar II on September 19, 1898. Operas by Swedish composers were performed on the night of the inauguration. First, Adolf Fredrik Lindblad’s The Rebels, then scenes from Franz Berwald’s Estrella di Soria and finally a newly composed inaugural cantata by Ivar Hallström as a tribute both to the glories of the past and the old building itself. The 1898/1899 season continued on the Swedish theme, with Wilhelm Stenhammar’s Tirfing and Andreas Hallén’s Valdemarsskatten (The Valdemar Treasure) as the two premieres of the season. 


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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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