Dresden State Operetta

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Dresden State Operetta 2016

The Dresden State Operetta is the only independent operetta theater in Germany. Contrary to its historical name, it is owned by the city of Dresden and was founded in 1947 with a first forerunner, the “Apollo Theater” in Dresden- Leuben . The theater has been located on the site of the former Mitte power station in the Wilsdruffer Vorstadt district since December 2016 . In addition to operettas, game operas and musicals are also on the program in the 700-seat auditorium.

History of the house

The Residenztheater 1875


The Dresden State Operetta and its predecessors can look back on 235 years of tradition as a musical folk theater in Dresden. The founder of this tradition was Josef Ferdinand Nesmüller , from around 1895 Heinrich Mau in particular worked as a patron on its further development. Elaborate and representative theater buildings such as the Residenztheater (1872–1935, dates of operetta performances), the Central Theater (1898–1945) and the Albert Theater (1913–1945) established a tradition in Dresden that continues to this day. At times, operettas were played simultaneously in all of these houses and the Semperoper.

On September 1, 1944, as everywhere in Germany, theater life came to a standstill on the orders of Joseph Goebbels , and all theaters were closed. In the air raids on Dresden in February 1945, all the buildings in the city center sank to rubble and ashes.

The house in Leuben (1947-2016)

Leuben inn around 1900
State operetta in Leuben until 2016
Auditorium in Leuben, 2003

Construction and opening (1945–1947)

In the suburbs, small theater groups began to emerge again immediately after the war ended. In May 1945 the theater entrepreneur Fritz Randow decided to lease two inns in order to build up his own operetta ensemble, the “Goldene Krone” in Kleinzschachwitz and the “Feenpalast” in Leuben . The former could be used immediately, the latter was initially in a non-playable condition, as the city of Dresden had housed a police barracks here from 1944. On August 16, 1945, Randow received the building permit for the reconstruction of the Feenpalast according to the design of the architects Bruno Just and Johannes Rascher and began on October 1, 1945 with the work on the auditorium and the stage as well as the installation of an orchestra pit . The stage equipment was Fritz Randow illegally from the wreckage of the Central Theater in Waisenhausstraße get such. In some cases, this was transported from the city center to Leuben by horse-drawn carts, carts and wheelbarrows (so the entire upper machinery came from the ruins of the Central Theater to what is now the "Apollo Theater" and was repaired in-house).

On July 20, 1945, the "Golden Crown" began playing, but was stopped again in October 1945 due to a lack of heating material. Now the small hall of the “Feenpalast” was set up in a hurry, the performance of which began on December 25, 1945 as the “Apollo Artists Festival” and which was used until 1947. Among the appearing there were u. a. Georg Wörtge , Paul Beckers and Maria Paudler on stage. The topping-out ceremony was celebrated on October 30, 1946, but at the same time there were plans to remove Fritz Randow as a private entrepreneur and to nationalize this theater as part of the Deutsche Volksbühne Dresden (DVD), which he succeeded in doing in July 1947.

On August 18, 1947, the opening hour was celebrated in the new "Apollo Theater", the first completed theater renovation in Saxony. The first piece of music played here in the house was the “Festmarsch” by Johann Strauss (son) . The first performance was on August 22, 1947 Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream with music by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy , followed by the first concert on August 24 and the first ballet evening on August 30. On October 2, 1947, Franz Lehár's The Merry Widow was given as the first operetta. This date is considered to be the "hour of birth" of today's Dresden State Operetta.

The provisional 1947 to 1977

In cooperation with the "Constantia", the later Theater Junge Generation in Dresden-Cotta (until 2016), plays and operettas were given on a monthly basis.

With the dissolution of DVB, on January 1, 1950, the stages of the State of Saxony Operetta Apollo-Theater became independent and on January 1, 1951, finally, the Dresden Operetta Theater , after the dissolution of the State of Saxony, finally State Operetta Theater , and occasionally State Operetta Theater Dresden . On November 27, 1951, the first production of a comic opera, Die Schneider von Schönau by Jan Brandts-Buys , was performed.

In the summer of 1958 the theater was incorporated into the Dresden State Theater , from which the artistic director Fritz Steiner succeeded in removing it again in 1967. In the summer of 1963 the theater was named "Dresden State Operetta" and during the festival week 19–26. November 1967 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary an independent theater again.

However, starting in the 1950s, it was refrained from making any investments in the house in Leuben: Any advances were repeatedly refused to the effect that a new building was planned in the city center in the near future, which is also verifiable in various plans, but which repeatedly was moved.

An improved provisional from 1977 to 1990

In the 1960s, the situation had finally become so intolerable that the artistic director Steiner succeeded in making the necessary investments, which began with the planning in the now dilapidated theater from 1966 and finally, from 1970, because they had to carry out the necessary “personal contribution” , should last another seven years (until 1977). However, in this way a new building was now impossible in the long term. The designation initially made as the Dresden East Cultural Center , however, did not prevail.

The time from 1990

Since 1990 - contrary to the now misleading name - the theater has been sponsored by the city of Dresden and not the Free State of Saxony.

The changes made up to 1977 were - as they themselves were more of a provisional character - worn out again in the early 1990s. As one of the measures, the addition of a reception foyer and cash desk was implemented from June 1990. The technology was also successively renewed and the auditorium, including a passage around the orchestra pit, was rebuilt. Behind and above the stage, however, the working conditions for orchestra, ensemble members and stage workers did not change significantly compared to the situation in 1977 and partly in 1947. Also any necessary extensions (side and back stages, stage tower) to create a full-fledged theater , were not taken into account either during the renovation in 1990 or later.

Like many other cultural institutions in Dresden, the State Operetta also increasingly suffered from the city's tight budget. From around 1999, the house was only operated with a special permit from the responsible trade association: They threatened to close if the unacceptable working conditions did not change. However, this was seen by many responsible persons in the city of Dresden, including politicians, as an inexpensive way of achieving a kind of "cold closure" by withdrawing the operating permit.

In 2003 the situation escalated: The flood of the century presented the city of Dresden with previously unknown financial problems in an already tense financial situation: In this situation - especially to gain funds for necessary reconstruction and replacement investments - a public proposal was made to close the house. However, due to the onset of citizen protests, this was rejected by the city council - even by those who had been in favor of the closure up until then.

A possible relocation of the operetta, possibly to a new building on Wiener Platz , was a much discussed local political issue between 2003 (the closure proposed for budgetary reasons and rejected by the city council) and 2012 (final decision to build a new building). The merger with the Staatsschauspiel Dresden in the newly renovated Schauspielhaus Dresden was also seriously discussed and kept various institutions busy for months.

New building plans (from 2004) and new opening (2016)

State operetta in the power plant in mid-2016
The stage area for the State Operetta in the new building

Due to the refused closure, the then Lord Mayor Ingolf Roßberg brought up a new building on Wiener Platz as early as 2004 , as the necessary replacement investments at the Leuben location (around € 10 million were charged for the building itself, the necessary expansions to a further 6 to 10 million €) would have already been able to finance large parts of a new building at a location in the city center. The city council initially did not follow this initiative, but apart from the closure, which was politically and publicly undesirable, there was no serious alternative.

The financial situation of Dresden, which has improved significantly since 2006 through the debt relief of the city, as well as a far-reaching income waiver by the workforce of the State Operetta since 2009, supported by the respective unions, as well as extensive (and also financially significant) civic engagement formed the basis for this complete change in the until 2002 accepted local political orientation of a "discontinued model" for this theater. The far-reaching income waiver had already been largely negotiated by Mayor Roßberg in 2005, but was then postponed for tactical reasons in order to be able to take account of the changed political framework conditions after 2008. For this purpose, the successor of Mayor Roßberg, Helma Orosz , was won over as the “patroness” of the “chair donations” that were now beginning and thus for the new building - although the location question remained open.

In July 2012, after years of debate, it was finally decided to build the new state operetta in the area of ​​the former power station Mitte between Wettiner Platz and Könneritzstrasse , and a few weeks later the corresponding construction contracts. Construction began with the excavation of the excavation pit for this new building with the “groundbreaking ceremony” on April 11, 2014, and the foundation stone was laid on July 8, 2014.

Completion was contractually agreed for December 2016, and this was also adhered to: The opening of the State Operetta took place with a ceremony in front of invited guests on December 16, 2016. The next day the premiere of Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach took place, the second opening premiere was on December 22, 2016 Wonderful Town by Leonard Bernstein .

On October 18, 2017, there was a serious accident when a failed fire protection test resulted in 16,000 liters of water from the deluge system flooding the stage within a few seconds. The damage to the stage technology amounted to more than 3.5 million euros, the game operations had to be stopped (there was a similar accident in 2004 at the venue in Leuben). On February 3, 2018, the game began again with the lighting equipment not yet complete with the premiere of Mrs. Luna by Paul Lincke ; the director described this as a "second opening".

The expenses of the theater are subsidized from general budget funds of the city of Dresden, insofar as they are not generated from entrance fees. In 2018 the city made a grant of 17 million euros, and the state operetta itself raised 2.5 million euros.

Cultural and historical significance

In terms of cultural history, the Dresden State Operetta deals with the responsibility towards a genre that suffered from questionable ideologies in the 20th century, particularly during the Nazi era. This happens in reconstructions such as the instrumentation of Abraham's Victoria and her hussar and re-performance of forgotten or repressed works. A scientific conference Operetta under the swastika also served to reappraise in 2005 .

The work of Johann Strauss receives special attention . In addition to his well-known stage works, the Dresden State Operetta has also performed seldom performed Strauss works since 2004: The Carneval in Rome with over 50 performances, the political satire The Queen's Lace Scarf with almost as many performances, Prince Methuselah, based on Jacques Offenbach , and Cagliostro in 2015 Vienna . From 2011 to 2015 the State Operetta presented the Johann Strauss Festival every year. Casanova will follow in 2020 , a revue reinterpretation of the Cagliostro in Vienna created by Ralph Benatzky .

From the 1960s musicals became part of the regular program, from 1990 the genre was increasingly taken up.

Important productions were or are also:

Before 1990:

After 1990:


  • Directorship
1947–1949 Günther Sauer
1949–1950 Hans Pitra
1950–1954 Otto Bochmann
1954–1958 Peter Bejach
1958–1977 Fritz Steiner
1978–1987 Reinhold Stövesand
1987–1988 Manfred Müller-Kuhl
1988–1990 Jürgen Eggert
1990–1994 Elke Schneider
1994–1995 Jürgen Eggert
1995–2003 Fritz Wendrich
2003–2019 Wolfgang Schaller
2019– Kathrin Kondaurow0000
  • musical direction
1947–1950 Head Musical Director of the Deutsche Volksbühne Wilhelm Licht
1950–1960 music director Joachim Michael Niggl
1960–1966 musical chief Siegfried Franze
1966–1968 Head Music Director Hans-Hendrik Wehding
1976–1988 musical director Manfred Grafe
1988–1990 musical senior director, 1990–1995 chief conductor Volker Münch
1995–2003 chief conductor Volker M. Plangg
2003–2013 chief conductor Ernst Theis
2013–2020 chief conductor Andreas Schüller

Ensemble and spin-offs

From the beginning until the 1970s, one face of the house shaped a whole generation of singer-performers : Georg Wörtge , who, as a kind of "exceptional artist" through his design and appearance, also a historical line from the operetta theaters before 1945 to the state operetta of the 1970s Years embodied.

The vocal quartet The Four Brummers , very popular in the GDR, began its career here . Intendant Otto Bochmann had given the suggestion: Wolfgang Roeder (at the house since 1949, first stage technician, then character comedian), Erich Weber (since 1945 choir singer and soloist), Eberhard Keyn (solo dancer and accordion player) started with the poison syringe , a cabaret-style final season event ) and Johannes Frenzel (also a choir singer) started their own careers. The name and official founding took place at a private event at the turn of the year 1950/51. From 1952 they were regularly on the radio independently, and from May 1953 they could be heard or seen on television. In 1955 the four ensemble members they had been until then finally left the State Operetta Theater of that time and were only on the road as the “Four Brummers” until their dissolution in 1977.


Both Strauss rarities and the German Offenbach versions were recorded on sound carriers and were released by the German classical label CPO. The radio music project has been a result of cooperation with MDR Figaro since 2005 and with Deutschlandradio Kultur since 2008 . In 2017 a live CD was released with the recording of Wonderful Town by Leonard Bernstein , in 2019 with Ein Hauch von Venus ( One Touch of Venus ) by Kurt Weill, also as a live recording, both as the first German-language complete recordings.

Guest performances

The first and only guest performance in GDR times in - then so called - "West Germany" was on October 30, 1955 in the Hamburg Operetta Theater with the operetta Free Wind by Isaak Ossipowitsch Dunajewski .

During the GDR era, there were guest tours mainly in the Czechoslovak Republic , Hungary , Romania and Poland (friendship agreements with the operetta theaters in Bucharest and Prague had existed since 1955), but initially ended with the upheavals of 1989/90. They have been resumed since 1993 and regularly take the ensemble to cities such as Essen , Cologne , Hamburg , Munich , Fürth , Linz and Winterthur .


Friends of the Dresden State Operetta

The "Promotion Forum of the State Operetta Dresden eV" arose from two independent foundings, a "Promotion Association of the State Operetta" founded in Dresden in November 2002 and the "Operettenforum eV", which was created in 1990 and which until the merger was the carrier of the balls of the State Operetta (first ball: 1991 in Hamburg), but in the early 2000s it proved to be no longer viable:

“The purpose of the association is to promote the Dresden State Operetta. In view of the importance of the state capital Dresden as a location for art and culture, the association also pursues the goal of promoting and securing the existing cultural understanding of the Dresden State Operetta in all strata of the population through active participation. "


In 2004, the then Lord Mayor Ingolf Roßberg initiated the establishment of the "Dresdner Operettenhaus eV", which primarily collected donations for technical equipment: On October 16, 2017, the association, which he is Deputy Chairman, handed over technology worth € 400,000 which was manufactured or procured especially for the house in 2017.


  • Peter Gunold (Hrsg.): 50 years of the Dresden State Operetta - 225 years of musical folk theater in Dresden . Läzer, Weimar 1997.
  • Wolfgang Schaller (Ed.): Legends. 60 years of the Dresden State Operetta. The youngest 10 years . Dresden 2007.
  • Wolfgang Schaller (Ed.): Operetta under the swastika. Between acceptable art and “degeneration” . Metropol, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-938690-35-2
  • Andreas Schwarze: Metropolis of pleasure. Musical folk theater in Dresden from 1844 until today. Saxophone, Dresden 2016, ISBN 978-3-943444-59-9

Web links

Commons : Dresden State Operetta  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Compilation of the premieres in Gunold, 50 Jahre ..., p. 237 ff.
  2. Strauss matinee with the great-great-nephew , in Sächsische Zeitung , January 6, 2014, p. 14, accessed on January 6, 2014
  3. A webcam documented the construction progress online every two minutes from 2014 to 2016. A compilation from May 2016 is here ( memento of the original from October 2, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. documented. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.kraftwerk-mitte-dresden.de
  4. Kay Haufe: Schlamperei paralyzes operetta - Even in November it cannot be played . in: Sächsische Zeitung from October 20, 2017, p. 7 ( online from October 19, 2017)
  5. Karin Großmann: Why Kathrin Kondaurow's start is not going to be easy . In: Saxon newspaper . March 7, 2019 ( online [accessed March 9, 2019]).
  6. Andreas Schwarze: Metropolis of Pleasure - Musical Volkstheater in Dresden from 1844 to today Dresden: SAXO'Phon 2016. ISBN 978-3-943444-59-9 . Pp. 76-85.
  7. Peter Gunold (ed.): 50 years of the Dresden State Operetta - 225 years of the musical folk theater in Dresden. Verlag und Galerie Buchkunst Läzer, Weimar, 1997. pp. 105, 106. Without ISBN.
  8. Excerpt from the statutes of the Förderforum der Staatsoperette Dresden e. V .:
  9. Nadja Laßke: Let there be light - 13 years ago ex-Mayor Ingolf Roßberg founded an association to which the operetta owes a lot. In Saxon newspaper of 17 October 2017 S. (14 online available).

Coordinates: 51 ° 3 '9.9 "  N , 13 ° 43' 22.2"  E