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Back Home About the Opera Royal Swedish Orchestra


Skilled ORCHESTRA with a long history

Musicians who had come to Sweden from Europe laid the foundation for the Royal Swedish Orchestra. Almost 500 years later it is not only one of the world’s oldest orchestras; with 105 members it is also the largest orchestra in Sweden. From having been a royal institution under Gustav Vasa, the orchestra has been at the heart of the Royal Opera since its inception in 1773, bringing together all its disciplines. The orchestra is normally found in the orchestra pit between the main stage and the stalls. But like the Royal Swedish Opera Chorus, members of the orchestra also participate in lunch concerts and at surprise events. The Royal Swedish Opera music director and international conductor Alan Gilbert is head of the Royal Swedish Orchestra since 2021. Below you can hear him speak about his career, the profession of conducting and working with the Royal Swedish Orchestra.

»An opera company that has been active for so many years has a collective experience and knowledge that cannot be copied.« 

Music Director & Royal Court Kapellmeister

»It’s a blessing for me to work in a setting where everyone truly wants to achieve the very best they can do,« says the Royal Swedish Opera Music Director, Alan Gilbert, who in 2023 will be conducting Tosca, Salome, The Queen of Spades and Elektra. »The audience can sense when the musicians are giving their all during a performance. As music director it’s my job to create an atmosphere in which each musician is not only able to give his or her very best, but also passionately wants to do that.« He describes his work with the Royal Swedish Orchestra as a two-way-street: »I get to learn so much from the orchestra and from the Royal Swedish Opera. An opera company that has been around for so many years has an incomparable amount of collective knowledge and experience. You have to live it to understand it. I have worked with many opera productions over the years but being this intimately involved with an opera company allows me to delve deeper into the artform. So I feel extremely fortunate.« Apart from the above-mentioned operas, Alan Gilbert will be conducting the Jubilee Gala and two concerts with the Royal Swedish Orchestra.

Alan Gilbert enjoys a worldwide reputation as one of the most respected and versatile conductors of both opera and symphonic music today. The winner of several International Grammy Awards, he is renowned for his deep musicianship, his ambitious programming and his wide-ranging curiosity beyond the core repertoire. Alan Gilbert is well known to the Swedish audience from his many years as principal conductor of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra of which he is now conductor laureate. Alan is currently both music director of the Royal Swedish Orchestra and chief conductor at Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg. 


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