Iceland will stage Valkyries without enough room for an orchestra

Iceland will stage Valkyries without enough room for an orchestra


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2021

Icelandic Opera will stage the national remiere of Die Walküre at Harpa Hall in Reykjavík on 24 February 2022.

Only one problem:  Harpa Hall has a tiny pit so the players of the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra will have to sit on stage among the singers.

Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir, CEO and Artistic Director of The Icelandic Opera, shares her thoughts: “It is of vital importance to us to be able to share this Wagner production with Icelandic audiences now that the future has started up again, and to provide the opportunity to experience this magnificent opera with a stellar cast. We shall have to disappoint Wagner by placing the orchestra on the stage, but not the audience!”  She concludes with further optimism: “Hopefully there will be more Wagner to come at Icelandic Opera in the near future. 


  • love the arts says:

    great ! that s what we call enthusiasm and love for art and music.

  • Gary Freer says:

    They’ve got to put the freezers full of pizza and frozen peas somewhere

  • Emil says:

    I think I remember a Dutch National Opera performance on DVD (with Hartmut Haenchen?) where the orchestra sits in the middle of the stage, between the staging elements.

  • Una says:

    Opera North made it work admirably in Leeds Town Hall as there is no opera house or other hall in Leeds, as a major British city, that would take the orchestra. Parsifal in May, and it will be wonderful.

  • George Daugherty says:

    The reference to Harpa Hall’s “tiny pit” doesn’t do justice to the magnificence of this glorious venue. Harpa Hall is a stunning contemporary new concert hall, not small … almost 2,000 seats. But it is not an opera house or proscenium theatre. So like Disney Hall, or Davies Symphony Hall, or Philadelphia Orchestra’s Verizon Hall … or Carnegie Hall or Chicago’s Orchestra Hall or Severence Hall, or any other purpose built concert hall, there is no proper orchestra pit. So the “tiny pit” should not be looked at as a detriment, or something they didn’t take into consideration. I’ve conducted there, and actually I don’t think there is a pit at all, except maybe the front lift for bringing up concert grand pianos, chairs, stands, etc. Anyway, any classical music lovers who are unfamiliar with Harpa Hall should google it. It’s an extraordinary architectural masterpiece. And very grand, in a totally — and distinctly Icelandic ——contemporary way. I’m sure Die Walkure will be stunning there, with musicians on stage!! Just being in this hall is worth a trip to Iceland!

  • Lausitzer says:

    Same problem with the 104 square metre pit in Dresden until a modification in 1996 made it possible to extend it to 140 square metres if needed. Thus in 1986 the same solution for Elektra, staged by Ruth Berghaus.