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Eventi importanti

(dettaglio)2002 | architectural contest

(dettaglio)2004 | beginning of the construction
(dettaglio)13.12.2008 | opening
premiere of Devils from Loudun by Krzysztof Penderecki


(dettaglio)Romuald Loegler |architetto
Architect, publisher of Architecture and Business, member of the Association of Polish Architects.

Piotr Urbanowicz |architetto
Grzegorz Dresler |architetto


In the history of Polish theatre architecture, the building of the Opera House in Kraków (48 Lubicz street) was the most prestigious investment at the end of the 20th century, since it was the first opera house erected after regaining independence in 1989. The design for the new building for the institution, which had acted in Kraków for 50 years (until that time using the building of the Operetta House, for which, in turn, a former military riding stable from the 19th century had been adapted), was selected through a competition in 2002. The authors of the prize-winning design were Romuald Loegler (one of the most distinguished Kraków architects, graduated in 1964, the recipient of the Honour Award of the Association of Polish Architects in 1994), as well as Piotr Urbanowicz and Grzegorz Dresler. The programme of the competition encompassed the modernisation and the extension of the old edifice. The construction works started in 2004 and were finished in 2008, thanks to financial support from the European Union.

The newly erected opera complex, built on a small plot far from the centre, now has a usable area of 12,000 square metres and consists of three integrated parts: the main building with the stage, the house and a space for the audience; a commercial part with the booking office hall and catering premises; and a building holding the administration and technical infrastructure. In accordance with the requirements of the competition, the old building of the riding stable – the Operetta House was modernised and included in the new structure. Thus the “historical” riding stable houses the main entrance and the foyer; the building, long and low, covered with a semicircular roof, has been faced with green marble. Part of it has been “embedded” in the new block of the central building, covered in aggressive red, housing the main room with an auditorium (designed with no aisle in the middle) and the main stage (443 square metres), equipped with the most modern technical equipment in Poland, including an acoustical ceiling, steered by a computer system, six movable trapdoors and a mobile orchestra pit. The building also houses a chamber room for 180 spectators.

The architecture of the new Opera, modernist in origin, but with clear postmodernist quotations, is composed of three juxtaposed simple blocks. Their expressive colours: the redness of the main building, the green of the former military riding stable and the parrot colourfulness of the administration building in bright green and blue, bring to mind a retail park, and deservedly so, since this architectural concept reflects the new theory of culture defined as a sort of supermarket. The segmentation of the architectural form, which intentionally breaks with traditional, Neoclassical and Baroque architecture of theatre buildings, and their conventional semantics, is accompanied by a clear architectural “joke” on historicism: the pseudo-Baroque redness, a canonical element of old 19th century theatre interiors, has been used as colour leitmotiv of the whole form. In fact, the theatrical redness has “dyed” into the exterior coating and the interior space: the glazed elevation is covered with Bordeaux surfaces, the interior is filled with soft “folds” of walls in cherry, partition walls made of cherry glass, cherry floors and stairs, as well as the walls and the doors of the toilets made of red glass; the seats in the house are made of red-tinted beech and upholstered in red, the panels suspended under the ceiling are made of cherry glass and the numbers of rows, glittering on the floor, are the colour of alloy heated in a blast furnace. Only the foyer is lit by “floating” white pipes, imitating batons frozen in flight. This obsessive, total use of redness is a clear pastiche of the interiors of traditional opera houses and their semantics, with erotic overtures. The redness, being an active colour, the colour of love, blood and passion, completely fills and covers the building destined for culture, thus creating new relations between nature and culture.

In the opinion of users, the building of the Kraków Opera House exploits the natural shape of the land and the pre-existing architecture in an innovative way, forming a new, functional quality. It classifies and organises its functions clearly and economically, providing a model solution of an auditorium for almost 800 spectators and a stage for opera and other musical and interdisciplinary performances, while perfectly using contemporary technology, energy-saving and ecological solutions. However, the originality of this design, whose architect challenged stereotypes concerning the canon of theatre architecture as radically as the avant-garde authors of the Simultaneous Theatre had done several decades earlier, has not been perceived by the receivers. In the 2008 competition for the worst building in Poland, the Opera House in Kraków came in third place.



  1. Kłysik J., Operetka w Krakowie w latach 1945-1960 [w:] „Kronika m. Krakowa” 1959-1960.
  2. Lachowicz S., Dwadzieścia lat Opery i Operetki w Krakowie 1954-1974, Kraków 1975.
  3. Opalski J., 50-lecie Opery Krakowskiej: z dziejów teatru: 1954-2004, Opera Krakowska, Kraków 2004.
  4. Tosza E., … a w Krakowie jest Opera!, Opera Krakowska, Kraków 2008.
  5. Woźniakowska A., Czy Kraków zasługuje na operę? 45-lecie Opery i Operetki w Krakowie, Opera i Operetka  Krakowie, Kraków 2000.



Autore: Marta Leśniakowska

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