German Theater in Berlin
The German Opera in Berlin (Deutsche Oper Berlin) is an opera and ballet theater, the largest of the three existing in the German capital. The German opera is located in the Charlottenburg area.
The theater building was built in 1912 by the architect Heinrich Seelings on the initiative of citizens of the then independent city of Charlottenburg. In contrast to the Berlin Royal Opera, the Charlottenburg Theater, which was called the German Opera House (Deutsche Opernhaus), decided to fundamentally abandon pomp and representation lodges. The majestic classicist building housed 2,300 places.
Due to the similarity of the names, German opera is often confused with the Berlin State Opera (Deutsche Staatsoper), located on Unter den Linden. Moreover, the latter was often renamed – it was called the State Opera Unter den Linden (Die Staatsoper Unter den Linden), the Prussian State Opera (Preußische Staatsoper), and the Royal Court Opera (Königliche Hofoper).
The premiere took place on November 7, 1912 with Ludwig van Beethoven’s opera Fidelio. Despite the high-class conductors and performers, in connection with the outbreak of the First World War and the ensuing crisis, the affairs of the new Opera House did not go well.
In 1925, after the accession of Charlottenburg to Berlin, the cost of the theater was borne by the state, and the theater was accordingly renamed the State Opera (Städtische Oper). Under the artistic direction of student Gustav Mahler, Bruno Walter (Bruno Walter) began a new era in the history of the theater. The productions of Richard Wagner’s opera “The Nuremberg Mastersingers” (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), the opera-puff of Offenbach’s “Bandits” (Die Banditen), the operas of Giuseppe Verdi’s “Un ballo in maschera” were a resounding success and put the new theater on one level with other Berlin opera houses.
After the National Socialists came to power, the head of the theater was forced to emigrate, the repertoire was changed in strict accordance with the instructions of the Reich ministry for propaganda, Goebbels personally made sure that only works by German authors were staged. And the theater itself was again defiantly renamed the German Opera House. The theater building was converted, the Fuhrer bed was built in and the number of seats was reduced to 2098. This theater was a favorite among the National Socialists until in 1943 a bomb fell into the building, destroying the theater completely.
After the end of World War II, the Charlottenburg district ended up in the western part of Berlin, and the German State Opera (the former Royal Court Opera) remained in the Soviet bloc, and performances were already given there. So West Berlin was left without an opera and ballet theater.
The construction of a new building of the German Opera in the western sector at the site of the previous building ended in 1961. This modern glass and concrete building by architect Fritz Bornemann has excellent acoustics. And to this day it is the largest theater building in Berlin, and the second largest in Germany. According to the tradition of the first building, there are no lodges in the large hall of the theater, 2000 visitors can accommodate here, each seat guarantees a good overview of the stage.
Immediately after the opening of the new building of the German Opera, the theater was headed by the famous director Gustav Rudolf Sellner. He invites conductor Lorin Maazel, prominent soloists Evelyn Lear, Gundula Janowitz, José van Dam, Pilar Lorengar, Leonie Rysanek, Leonie Rysanek Silla (Anja Silja), Agnes Baltsa, (Agnes Baltsa), and others. In the next few years, the German Opera of Berlin became the center of the cultural life of the city. World-famous celebrities are actively invited by the theater, and Berlin’s German opera gains worldwide fame.
Today the theater’s repertoire is based on the classical masterpieces of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner, Strauss, Puccini, and also includes modern operas. Under the current musical director of the theater, Donald Runnicles, the orchestra and the choir of the theater have repeatedly received prizes at international competitions.
In 2013, the second stage, the “Joiner” (“Tischlerei”), opened in the premises of the former carpentry workshop at the German Opera House. This is a place for modern experimental works, concerts and events for children and adolescents, as well as jazz and lyric evenings.
After repair work by the stage mechanics, the theater reopened in 2015 with the premiere of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet.