The Göteborg Opera has always worked whole-heartedly with environmental questions, and can be considered a leader within the performing arts industry. Many of the changes which have been implemented began as ideas from the staff. We are always looking for new areas in which to reduce our footprint, and thanks to each change, we’re reducing our energy needs from year to year. Care for the environment permeates the entire organisation, and is visible in areas both large and small: from which paints we use in the props department, to movement sensors controlling office lighting.
Between 2018–2021 we presented Wagner’s Ring Cycle (Der Ring des Nibelungen) in a production that drove our environmental work even further forward. The four operas which make up the Ring Cycle in fact center around this burning question: exploitation of natural resources and the consequences this has. So this was a perfect chance to present this epic drama in a production with as little environmental effect as possible: a green opera.
Göteborg Opera has operated according to ISO 14001 since 2004 (See the certificate), and our restaurant has been certified with the Nordic eco-label ”Svanen” since 2011. In 2012, the Göteborg Opera – as the first opera/theatre in the Nordic region and the second within Europe – went one step further to become registered for both EMAS-certification (The EU Eco Management and Audit Scheme) and ISO 14001 – so the house became uniquely certified both from international and European quality standards for environmental work. In 2016 we decided to discontinue EMAS-registration since an update of the international ISO 14001 standard covered all of our environmental goals to be covered within the one certification.
The opera house roof was for several years home to 50000 small, winged, buzzing colleagues. Bee-keeping was a logical addition to the house, since honey soothes tired singing voices! Bees also communicate using dance, just like our dance company. Each year we harvest honey to be used in the restaurant kitchens, and sell a small amount in our Opera shop. In summer of 2020 the bees were relocated to Trädgårdsföreningen to better help pollination of the city gardens, in order to sustain floral diversity in and around the city. They of course continue their honey production, as always!
Re-purposed material in the Opera shop
Would you like a tote-bag from Madama Butterfly, a cushion from Oliver!, or a sheet from Carmen? We produce a 100 square-meter cloth banner for almost every Main Stage production, that is displayed on the side of the house during its run. After the finale the banner is re-purposed by our costume department and made into unique, attractive design objects for house and home.
Garbage sorting and recycling
We are continually learning in sustainability classes – and sort everything from office paper, corrugated cardboard, glass, hard and soft plastics, as well as different metals. We also require high environmental standards from our suppliers – for example requiring deliveries in recyclable packaging or re-usable containers. Props and scenery are reused for as long as is possible and safe, and we use a modular system which allows sets to be struck and rebuilt night after night, season after season. Sets are built upon a framework so that walls, moving platforms, stairs and more can be reused many, many times.
Always hunting for improvements
We don't rest on our laurels, but are always trying to improve. Maybe there are better alternatives to the materials most people use? Where possible, we use cloth bands instead of disposable tape, and reusable screws instead of disposable, chemical glues. We use real hair for our wigs instead of synthetically made plastics. Stages also need a lot of lighting, where we use low-energy alternatives where possible. Generally in the house we always choose low-energy alternatives, and lighting is activated (and, more importantly, de-activated) by movement sensors in all large locales and changing rooms. Besides using district heating to heat the house, we now also use district cooling.
Tips and ideas
If you have tips or ideas about how we can further improve, you are more than welcome to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.