After a long national debate, the Storting, Norway’s legislature, decided in 1999 to construct a new opera house in the city. A design competition was held and of the 350 entries received, the judges chose that of the Norwegian firm Snøhetta.
Construction started in 2003 and the completed in 2007, ahead of schedule and 300 million NOK (~US$52 million) under its budget of 4.4 billion NOK (~US$760 million). The gala opening on 12 April 2008 was attended by his majesty King Harald, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and President Tarja Halonen of Finland and other leaders. During the first year of operation, 1.3 million people had passed through the building’s doors.
The Opera House won the culture award at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in October 2008 and the 2009 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture (Mies van der Rohe award).