State Opera 'Unter den Linden' Berlin: Entire Stage Technology by Waagner-Biro

2. Oktober 2017 – Vienna/Berlin: Tomorrow, October 3rd, 2017, the State Opera Berlin will be re-opened after several years of extensive renovation. The traditional opera house, which originally opened in 1742, was rebuilt several times in its more than 250-year history - due to fires and war damage. This happened most recently in the 1950s, according to the plans of the architect Richard Paulick (1903 - 1979). In 1979, the State Opera Berlin has been declared a Historic Monument.

After more than 50 years of operation, there was now a need for renovation work for the building complex (auditorium, stage, underground building, rehearsal center, management). The objective was not only to carefully renovate the building, but also to make technical adjustments to a modern performance operation. For example, the volume of the auditorium was increased by raising the monument-protected ceiling.

The extensive stage technology of Waagner-Biro consists of the complete upper machinery, the proscenium, various installations in the auditorium as well as a highly modern under stage machinery with a multiplicity of platforms and also a stage wagon system. The simple control of this complex system with approx. 280 drive axles functions using the proven CAT control system from Waagner-Biro.

Project of new dimension

For Waagner-Biro stage systems, this project was one of the largest in the company's history. Not only the complex technology, but also the structural conditions were a great challenge.

After the opening ceremonies between 30.09 and 8.10.2017 - the official opening takes place on October 3rd - the doors of the State Opera Berlin will be closed again for a few weeks to carry out remaining renovation works. The regular operation will resume on December 7th, 2017, on the occasion of the 275th anniversary of the opera house.

Extensive modernization of stage technology

After the expansion of the existing stage technology, the building was first secured with anchors to prevent flooding. Next, a steel plate seal of up to 3.2 cm thickness was inserted. This principle of sealing comes from shipbuilding.

At the same time, the steel structure was moved parallel to the outer walls of the stage tower, which carried the loads of the upper machinery as well as the roof itself into the piers of the existing foundation foundation.

After the successful installation of the lacing floor as well as the roller benches including roller blocks, five gallery levels were installed on the left and right side of the stage tower. In addition, soundproofed machine rooms were installed behind the galleries. Two winches were installed on both sides, including heavy-load and flywheel sections (Zero fleet winch), which had to be first raised 10 meters. The installation could be completed within two weeks. For acoustic optimization all winches were placed on elastic bearings.


The installation of the under stage machinery started in summer 2015. The size of the pit included an enormous 7,000 m³ (21 x 29 x 11.5 m). In order to meet the originally planned, tight schedule, the design phase decided to assemble as many parts as possible outside the state opera. The heaviest part inserted weighed 8.8 tons. Two cranes were designed and installed by Waagner-Biro for the introduction of these parts.

The main stage consists of a total of eight platforms, four of which are designed as double-deck pods. The total area of the stage is 1,330 m². The control of the entire stage technology - consisting of approx. 280 drive axes - is carried out via the Waagner-Biro CAT control system.

Adaptations also in the underground building

In the underground building (underground transport paths as well as operating rooms), for example, decoration elements in storage carts are transported in a manner independent of the weather and in a time-saving manner. It also serves the internal logistical development of the individual buildings of the State Opera. Therefore, necessary technical facilities were placed in the underground building. All supply lines, such as electrical, heating, refrigeration and fire extinguishing pipes, run through the underground structure, which is why it is of particular importance for the technical supply of the opera house.

This part of the structure has been newly created within the context of the general renovation and serves to improve the organizational processes within the framework of the performances. During the performances, the underground transport route is used to ensure a smooth operation. This connects to the main stage in the Berlin side stage (Left Side Stage) and includes, among other things, a freely movable stage wagon system, consisting of twelve 2x1 m drive units for stage weighers and decorations.

Reheasal center in the same dimension

Also included in the commission was the creation of a rehearsal center for the State ballet, the choir and the orchestra. This comprises the same dimensions as the main stage in the opera house. Thus the ensemble of the Staatsoper has the opportunity to rehearse in the original settings and the same stage size as in the opera house. Here, Waagner-Biro also installed a lifting platform for transport purposes.