The Associated Press quotes Staatsoper general manager Peter Mussbach as saying, "everything must be taken out — this is a gigantic task." The cost will also be gigantic: around €130 million. The German federal and Berlin state governments will contribute €50 million each and the rest will come from an association of friends of the opera.
Officials at the Staatsoper, including music director Daniel Barenboim, have long said that the 18th-century building desperately needs renovation. In 2002, for example, a hydraulic stage lift collapsed during a performance of Don Giovanni.
It was initially reported last March that the Berlin government had agreed to fund the renovation, which was then estimated to cost about €100 million and scheduled to start next year or 2009.
The Staatsoper has had a turbulent history. The original opera house was completed in 1743, though the first performance was held the year before while the building was still under construction. In 1843 the entire structure was destroyed by a fire following a performance of a military ballet. The reconstructed opera building was ready the following year. After the collapse of the German empire in 1918, the house was renamed the Staatsoper unter den Linden. The historic theater was destroyed again toward the end of World War II; the East German authorities reopened it in 1955, and it received its last (partial) renovation in 1986.
According to the AP there are plans to stage operas at an alternative venue during the renovation, but specifics have not yet been revealed.
German reunification left Berlin struggling to maintain funding for the three opera houses the city inherited from its two halves: the Staatsoper and Komische Oper in the east, and the Deutsche Oper in the west.