THE FIRST CRISIS
When financial mismanagement and lack of public interest threatened the opera’s existence, the pious theologians to whom the sensuous nature of the opera had long been a thorn in the flesh now felt justified, and sharpened their attacks. In 1738, the opera house finally ceased to operate as an independent company.
Up until the building was finally demolished in 1763 it served primarily as a venue for travelling troupes of comedians. Nonetheless, this is the way Italian opera came to Hamburg. Thus, for example, the 32 year old Christoph Willibald Gluck performed in Hamburg with the Antonio Mingotti opera company.
On the 31st of July 1756, on the initiative of Konrad Ernst Ackermann, the “Ackermann'sche Comödiantenhaus" opened. Pure opera no longer featured, instead a mixture of music theatre and drama was the order of the day. From 1767 onwards, due to Lessing, the theatre was known as the “Deutsche Nationaltheater”. Lessing was Literary and Artistic Director in Hamburg until 1797, during which time he published his “Hamburger Dramaturgie”.
In 1771, Friedrich Ludwig Schröder took over the management and mostly opted for drama. Polished productions of the works of Lessing, Schiller and Goethe as well as first German performances of major Shakespeare plays dominated, mixed with Singspiel works from Christian Weisse and Johann Adam Hiller. In 1781, the first Mozart opera was staged – “Entführung aus dem Serail”. But the next, “Don Giovanni”, with Mozart’s sister-in-law Aloysia Lange in the cast, had to wait eight years. Then, in 1791, came “The Marriage of Figaro”, followed by “The Magic Flute” in 1793. From 1810 onwards the theatre was known as the Hamburg State Theatre. In the period up to 1827, performances of Rossini’s “Barber of Seville" (1812), Beethoven’s "Fidelio" (1816) and Weber’s “Freischütz" (1822) were amongst the highlights.