In this programme we follow the protracted evolution of Oslo's new Opera House, with its many tortuous political, architectural, constructional and artistic complications, from the decision to build right through to the opening ceremony in April 2008.
Many citizens of Oslo now take a Sunday stroll on the building's gently sloping marble roof or drop in to admire the resplendent foyer. Primarily, however, the building is the Norwegian Opera & Ballet's own personal cathedral. Norway is now the proud possessor of a large auditorium with first-rate acoustics, an all-purpose orchestra pit and state-of-the-art stage machinery.
Construction work, which commenced in 2003, made heavy demands on all concerned. From beginning to end, teamwork was of the essence.
We have visited the quarry in Carrara in Italy where the marble was quarried, attended auditions under the baton of Zubin Mehta in Munich and filmed the weaving of Pae White's stage curtains in Belgium. We have also been in western Norway to visit the boat builders responsible for the oak that embellishes the interior and the glassworks near Oslo where the glass for Norway's largest chandelier was cast.
But first and foremost the programme centres on the imposing building itself, which was designed by the world-renowned Norwegian firm of architects Snøhetta. Snøhetta was also responsible for the prestigious new library in Alexandria, Egypt, Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
Inspiring though it is, the Opera House also presents a challenge both for the management and for the close on 600-strong staff of the Norwegian Opera & Ballet, as the company is now known.
Although the artistic standard is already high, it is planned to double the number of performances and to extend the number of stages in use. We are afforded an insight into the challenges that faced the General Manager as work progressed, along with some of the unforeseen obstacles that had to be overcome. Exacting demands are made of the company's artistic profile: quality must be maintained overall and new works introduced.
We also attend rehearsals of the opera Around the World in 80 Days and of newly composed ballets, and go backstage to watch rehearsals and a performance of that well-loved ballet Sleeping Beauty, which was staged in the opening season.
Prize winner at the 27th International Festival of Films on Art, Montreal 2009.