Dalhalla is an open-air concert and opera arena, built in 1995 in a huge, almost perfectly amphitheater-shaped deep limestone quarry in the Dalarna region of central Sweden. It's acoustics is unique - in spite of the enormous size of the site (400 x 150 x 60 m, seating more than 4000 spectators), operas are performed without any need for electronic sound amplification. The name "Dalhalla" is a conscious play on the mythological word Valhalla, the Nordic Heaven of Heroes. The Dalhalla founders saw the arena as the perfect site for performing the mythology-laden operas of Richard Wagner.
Birth by cosmic cataclysm
The ultimate origins of the Dalhalla opera arena can be found in a cataclysmic event in the geological history of the Earth. 360 million years ago a huge meteorite struck the Dalarna region. The impact crater was enormous - the circular chain of hills around Lake Siljan, which still reminds us of the event, is more than 100 km across. The sedimentary limestone formations on the surface were shattered. The underlying bedrock was pushed deep down into the crust of the earth.
When the bedrock slowly rebounded, forming a granite dome, some of the limestone was buried around the rim of the dome. While almost all of the meteorite-shattered limestone eroded away during the following millions of years, the limestone along this rim was better protected against erosion. It made perfect sites for limestone quarrying. One of these sites, the present Dalhalla arena, was quarried in such a way as to leave an almost perfect amphitheater-shaped 60 m deep pit, when quarrying was finally stopped in 1991.
An opera singer, Margareta Dellefors, came to the site by chance in the early 90's. She immediately recognized its potentialities as a concert arena with fabulous acoustics in a romantic setting. Thanks to her considerable lobbying, various state and private organizations decided to convert the abandoned limestone quarry into the unique Dalhalla concert arena that it is today.
Dalhalla has become a most successful musical enterprise. It is not too far away from Stockholm (about 280 km) to attract music lovers from the Swedish capital -- a third of the spectators come from the Stockholm area. Yearly ticket sales are around 100 000. Dalhalla is 95 % financed by ticket sales -- an unusual feat for an operatic scene. In addition to opera and classical music (with Swedish as well as international performers), Dalhalla also gives jazz, rock and pop concerts during its season from the end of May to the beginning of September.
On-site inspection by noder
Dalhalla website: www.dalhalla.se