Foundation Future Opernhaus Zürich

The «Stiftung Zukunft Opernhaus Zürich» foundation is a non-profit, tax-exempt foundation under Swiss law. It sits under the supervision of the BVG and Foundation Supervisory Authority of the Canton of Zurich (BVS). The foundation was established on 22 December 2023 to support the upcoming renovation and structural development of the opera house called «Future Oper».

The «Future Opera» project aims to secure the Opernhaus Zürich’s viability into the future, and also offer added value to civic society, urban development, tourism, and Zurich as a business location. In the first half of the 2030s, a new building will be constructed directly adjacent to the existing opera house, in order to remedy the serious lack of space for opera operations. The building will feature impressive architectural appeal both on the lakefront and facing the Sechseläutenplatz, will have publicly accessible areas, and it is sure to become another Zurich landmark. An international architectural competition will select the most convincing design in 2025.

Objective «Future Opera»

The new extension building will be transformed into a «cultural building» with a new laboratory stage for contemporary music and dance theater, the Bernhard Theater, as well as more space for education and participation. Publicly accessible spaces and the extension’s rooftop terrace will also serve as accessible meeting points for groups of all age and social classes, even beyond performance visits. It will provide a physical location that allows space for insights into the Opernhaus’ work and enable audiences to meet artists. A new catering vendor will further support the building’s open atmosphere. With its visionary architecture, the building will enhance both the lakefront and Sechseläutenplatz, and change the cityscape. The new cultural building will form a symbiosis with the historic opera house, which will likewise undergo a complete renovation. The «Future Opera» development project attaches great importance to sustainable and resource-saving construction methods.

Goals of the foundation

Opernhaus Zürich AG and the Canton of Zurich are planning the development project as a public-private partnership, a cooperation between the public sector, sponsors, and private donors. The «Zukunft Opernhaus Zürich» Foundation, established specifically for this purpose, aims to make a significant financial contribution to help realize the project. The foundation will bring together individuals who see the upcoming project as an opportunity for the greater Zurich area, and who are committed to ensuring that Zurich continues to stand for innovative music theater at the highest international level.

Should donors have the explicit wish, their contributions to the Foundation can also be dedicated to other forward-looking projects of the Opernhaus Zürich.

How we work

We ensure that funds entrusted to us are used in a targeted and efficient manner, so they may have a maximum impact when it comes to meeting the Foundation’s goals. We will communicate transparently with the public about our activities. The Foundation’s operational undertakings align with the principles of the Swiss Foundation Code. We will cooperate with associations and cultivate institutions as we work to achieve our goals.

The Board of Trustees and management work closely with the Board of Directors of the Opernhaus Zürich AG, representatives from the Opernhaus, representatives from the Directorate of Justice and Home Affairs, as well as specialists from the Canton of Zurich’s Building Department. Donors will be regularly informed about the project’s status.

We will approach private and institutional donors with targeted fundraising activities. Thanks to their generous support, we can make an important contribution to the future viability of the Opernhaus and Zurich’s appeal.

About us

The Board of Trustees
The honorary Board of Trustees is responsible for the strategic direction of the foundation and oversees its activities. The Chairman of the Board of Trustees is Peter Wuffli, a member of the Board of Directors of the Opernhaus Zürich AG. The other members of the Foundation Board are the designated Artistic Director of the Opernhaus Matthias Schulz, the General Manager Marc Meyer, and Christian Berner, Delegate of the Board of Directors and Co-Head of «Future Opera». In the coming years, the Board of Trustees will be expanded to include individuals from outside the Opernhaus.

Sabine Turner, Director of Marketing & Communication and Co-Head of «Future Opera», will be responsible for managing the foundation.

The founders
Christian Berner
Marc Meyer
Matthias Schulz
Sabine Turner
Peter Wuffli

(as of 1.2.2024)

Information on the «Future Opera» project

«Future Opera» is a construction project that ensures the Opernhaus’ future viability and creates added value for civic society, urban development, and tourism.

The Opernhaus Zürich is Switzerland’s largest cultural institution. Some 800 employees from 38 countries work here in 146 professions. With an average of 12 new productions, 20 revivals and 250 performances on the main stage each year, it is one of the most productive opera houses in the world. This requires infrastructure. In addition to the historic Opernhaus on Sechseläutenplatz, the adjoining extension houses dressing rooms, the chorus hall, rehearsal stages and music rooms, workshops, storage areas, offices, the ticket office, catering, and the Bernhard Theater. The stage sets are also delivered via this building. The 1984 extension, affectionately known as the «meatloaf» due to its color, is the gearbox without which the stage in the older Opernhaus building cannot function.

Both the older building and the extension building will have to be renovated in the 2030s. While the listed areas in the historic Opernhaus can be upgraded with a basic renovation, the extension building has serious functional deficiencies and is literally bursting at the seams. Numerous workstations do not comply with current legal requirements and there is no accessibility for staff. The ballet halls are located on the third basement floor without daylight and are extremely cramped. Instead of a necessary eight to ten stage sets, the Opernhaus can only store sets for one or two productions, requiring sets to be transported back and forth between the opera house and the external warehouse in Oerlikon, averaging some 120 trips per week. Deliveries are made via the Falkenstrasse. Without the necessary maneuvering space, the trucks block the sidewalk and the roadway, creating dangerous situations. These and other problems can only be remedied through extensive structural development, which includes making major interventions in the existing extension building’s structure. This is the only way we can continue to present a varied program at an international level in the future.

Broad-based dialogue

Planning the future of the Opernhaus means more than just thinking about the building and operations. «Future Opera» should provide added value for residents, in the tourism sector, and with an eye to urban development. To this end, we launched a dialogue process in summer 2023 with numerous workshops, expert discussions, and an online survey. A total of 780 people participated, and enthusiastically and actively contributed to a shared vision for the future: employees, regular audience members, friends, shareholders, individuals the neighborhood, experts from the cantonal and municipal administration, persons from Zurich’s cultural institutions, members from our Club Jung, alongside representatives from city and cantonal politics, as well as residents and guests who gathered on Sechseläutenplatz on the occasion of «oper für alle».

  • Documentation for «Dialogue Future Opera» can be viewed here.
  • The presentation of the results in video format is linked here (only available in German).

Approved project objectives

During the dialogue, the project’s vision was discussed, expanded, and approved. The following objectives were set out in a revised vision: The new extension will be developed into a «cultural building» with a new laboratory stage for contemporary music and dance theater, with the Bernhard Theater, as well as more space for education and participation. The new building’s publicly accessible rooms and rooftop terrace will also become accessible meeting places for groups of all ages and social classes, even beyond performance visits. It will provide a physical location that allows space for insights into the Opernhaus’ work and enable audiences to meet artists. A new catering vendor will further support the house’s open atmosphere. With visionary architecture and resource-conserving construction methods, the building will further enhance the lakefront and the Sechseläutenplatz and attract attention.

Study «Developing existing structures»

In the «Developing existing structures» study, experts examined the extent to which the existing structure can be incorporated into the development project. As a result, a total demolition was ruled out, in order to prevent ecological and economic disadvantages, and to avoid a longer construction period. A complete demolition could also cause considerable damage to the adjacent older building. The study found that 63% of the greenhouse gas emissions generated during construction would be attributable to the massive underground concrete basin in which the current building and its three lowest levels stand. The preservation of this shell structure, as is now stipulated in the competition program, significantly improves the project’s ecological impact. In addition, other parts of the underground shell structure can be retained while a new building is constructed above ground, changing the urban landscape on Lake Zurich.

The complete «Developing existing structures» study can be viewed here(only available in German).

Bridging building 2024

In a study, theater planners have shown that the Opernhaus needs 60% more space to operate in line with current standards. More than 100 rooms have partially or grossly unacceptable working conditions. In order to promptly remedy acute occupational safety violations and workplace design requirements, and provide initial relief for employees, a temporary bridging structure will be built on the roof of the extension building in summer 2024. Planning permission for this was granted in December 2023. The design, by architectural firm EM2N, envisages a temporary single-story, pavilion-like wooden structure with 330 square meters of usable space. The emphasis is on flexibility, functionality, and reusability elsewhere. The roof structure blends in well with the overall look of the corner of Utoquai and Falkenstrasse. The total costs are expected to be CHF 4.57 million, of which the canton will cover a maximum of CHF 3.7 million.

What happens next?

You can find up-to-date and detailed information on the website

Stiftung Zukunft Opernhaus Zürich
Future Opernhaus Zürich Foundation
Falkenstrasse 1
8008 Zurich

+41 44 268 64 00