Latvian National Opera, Rīga, Latvia

The Latvian National Opera (LNO, Latvijas Nacionālā opera), Riga, is the national opera of Latvia.The opera company includes the Latvian National Ballet (LNB), LNO Chorus, and LNO Orchestra. In the course of a season that runs from September to June the Latvian National Opera and Ballet performs more than 200 performances, staging on average six new productions every season of both opera and ballet.

The Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) is a repertoire opera at Aspazijas bulvāris 3, Riga. The repertoire includes opera and ballet performances that are shown in the season (mid-September to late May). Nearly 200 shows are shown at the LNOB during one season, and an average of 6 new works are prepared. The Grand Hall has 946 seats, in the New Hall – 250 to 300 seats. It employs more than 600 staff members: 28 opera soloists, 105 orchestra musicians, 62 choral artists and 70 members of the ballet troupe. The building is located in the greenery zone of the center of the center of Riga.

The origins of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet date back to 1782, when the Rigaer Stadttheater house, built with the Haberland project, with 500 spectator seats, also known as the Muse House, was discovered. Its director, Otto Hermann von Fittinghof-Shel, was at his disposal by 24 musical big symphony orchestras. Konrad Feige, who staged performances not only in Riga, but also in St. Petersburg, Revel and Tērbatas, was invited to concert and opera concertmaster and conductor. When Fitchinghof moved to St. Petersburg in 1788, actor Meierer became the director of Musa’s house. In 1815, the Museum of the Musa (die Gesellschaft der Musse) was bought from the family of the Fittingshofs. 1837-1839. The theater chapel master was Richard Wagner.

1860-1863. Built a new Riga City Theater building with almost 2,000 spectator sites, which was opened with Friedrich Schiller’s “Vallenstein’s Camp” and Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Fidelio” productions. On June 14, 1882, the Riga City Theater was burnt down, leaving the walls alone. 1882-1887. The building burned by the city architect Rheinhold Schmelling project was restored in the year. During the First World War, theaters were closed and the Deutsches Stadttheater resumed its activities only after the German troops arrived in Riga in 1917.

Along with 1912, under the guidance of Pavlo Jurjana (1866-1948), the first Latvian operolk, the private theater “Latvian Opera” (also called “Latvian Opera”) started operating in Riga. During the First World War, the troupe evacuated to Russia, but after the conclusion of the Brestitovsky Peace Treaty in 1918, he returned to Riga. On October 15th, with the support of the Riga City Chief Pauls Hopf, the performance of Rihards Wagner’s “Flying Dutchman” took place at the present National Theater premises (the orchestra was conducted by Teodor Reiter). On November 19, “The Flying Dutchman” was shown without changing the decoration of the Statement of the State of Latvia issued last night.
After the government of the LSSR took over, on January 23, 1919, with the order of the head of the Department of Art, Department of Education, Andrejs Upits, the Latvian opera team moved to the German city theater building in Riga. On February 9th, with the basis of the Pētera Stučka Government Decree on co-operative bases, the Latvian Opera was nationalized and proclaimed “Soviet Latvian Opera”, providing regular funding from the state budget.

After the sacking of P. Stucka’s government on May 22, 1919, the troupe returned to the name Latvian Opera and was assigned to the South Latvian Brigade. In turn, after closing the Strazdumuiza ceasefire on 15 August, both city theaters were requisitioned, the German theater troupe was evicted from its building, and the Latvian Opera was gathered there. On September 23, 1919, at the meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, “Regulations on the National Opera” were adopted. A couple of times, as during the Soviet era, there was legally guaranteed theater building, the status of the national opera and public funding. 2
The performance of Rihard Wagner’s “Tanheizers” was performed at the Latvian National Opera in December, and this date was celebrated as the day the Latvian National Opera and Ballet were formed (during the LSSR, the opera was celebrated on January 23, then again on December 2nd).

The first director of the opera was Jānis Zālītis. From 1920 to 1940, the Latvian National Opera was the center of musical life in Riga. Every year, it produced up to 8 opera new productions, and ballet performances began in 1923. More than 300 performances took place over the past 20 years, which averaged 220,000 spectators each year.

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In 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia, the opera house was changed to the “State Opera and Ballet Theater of the Latvian SSR”. During the ensuing 3 years of occupation of Nazi Germany (1941-1944), he became the “Riga Operetta”, and then again the name of 1940. On April 24, 1989, the 70th anniversary celebration of the Latvian National Opera and the return to the title used during the interwar period took place.

The 1990 season was closed by Giuseppe Verdi’s “Mask Ball” show, which began the reconstruction of the building, which was completed in 1995. The opera troupe returned to their stage with the production of Johnny Medin’s “Fire and Night” opera. In 2001, completed the construction of an adjacent complex with the New Hall and 300 spectator sites.

After the restoration of the Latvian National Opera from 1996 to 2013, it was led by Andrejs Žagars, and since November 4, 2013, it is directed by Zigmars Liepins.

The first attempt to create a Latvian national opera was 1893, when Jēkabs Ozols’ Spoku stunda (“The Ghostly Hour”) was performed. The Latvian opera (Latviešu Opera) was founded in 1912 by Pāvuls Jurjāns, though almost immediately, during the First World War, the opera troupe was evacuated to Russia. In 1918, the opera restarted (Latvju Opera) led by Jāzeps Vītols, the founder of the Latvian Academy of Music. The debut performance, on January 23, 1919, was of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer. From 1944, following the occupation of Latvia by Soviet Union, and incorporation into the Soviet Union, the Latvian National Opera became the Latvian S.S.R. State Opera and Ballet Theater. In 1990, the theater was renamed the Latvian National Opera, but almost immediately the building was closed till 1995 for renovation and the company moved to temporary premises. For the reopening in 1995, the first opera was Jānis Mediņš’ Uguns un nakts (Fire and Night).

National Opera House building in the early 20th century.
The National Opera House was constructed in 1863 by the St. Petersburg architect Ludwig Bohnstedt, for the then German-speaking City Theatre, and has been refurbished several times; 1882-1887 (following a fire in 1882), 1957–1958, 1991-1995 (following independence). A modern annex was added in 2001 with a 300-seat New Hall.

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