State Opera Unter den Linden

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The State Opera on Unter den Linden boulevard after the renovation, 2018

The State Opera Unter den Linden (from 1743: Royal Opera , from 1919: Prussian State Opera , from 1955: German State Opera , colloquially: Lindenoper ) is an opera house on the boulevard Unter den Linden 7 in the Berlin district of Mitte . Erected by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff in the Palladian style on behalf of Frederick II in the years 1741–1743 , it was rebuilt by Richard Paulick as part of the Forum Fridericianum from 1951–1955 after its destruction in the Second World War . It is the "first major theater ever built as a monumental, free-standing structure in a city".


18th century

Opera house in its original form, around 1745

Right at the beginning of Frederick II's reign in May 1740, Knobelsdorff was commissioned to plan the Royal Court Opera, the cornerstone of which was laid in September 1741. The king chose a fortress site near the Kronprinzenpalais in which he lived . Due to the placement on the main axis of the city - Unter den Linden - and not as usual within the palace complex , the first independent and at that time largest theater building in Europe was created as a cultural expression of the ideas of the Enlightenment . Architectural model was u. a. Andrea Palladio's Villa La Rotonda near Vicenza , easy to read on the front . The building, designed as a nave, has the Apollo Hall (banquet hall, foyer), the theater hall (auditorium, ballroom) and the Corinthian Hall (stage and concert hall). After the Kronprinzenpalais, the Prinzessinnenpalais and the armory , the Royal Court Opera was the fourth magnificent building on Unter den Linden; it is one of the main works of the Frederician Rococo .

The Royal Opera was opened on December 7th, 1742, before it was finally completed. From 1755 the concert activities of the court orchestra in the city became increasingly important. In 1786, Friedrich Wilhelm II commissioned the later architect of the Brandenburg Gate , Carl Gotthard Langhans , to convert the stage area and the side stage to create more space behind the stage. In addition, the visibility of all seats has been improved by realigning the side boxes and widening the stage opening. In addition, the outdated concept of successive halls was replaced by the opposite of the auditorium and the stage. On the occasion of a benefit concert in favor of the widow of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , excerpts of his operas were heard for the first time in German, which the bourgeoisie could understand.

19th century

Opera house (right) on the painting Unter den Linden by Eduard Gaertner , 1852

In 1811, under the direction of General Director August Wilhelm Iffland , the Court Opera and the National Theater united to form the Royal Drama. A little later, under the first Prussian general music director Gaspare Spontini, the Prussian court orchestra had 94 musicians under contract. Spontini ensured a significant improvement in the quality of the orchestra and also set up a fund for members of the band in need.

On June 18, 1821, Carl Maria von Weber's Freischütz was premiered in the newly built Schinkelschen Schauspielhaus on Gendarmenmarkt . Because of the increasing size of choirs in opera compositions, the first choir singers were permanently engaged in the same year. In 1842 Gottfried Wilhelm Taubert founded the series of symphony concerts , which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy took over in the first year . In the same year Giacomo Meyerbeer succeeded Gaspare Spontini as general music director.

On the night of August 18-19, 1843, the opera house burned to the ground. King Friedrich Wilhelm IV decided to rebuild it immediately. According to plans by the architect Carl Ferdinand Langhans , the opera house was reopened after just over a year with Giacomo Meyerbeer's Ein Feldlager in Schlesien . The most significant innovation was the spacious auditorium with four tiers and almost 1,800 seats. Further improvements were the widening of the stage, a new gable relief and technical renovations. In 1847 Otto Nicolai became the cathedral and court opera conductor. Two years later he conducted his world premiere of the opera The Funny Wives of Windsor .

At the end of the century, both the opera house and the court orchestra became increasingly interesting for important artists. The orchestra gained international renown through the engagement of Richard Strauss as court conductor and conductors such as Joseph Sucher , Karl Muck and Felix von Weingartner .

20th century

View from the university to the State Opera, on the right the Hedwig Cathedral , 1936
Fire at the State Opera after the air raid on April 10, 1941
Richard Paulick and Wilhelm Pieck with a model of the State Opera, 1955
Bebelplatz with the State Opera, behind it the Hedwig Cathedral, 1979

In October 1919 it was renamed the Prussian State Opera and State Orchestra , from 1919 to 1939 the place of work for the set designer Panos Aravantinos . In 1925 Alban Berg's Wozzeck was premiered under Erich Kleiber in the presence of the composer. The composer Dimitri Mitropoulos acted as Kleiber's assistant from 1921 to 1925 .

In 1926 and 1927, the building was rebuilt by the architect Otto Hodler , among other things because it was to receive new side stages. For this purpose, the stage tower was underpinned, which enables a faster change of scenery according to modern stage requirements. The main stage has been technically restructured, including the installation of double-decker platforms , hydraulic overhead machinery and mobile side-stage cars . At the same time, the Kroll Opera was played and used as an alternative venue at times. The reopening of the converted opera house took place in 1928 with a new production of The Magic Flute . Along with the renovation, Kaiser-Franz-Joseph-Platz was redesigned , with the west ramp of the Linden Tunnel, which opened in 1916, being filled.

During the time of National Socialism the house was subordinate to the Prime Minister Hermann Göring as the Prussian State Theater . Jewish singers, musicians, conductors and other employees were pushed out of the house. The conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was demonstrably committed to Jewish musicians, hiding some of them in his apartment at high personal risk. During the Second World War , the building suffered severe damage on April 10, 1941 as a result of an Allied air raid . On the orders of Adolf Hitler , the reconstruction began immediately in order to demonstrate the unbroken morale. On December 12, 1942, the house celebrated its 200th anniversary with the performance of Richard Wagner's Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Wilhelm Furtwängler.

The second air raid on February 3, 1945 destroyed the stage and parts of the auditorium. The portico and the Apollo hall were largely spared.

After the Second World War, the magistrate discussed both the conversion of the opera house into a music college and its demolition. In 1951 it was decided to rebuild it. During the reconstruction and new construction , the Admiralspalast largely served as an alternative venue. Since the intendancy building was to be enlarged in the course of the renovation work and thus protruded into the building line of the east branch of the linden tunnel, it was shut down in 1951. On April 11, 1953, the topping-out ceremony was celebrated on Unter den Linden . The venue was named Deutsche Staatsoper at the suggestion of Erich Kleiber and was reopened on September 4, 1955 with a festive performance of the Meistersinger von Nürnberg under the direction of Franz Konwitschny .

The architect Richard Paulick was significantly involved in the execution. For example, the ornamentation of the Apollo Hall is based on Knobelsdorff's Parolesaal in Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam . The auditorium, which is unusually magnificent by socialist standards, with its now only three tiers, is also a testament to the cultural self-image of the early 1950s.

When the Wall was built in 1961, artists from the western part of the city could no longer participate in the State Opera. In order to save the ensemble's tradition, colleagues from other orchestras and graduates from all four GDR music colleges were summoned to Berlin, the choir of a GDR folklore ensemble as well as graduates from the GDR ballet schools and soloists from the Eastern European People's Republics were accepted into the State Opera ensemble . Under the direction of Otmar Suitner from 1964 to 1990 and Heinz Fricke (General Music Director 1961–1992) the opera house developed into a well-known ensemble in Europe. Continuous record productions and guest performances in Eastern and Western European countries as well as on other continents are evidence of this.

During a renovation in the mid-1980s, the writing “Deutsche Staatsoper” on the portico was replaced by the Latin “FRIDERICUS REX APOLLINI ET MUSIS” (“King Friedrich [dedicates this building] to Apollo and the Muses”).

After the fall of the wall , new perspectives emerged. The musician Daniel Barenboim was interested in the State Opera Unter den Linden. During a guest performance by the ensemble in Japan in 1990, they met for the first time and then signed a contract with him. He has been the artistic director of the house since 1992; since 2000, elected general music director for life, also the Staatskapelle Berlin.

The Association of Friends and Patrons of the State Opera Unter den Linden e. V. supports the work of the State Opera financially and ideally. Its founding members include Hans-Dietrich Genscher , Friede Springer , Teddy Kollek and Henry Kissinger . Anna Schwanhäußer has been the managing director since 2013, the chairman of the association is the manager Ulrich Maas.

21st century

Since 2004 the Staatsoper Unter den Linden has formed the Opera Foundation in Berlin with the Deutsche Oper Berlin , the Komische Oper , the Staatsballett Berlin and the Bühnenservice Berlin .

Remedial measures

Auditorium ceiling, 2007
Detail of the auditorium, 2007
Auditorium (approx. 1300 seats) when it reopened on October 3, 2017 after seven years of renovation

The structural renovation of the Linden Opera, which was planned after the turn of the millennium, initially led to fierce controversy . The design by the architect Klaus Roth, which was awarded a prize by a jury, provided for the demolition of the Paulick Hall and a redesign of the auditorium. Protests by German and international artists forced the intervention of Klaus Wowereit , the then Governing Mayor and Senator for Culture in personal union. The renovation was then put out to tender in mid-2008; In the new editions, greater consideration was given to the protection of historical monuments , the design of the interior must be based on the model of the architect Richard Paulick . At the beginning of 2009, the Stuttgart architecture firm HG Merz was awarded the contract for the planning of the property with the condition that the Paulicksaal be retained.

As part of the construction work, improvements in acoustics and visibility in the auditorium should also be achieved. The previously structurally given sound image of the auditorium was determined by very little room resonance ; an electronic reverberation extension system had to be used since the 1990s .

With the aim of extending the reverberation time without technical support - a request from General Music Director Daniel Barenboim - the ceiling of the interior was raised by four meters, the room volume increased from 6500 to 9500 m³, which cannot be seen from the outside because the cubature the listed building was in accordance with the historic preservation obtain specifications. The transition between the tier zone and the ceiling was made optically by an abstract trellis , which was inspired by the treble-layer decors of the Frederician Rococo. The structural changes increased the reverberation time from around 1.1 to 1.6 seconds.

The ensemble moved to the Schillertheater on Bismarckstrasse in Charlottenburg while the renovation work was being carried out; the new venue was opened on October 3, 2010 with the world premiere of Jens Joneleit's opera Metanoia , which was originally to be directed by Christoph Schlingensief . The Schillertheater - actually a stage for spoken theater - had been renovated since January 2009 and prepared for the needs of the opera. Events that had previously been held in the Apollo Hall of the State Opera Unter den Linden took place during the renovation either in the foyer of the Schiller Theater, in the workshop of the house, in the Bode Museum or in the Rotes Rathaus in Berlin-Mitte .

The move back into the State Opera building was planned for the beginning of the season in autumn 2013. A surprisingly hard winter 2010/2011 was given, among others, by the Senate Building Director Regula Lüscher as the reason for the first delay of one and a half years. After that, official announcements vaguely spoke of October 2015, but left considerable scope for further delays. The responsible building authority could not guarantee any of the plans it had drawn up itself at any time. After the reconstruction was completed, the ensemble moved back into the Unter den Linden building after seven years.

Regardless of all the difficulties in the completion, the State Opera Unter den Linden reopened on October 3, 2017 with a production of Robert Schumann's Scenes from Goethe's Faust . Artistic director Jürgen Flimm and Daniel Barenboim were responsible for the production . Official gaming operations resumed on December 7, 2017.

Cost development

In September 2010, the construction costs were estimated at 239 million euros, of which the federal government should take over 200 million euros and the state of Berlin 39 million euros. 126 million euros were budgeted for the opera building and 90 million euros for the directorship building, rehearsal center and connecting tunnel between the rehearsal center and opera building. In February 2018, the construction costs were put at 440 million euros.

Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry

On March 26, 2015, the Berlin House of Representatives, chaired by the Left MP Wolfgang Brauer, decided to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry to clarify the "causes, consequences and responsibility for the cost and deadline overruns in the renovation" of the State Opera Unter den Linden. The committee of inquiry was constituted on May 8, 2015. The committee concluded its taking of evidence on May 13, 2016; on May 27, 2016, the committee finally discussed the final report (printed matter 17/2999). The committee presented its final report on June 9, 2016 ; which was discussed in the plenary session of the House of Representatives on June 23, 2016.

Important world premieres at the State Opera

Artistic and musical directors, general music directors

General music directors until 1918

Musical director from 1918

From 1936, under the artistic director Heinz Tietjen, there were several permanent conductors with varying degrees of influence:

After the Second World War there were various chief conductors:

Directors and conductors

Intendants and conductors until 1918

Directors from 1918

Artistic profile

  • The own ballet company was merged with the ballet of the Deutsche Oper in the course of the foundation's establishment. The Staatsballett Berlin has been performing at all Berlin opera houses since 2004 .
  • Notable productions include a cycle with all of Beethoven's symphonies and piano concertos with Daniel Barenboim as soloist / conductor; a ten-part Wagner cycle for the 2002 festivities (the world's first performance of Wagner's ten main works under the same musical direction, directed by Harry Kupfer and set design by Hans Schavernoch) within two weeks, cyclical performances of the nine Mahler symphonies in Berlin, Vienna and New York , cyclical Performances of all Bruckner symphonies in Berlin, Vienna and Tokyo as well as the complete recording of the same; everything under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. The program of the house is supplemented by performances of baroque operas such as Cleopatra e Cesare , Croesus , L'opera seria and Griselda under the direction of the baroque specialist René Jacobs with various guest orchestral ensembles on historical instruments.

Guest performances

Selection of guest performances by the State Opera:

  • 1954: Paris
  • 1958: Ballet in Turin, Bologna, Naples, Venice, orchestras in Moscow and Leningrad
  • 1959: Prague (during the Prague Spring)
  • 1960: Orchestra in Copenhagen
  • 1964: Helsinki
  • 1965: Orchestra and ballet in Warsaw, Zagreb
  • 1966: Festival de Lausanne, orchestras in Innsbruck and Vienna
  • 1967: Copenhagen, Prague Spring Orchestra , Drottningholm (Sweden), XI. Warsaw Autumn, Nottingham Orchestra, Leeds, Sunderland, Newcastle, Huddersfield, Bristol, London, Hastings
  • 1968: XXIII. Festival International de Lausanne, Wiener Festwochen, XXXI. Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Florence, Budapest
  • 1969: Cairo (millennium), Helsinki, Moscow
  • 1970: Versailles, Sofia, Ljubljana
  • 1971: Milan
  • 1972: XXVII. Festival de Lausanne, Prague Spring
  • 1973: Paris, Vienna, orchestra for the XXI. Festival di Ravello, Warsaw
  • 1974: Madrid for the XI. Festival de la Opera, XXVIII. Festival International de Lausanne, orchestra for the Sofia Music Weeks, Bucharest, ballet in Krusevo and Belgrade
  • 1975: Bratislava
  • 1976: Florence, orchestra in Ravello
  • 1977: Tokyo, Yokohama, Sapporo, Niigata, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuyama, orchestras for the International Bruckner Festival in Linz, Stockholm
  • 1978: Orchestra for XXXIII. Festival de Lyon, orchestras in Lausanne and Basel, orchestras in Tokyo, Maebashi, Takeo, Oita, Kajoshima, Nagoya, Otsu, Kochi, Osaka, Sendai, Koriyama, Akita
  • 1979: Culture Days of the GDR in Moscow, Bucharest, Brasov
  • 1980: Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Nagoya, Madrid, Warsaw, Lodz
  • 1981: Bologna, orchestras in Matsudo, Tokyo, Nagoya, Kumamoto, Shimonoseki, Oita, Toyoma, Hamamatsu, Yokohama, ballet in Madrid and Granada, Graz
  • 1982: Ravello and Macerata, Bratislava, orchestras in Parma, Reggio Emilia, Ravenna, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Carpi, Perugia, Bobigny (France)
  • 1983: Paris, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Omi-Hachiman, Osaka, Fukuoka, Athens, orchestras in Bratislava
  • 1984: Orchestra in Yokohama, Tokyo, Osaka, Kagoshima, Kitakyushu, Matshyama, Takayama, Kanazawa, Urawa, Shizuoka, Wakayama, Tendo, Akito, Sapporo, Matsudo, Nagoya, Maebashi
  • 1985: Orchestra in Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Northampton, Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds, Warwick, Leicester, London, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Halifax, Naples
  • 1986: Alma Ata, Budapest, Gran Canaria and Tenerife, orchestras in Australia and New Zealand: Perth, Margaret River, Melbourne, Sidney, Penrith, Brisbane, Wellington, Zurich, ballet in Breslau, ballet in Limasoll (Cyprus) and Athens and Larisa (Greece)
  • 1987: Orchestra in Sofia, Burgas and Varna
  • 1988: Ballet in Moscow, Prague and Bratislava
  • 1989: Orchestra in Paris
  • 1988: Japan
  • 1990: Spain, Japan
  • 1993: Orchestra in Linz
  • 1994: Wiener Festwochen, orchestra for the Lucerne Festival
  • 1995: Jerusalem, Argentina, Brazil, Salzburg Festival
  • 1996/1997: Paris
  • 1997: Japan
  • 2000: USA, Spain
  • 2001: Spain
  • 2002: Spain, Japan
  • 2003: Spain
  • 2007: Japan
  • 2011: Abu Dhabi
  • 2013: Romania, Russia
  • 2014: Vienna
  • 2015: London, Paris, Basel, Munich, Spain
  • 2016: Shanghai, Japan (Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Kanazawa), Prague, Paris, London, Lucerne
  • 2017: Dresden, Paris, New York, Vienna
  • 2018: Vienna, Salzburg, Paris, Buenos Aires



  • Louis Schneider: History of the opera and the royal opera house in Berlin . Duncker and Humblot, Berlin 1852.
  • Julius Kapp (Ed.): 185 years of the State Opera. Festschrift for the reopening of the Unter den Linden opera house on April 28, 1928. Berlin 1928.
  • Hugo Fetting: The German State Opera. Berlin 1937, 1955, 1960.
  • Erich Meffert: The State Opera House and its new design, presented by the General Director of the Prussian State Theater. M. Beck, Leipzig 1944.
  • Georg Quander (Ed.): 250 Years of the Unter den Linden Opera House. Apollini et musis. Propylaea, Frankfurt am Main / Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-549-05209-X .
  • Walter Rösler, Manfred Haedler, Micaela von Marcard: The “magic castle” Unter den Linden. The Berlin State Opera. History and stories from the beginning until today . Edition q, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-86124-334-2 .
  • Sabine Vogt-Schneider: “State Opera Unter den Linden” or “German State Opera”? Disputes about cultural policy and gaming in the years between 1945 and 1955. Kuhn, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-928864-57-2 .
  • Rold Hosfeld, Boris Kehrmann, Rainer Wörtmann: Friedrich's dream. The Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden. Metz, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 3-9805563-6-0 .
  • Helmut KH Strauss: The reopening of the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden in 1955 . Dedicated to the Staatskapellmeister a. D. Heinrich Bender , in: The Bear of Berlin. Yearbook of the Association for the History of the City of Berlin 60 (2011), pp. 105–124.
  • Misha Aster : State Opera. The eventful history of the Berlin Linden Opera in the 20th century . Translated from the English by Martin Richter. Siedler, Munich 2017, ISBN 978-3-8275-0102-8 .
  • Alexander Schippel : State Opera Unter den Linden - The redevelopment Hatje & Cantz, Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-7757-4406-5 .

Magazine articles

Web links

Commons : Staatsoper Unter den Linden  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Michael Forsyth: Buildings for Music: Concert Halls and Opera Houses, Music and Listeners from the 17th Century to the Present . De Gruyter Saur Verlag, Munich 1992, ISBN 978-3-598-11029-0 , p. 101 .
  2. ^ Friedrich Lindau : Hanover. Reconstruction and destruction. The city in dealing with its architectural-historical identity , 2nd, revised edition, Hanover: Schlütersche Verlagsgesellschaft, 2001, ISBN 3-87706-607-0 , passim ; Preview over google books .
  3. Max Osborn : What will happen to the Berlin Opera House? Involving remodeling plans. In: Vossische Zeitung , July 5, 1925, p. 5.
  4. ^ A b Hans-Joachim Pohl: The linden tunnel . In: Verkehrsgeschichtliche Blätter . Issue 7, 1980, pp. 134-136 .
  5. ^ Frank Schmitz : Brief building history of the State Opera under the Linden trees . (PDF) Information from the State Opera.
  6. ^ Hugo Fetting: The history of the German State Opera . Henschel, Berlin 1955, p. 236 .
  7. Ulrich Maas is the new chairman of the State Opera's Friends' Association . In: Märkische Oderzeitung , May 31, 2012, accessed on March 25, 2013.
  8. ^ Opera in Berlin
  9. Renovation will be put out to tender . In: Focus , July 15, 2008, accessed November 10, 2010.
  10. Stuttgart architects are renovating the Unter den Linden State Opera . In: Neue Musikzeitung. (NMZ), March 7, 2009, accessed November 10, 2010.
  11. a b Stefan Kirschner: This is how the linden opera is made to sound . In: , August 18, 2010, accessed on September 28, 2010.
  12. State Opera Unter den Linden. The acoustics in the opera hall . (PDF) information brochure from the responsible company Preutz Consult GmbH; ed. on behalf of the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing .
  13. Berlin State Opera opens on October 3, 2017.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archives ) In: RBB-Online , June 22, 2017, accessed on September 11, 2017.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /
  14. The construction work for the renovation of the State Opera Unter den Linden began in September 2010 ( Memento from May 24, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  15. ^ Andreas Wassermann: Berlin State Opera: BER of culture . In: Spiegel Online . February 28, 2018 ( [accessed March 6, 2018]).
  16. ^ "State Opera" investigative committee. Berlin House of Representatives, accessed on January 3, 2018 .
  17. ^ Final report of the "State Opera" investigative committee. (PDF, 642 pp., 4.4 MB) Berlin House of Representatives, June 9, 2016, accessed on January 3, 2018 .
  18. Kerstin Decker: Conductor Otmar Suitner - Only the music was classic . In: , May 15, 2009, accessed on October 14, 2010.
  19. Amsterdam: avec privilege de nos seigneurs, les états de Hollande et de West Frize, September 3, 1743 ( French )

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 ′ 0 ″  N , 13 ° 23 ′ 42 ″  E