The Deutsche Oper Berlin is the largest of the three opera houses in Berlin. The building Bismarckstraße 34-37 in Charlottenburg was opened in 1961 and was a replacement for the at the same place in World War II in 1943 destroyed German Opera. The Charlottenburger Haus is one of the largest theaters in Germany with 1859 seats.
Deutsche Oper Berlin embodied the ideal of a “democratic” opera house, in which every seat offered a full view of the stage. Fritz Bornemann’s reconstruction of the building, opened in 1961, also remained true to the tradition of an opera for the people, without pomp and circumstance. Even today, its excellent sightlines and acoustics set the stage for exceptional musical theater, with room for almost 2,000 audience members each night. The generous foyers, whose architectural elegance is being re-evaluated in the present day, remain a central cultural gathering ground for the capital.
Excellent acoustics and lines of sight provide the setting for exceptional musical theatre; the opera’s spacious foyers are gathering places for the capital’s lovers of high culture. International stars, a first class ensemble and directors of distinction present a repertoire ranging from Mozart to modern-day opera and encompassing Verdi, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss, Meyerbeer, Berlioz and Britten. The orchestra headed by Donald Runnicles is world famous and a regular guest at the Musikfest Berlin and the BBC Proms.
The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country’s second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.
The initiative for the foundation went back to bourgeois circles in the then independent Charlottenburg. As the economic pillar of the state and intellectual pioneer, the inhabitants of the richest city in Prussia wanted an opera house “for themselves” as an alternative to the “frozen” stage of the Hofoper Unter den Linden.
From 1911 to 1912 the German Opera House was built by the city of Charlottenburg to plans by Heinrich Seeling and opened under the direction of Ignatz Waghalter on November 7, 1912 with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Fidelio. With the law on the formation of a new borough Berlin (large Berlin law) Charlottenburg 1920 part of the realm capital and the house over 2300 seats renamed house in municipal opera.
During the period of National Socialism, the Charlottenburg House, which was renamed the Deutsches Opernhaus, became the property of the Reich in 1934 and was under the jurisdiction of the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda by Joseph Goebbels. As Prime Minister of the Free State of Prussia, however, Hermann Göring directed the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, with the houses sometimes rivaling their deputies. Under the direction of Paul Baumgarten, a conversion to 2,098 seats was carried out in 1935 and, contrary to the original design, a “guide box” was created with a stand-independent auditorium. After the destruction of the house on November 23, 1943, the performances took place until the autumn of 1944 in the Admiral’s Palace in Berlin-Mitte.
During the period of National Socialism, the Deutsche Operhaus was considered, in addition to the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, as the stage of representation of the Nazi regime par excellence. Already in the spring of 1933, for the birthday of Intendant Max von Schilling, it was said in the opera pamphlets: “We could wrap up, if it were not possible, in a place where it was possible to make products of the most alien art bolshevism palatable to a bourgeois audience ready to be influenced now to restore the values of purer, German character. ”
In the middle of the Second World War, the director Rode was replaced in the summer of 1943 by the successful Hamburg conductor Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt. With Günther Rennert and Leopold Ludwig he got two young artists into his management team, which already refer to the artistic departure of the post-war theater. However, their work found little resonance in the increasing turmoil and destruction of the war. Così fan tutte was the first Rennert director in autumn 1943 – she was rated as “easy, witty, imaginative”. Two weeks later, on November 23, 1943, the house was bombed, shortly thereafter all the theaters were closed by the regime.
After the end of the war, the Municipal Opera again used the building of the Theater des Westens near Berliner Bahnhof Zoo until the new building built by Fritz Bornemann between 1957 and 1961 with 1865 seats on 24 September 1961 with Mozart’s Don Giovanni could be opened; the new building had cost 27.5 million marks (purchasing power adjusted in today’s currency: around 61 million euros). In 1961, at the suggestion of Ferenc Fricsay as a reaction to the construction of the wall and renamed the current name Deutsche Oper Berlin. In 1959, the Municipal Opera was awarded the German Critics’ Prize.
In the period from the opening of the new building, the Deutsche Oper, contrary to its original purpose of founding, in the role of the Representative House of the country Berlin (West), as the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, which had traditionally played this role in Berlin, together with the eastern part Berlin and the GDR was sealed off.
In order to avoid confusion with the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Opera House Unter den Linden was given its pre-war name Staatsoper Unter den Linden after the German reunification in the 1990s. In the GDR era, it was first renamed the German State Opera to underline the importance of the GDR as an independent German state.
The opera building
The architect Fritz Bornemann designed a massive outer wall to the six-lane Bismarckstraße, on which the building is located. The wall completely protects the auditorium from the street noise. The supporting effect of this main façade makes possible side facades of bare glass and column-free staircases, which aims at lightness and transparency. Staircase and foyers are popular for films and commercials because of this spatial effect as a backdrop.
In historical theater buildings, foyers and break rooms were generally retrofitted, as the lodges served the stay, including meals and discussions during the performance, while the other rooms were unadorned and the parquet was not used as a dance floor. In contrast, the foyers of the Deutsche Oper were planned from the beginning as important and prominent architectural elements. Therefore, they are not hidden hidden in mezzanines or basements, but maintain their almost equal importance in size and visibility in addition to the auditorium. They themselves are designed for space and transparency, which is determined in the décor by time-typical simplicity and reduction. Because of their size, parts of the foyers can be divided and used for theatrical performances, lectures, and festivities. Otherwise, they offer in the breaks because of the glass facade “panoramic views” to the east and west.
The auditorium is not a horseshoe-shaped theater U, but rather wide and only slightly curved, with cantilevered balconies. From every seat you can see the wide stage completely. The acoustics are the best of all Berlin music theater stages (only German and comic opera play in Berlin the opera performances without electronic sound plant for the acoustic optimization). Thus, the architecture of the auditorium of the Deutsche Oper offers a diametrical counter-proposal to the Paulick-Saal of the Staatsoper unter den Linden, which is being discussed as part of the upcoming renovation after a competition in the sense of a conception, as Bornemann in the German opera realized. The austere wall cladding of the hall tropical exotic woods, the color scheme and the targeted lighting in the hall should focus on the stage and make clear that the performance and not about representation is in the foreground. The hall has no classic boxes. Almost all ideas are given for better understanding of the text with surtitles. As a major theater architecture of the 20th century, the building is a listed building.
Tischlerei is the second venue of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. It is located at the back of the building of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The former workshop of carpenters was rebuilt in 2012 to a theater space, since then there are per season about ten premieres, guest performances and readmissions. There are also different concert series. The venue is architecturally an open space without orchestra pit, stage tower, side or rear stage. A public grandstand can be used flexibly. Programmatically, world premieres are at the center of the program: commissioned compositions, development of pieces and adaptations of older works. The carpentry sees itself as a workshop for the music theater of the 21st century, for both young and adult audiences. Singers and musicians of the Deutsche Oper Berlin meet in the carpentry on artists of the Berlin and international free scene – from avant-garde, pop, visual arts, dance and performance.
With 1859 seats, the Deutsche Oper Berlin is by far the largest opera house in Berlin today. It alone offers about 42 percent of the seats of the three Berlin houses of the Opera Foundation. That is why the house with its opera performances attracts the most visitors of the three Berlin opera houses. On the one hand, the percentage utilization is higher than that of the Komische Oper Berlin, but on the other hand less than that of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, which, however, has only 1396 seats.
The task of the Deutsche Oper Berlin is therefore the maintenance of the “great” repertoire of the 19th century with key points such as Richard Strauss, Richard Wagner, Giacomo Puccini and Giuseppe Verdi. Here were in the past both the great directorial successes of Götz Friedrich, Hans Neuenfels, Achim Freyer or in recent years z. B. The Mastersingers of Nuremberg and Tristan and Isolde of Richard Wagner. Among the successful rediscoveries at the Deutsche Oper in recent seasons u. a. Scenes from the life of St. Johanna von Walter Braunfels and Colonel Chabert from Hermann Wolfgang von Waltershausen.
The Charlottenburg Opera Orchestra is praised above all for its special versatility and its Wagnerian playing, which is why the Deutsche Oper Orchestra is one of the largest recruitment sources for the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. In the house on the Bismarckstrasse the parsifal of Richard Wagner 1914 after the expiry of the protection period German premiere outside Bayreuth. Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen in the staging of Götz Friedrich (still shown) is considered epoch-making directorial work.
Even otherwise, the Deutsche Oper is closely associated with the Bayreuth Wagner Festival. Festival director Katharina Wagner has staged Giacomo Puccini’s Il tratico at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. And if the Wagner family does not agree on the new post of the Bayreuth Festival, then the Foundation Council of the Festival has to consult a council of opera directors according to its statutes, first of all the director of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. General Music Director Donald Runnicles continues this tradition as a Wagner and Strauss specialist (also Bayreuth-experienced).
Furthermore, the house is indebted to the work of Hans Werner Henze, of which numerous works were performed and premiered here. Last but not least, the cultivation of Leoš Janáček’s repertoire has great significance for the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Among the recordings of the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper are some as “reference shots”, this is u. a. Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg under Eugen Jochum with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Catarina Ligendza, Christa Ludwig, Plácido Domingo; Verdi’s Macbeth under Giuseppe Sinopoli with Renato Bruson, Mara Zampieri, James Morris and Orff’s Carmina Burana under Eugen Jochum with Gundula Janowitz and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.
The choir of the Deutsche Oper Berlin has also made a name for itself in recent times. Three times in a row, in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010, the ensemble won the title “Chor des Jahres”, which the magazine lends to opera world through a survey of leading critics. In 2012, the choir was awarded the European Choir Prize of the European Cultural Foundation “Pro Europa”. The success of the ensemble is also attributed to the continuous work of the First Choral Director William Spaulding, who has been in office since the 2007/2008 season. Since February 2012, the former Federal President Richard von Weizsäcker honorary member of the choir of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.