Improvement of functionality
of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera

The subsidy agreement was signed on 31 July 2012 by Bogdan Zdrojewski, minister of culture and national heritage and Waldemar Dąbrowski, director of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera.

The project’s objective was, on one hand, to renovate and protect the historical building of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and modernise it by putting in place equipment that improves audience experience (sound and lighting systems, vision transmission from the stage to the foyer) and, on the other, to improve the working conditions of opera and ballet artists (renovation of the stage floor and dressing rooms). The project also envisaged creating an digital culture institution that offers the wealth of the Teatr Wielki’s archives to Internet users, including set and costume designs, posters, and recordings. The projest will thus contribute to enriching the cultural offerings of Warsaw, the Mazowieckie province, and the whole country. 

The project was financed under the Infrastructure and Environment Operative Programme 2007–13; Priority Objective 11 – Culture and National Heritage; Activity 11.1 – Protection and preservation of cultural heritage of supraregional significance. 

All the construction works envisaged by the project have been completed:

  • renovation of the remainder of the facade (as seen from Wierzbowa street)   
  • purchase and intallation of a system for image transmission from the main stage to the foyer and the reception area 
  • modernisation of the auditorium of the Moniuszko Auditorium 
  • moderinsation of the corridors  
  • removal of alpex tiles from office and technical spaces 
  • replacement of the floor of the main stage (stage 2) 
  • modernisation of the floor in the small paint shop 

In 2014 a system of multimedia devices used during performances and rehearsals was installed in the Moniuszko Auditorium and the Młynarski Hall. The Theatre is now equipped with very modern and effective devices to create visual projections used in  almost every production. The Theatre is now also ready to record and transmit its productions, either for internal, record-keeping, or marketing needs.

In August 2014 work was done to the stage of the Młynarski Hall: old elements were removed, while new lighting bridges and modern lighting devices purchased in 2013 were installed and may now cater for modern productions. 

In September 2014 a new sound system of the Moniuszko Auditorium was launched. To run tests we used the scenographies of Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. The new system makes artists’ work more comfortable and creates greater possibilities for sound engineers to explore. It is supposed to give the audience the experience of ‘a perfect auditorium’ where the sound travels naturally, seemingly without the help of any technology. The speakers installed in the auditorium enable multichannel transmission of sound effects to allow the audience to fully appreciate the atmosphere and emotions conjured up by the director. 

In August 2014 a modern digital mixing console was put in place in the sound engineers’ room, on the stage, and in the Moniuszko Auditorium, increasing the quality and comfort of sound engineers’ work.


Bigger scope

In July 2014 the project Improvement of Functionality of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera was extended to include new tasks. An appropriate annex to the subsidy agreement was signed on 21 July 2014. As a result the cost of the project has reached PLN 40 835 213, with PLN 28 306 342 being provided by the EU subsidy.

The additional tasks include:

  • modernisation of the orchestra’s rehearsal room 
  • renovation of the dressing rooms 
  • digitalisation of ballet archives and creation of a searchable database of ballet productions on 
  • maintenance and administration of a system for managing digital resources and provision of an efficient Internet connection 
  • creation of a system of recording and transmission of sound and vision to enable the broadcasting of performances via a streaming service 
  • modernisation of the plafond lights in the foyer 

The modernisation of the orchestra’s rehearsal room significantly improved the comfort of work for the orchestra and choir. The room is now fit to host rehearsals for individual singers and groups of vocalists with the accompaniment of the piano or mechanical music, and orchestra rehearsals for operas and ballets reflecting the setting of the orchestra in the pit in Moniuszko Auditorium and concert setting on the proscenium. This may be achieved thanks to appropriate devices and the room’s acoustics. Now the rehearsal room may house even 180 members of the orchestra, choir, and soloists.

The modernisation of the dressing rooms created more favourable conditions for the ballet artists, musicians, singers, and choir to get ready to release and perform, affecting around 300 artists in total, as well as guest artists working on the premieres. Work was done to 109 dressings rooms, measuring c. 2000 sq. meters in total. During two summer holidays of 2014 and 2015, walls, floors and ceilings of the rooms were repaired and painted afresh, old furnishing and bathroom fixtures in the neighbouring toilets replaced, new carpets and tiling fitted, and soundproof insulation replaced. The rooms were fitted with fireproof, smoke-proof and sound-absorbent doors.  

Digitalised ballet resources available on a searchable database online are an invaluable tool for young people, teachers, journalists, and academics studying the field of musicology, theatre studies, or history of dance outside of Warsaw. The work  follows up on the digitalisation and processing of 7420 sheets of archival documents, many pertaining to opera, and 54 music excerpts, and the creation of a database of selected press reviews and opera performances from 1945–2012. The new website is attuned to the WCAG 2.0 requirements. Also the mobile version of was created, along with a virtual tour of the Teatr Wielki featuring elements of interactive sectional view, 6 ballet lessons, 600 biographic notes of opera artists and a chronicle of the Warsaw opera house. 

Thanks to the new system of recording and transmitting sound and vision, the Theatre may now reach out to a wider audience in Poland and abroad by streaming its ballet and opera performances via its own online service. This is a useful tool for promoting Polish ballet and opera internationally, and is in line with the official cultural policy, which aims, among other things, at creating digitalizing Poland’s cultural heritage and making public domain resources available online. 

The electrics in the area of the foyer was put in place in the early 1960s. As part of the project, the covers of the plafond lights in the foyer – suffering from considerable wear and tear – were replaced with new ones. Apart from upgrading the electrical installation as a whole, the modernisation brought new lightning possibilities, allowing, for instance, for a change of the light’s colour.   

From the beginning of the project we have been implementing a range of promotional activities. To follow the progress of the project and receives any updates, sign up for our newsletter. All the works were completed in October 2015. 

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