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The Ring Cycle – more sustainable opera

In 2018–2021, the Göteborg Opera staged Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in a production that took our environmental commitment another step forward. We wanted to create a production with more environmentally friendly solutions and to learn how to make sustainability a more active part of our artistic choices. Learn more

A trailblazer

The Göteborg Opera has long been wholeheartedly engaged in environmental issues, and is regarded as a trailblazer in the industry. Many of the changes we have made began as employee initiatives. We’re constantly looking for new areas in which to improve our environmental performance, and thanks to the improvements already made, our energy needs are decreasing annually. Environmental commitment permeates our whole organisation and is evident in even the smallest details, from the type of paint used we use on backdrops, to motion-controlled lighting. The building has district heating and cooling. We have solar panels on the roof equivalent in size to three tennis courts.

The opera house uses green electricity (Bra miljöval). We use green energy in our rented warehouse space, combined with conventional district heating. By making ongoing energy efficiency improvements, such as switching to LED lighting, working in a visualisation studio to make digital prototypes, replacing and fine-tuning our ventilation, and using motion-controlled lighting, we have continuously reduced our energy consumption.

Reuse and recycling are integral to our set designs. We aim to reuse our sets as much as possible, although this can vary significantly between different productions. We use modular systems in which everything can be disassembled and rebuilt. We also build stage elements – such as walls, steps and structures – that can be reused multiple times. Where possible, we use straps instead of adhesive tape and screws instead of glue.

Systematic environmental management

The Göteborg Opera has worked according to the ISO 14001 environmental management system since 2004. This means that our operations meet current environmental legislation and the expectations of our clients, and that we work with sustainability in a systematic, strategic manner every day.

In 2011, our restaurant (including cafés, bars and canteens) was certified according to the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, Svanen. The following year, we took a step further by becoming the first opera house/theatre in the Nordics and the second in Europe to gain our ISO 14001 certification.

Recycled products in the Opera Shop

A bag from Madama Butterfly, a cushion from Cabaret, or a tablecloth from Carmen? Most Main Stage productions at the opera are advertised on a giant cloth banner on the outside of the building. These theatrical artworks, measuring 110 square metres are later repurposed by our costume studio into unique collectors’ items.


As a symbol of our sustainability efforts, the opera house was home to 50,000 bees for several years. This was a logical addition to our offering, given the wonders honey can do for hard-working singing voices, and that bees communicate through dance, just like our own dance company. In summer 2020, the bees were moved to the Garden Society of Gothenburg (Trädgårdsföreningen), where they continue contributing to biodiversity and a sustainable world. Even after the move, their honey is still sold every year in our Opera Shop.

Ongoing projects

There are always areas where we still need to improve. At the moment we are focusing on further reducing energy expenditure and limiting air travel as much as possible.