Staatsoper Hamburg

Staatsoper Hamburg Keyvisual


From bourgeois prestige project to touring company

In 1827 the old timber building on the Gänsemarkt had served its purpose. The new “Stadt-Theater”, built to plans by Carl Friedrich Schinkel, was opened on the 3rd of May 1827 on the site of today’s State Opera, in Dammtorstrasse, with a performance of Goethe’s “Egmont" and accompanying music from Ludwig van Beethoven. The acoustics of the new Stadt-Theater, like the capacity of 2,800 seats, went into new realms.

Equipped in this way, Hamburg was able to play on the international opera stage. The outstanding highlights of the next decades included Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient’s guest appearance in Beethoven’s “Fidelio" (1832), the performance of “Vestalin" by Gasparo Spontini, conducted by the composer himself (1834), the concerts given by Niccolo Paganini (1830) and Franz Liszt (1840) as well as the appearances of “Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind. The latter caused an emotional to-do the like of which the Hamburg public had never before experienced.

In 1844 composers Richard Wagner and Giuseppe Verdi frequently took turns. Their music had a major impact on the music of the latter half of the nineteenth century. Wagner directed and conducted his own “Rienzi” in Hamburg, and “Nabucco” was the first Verdi opera to be performed in Germany.

But the story of the opera house at that time was not entirely all success. Time and again, imminent financial ruin threatened. The day was saved by Bernhard Pollini, the experienced theatre director who took over the theatre in 1873. He managed to obtain public funds for it for the first time. Under his direction, the tradition of staging operas by Verdi and Wagner continued with “Aida" (1876) and the “The Ring of the Nibelung" (1878). And the first German performances of Verdi’s “Othello" and Tchaikovsky’s “Eugene Onegin" (1892) took place in Hamburg. Pollini also had a knack for choosing his directors. After Hans von Bülow (1887-1890), Gustav Mahler took over for six years, in 1891. Mahler made the opera house a musical centre of standing with thirteen premières and first performances during the 1896/97 season.

New building of the Stadt-Theater in the Dammtorstraße (1826/27) by Carl L. Wimmel using plans by Karl F. Schinkel.

The auditorium of the Hamburg State Opera was built in 1826. It burned completely out after a bombing raid in 1943. The iron curtain saved the stage area at that time.

The Hamburg State Opera (former Stadt-Theater) on the Dammtorstraße with cladding and attic from 1874. The new stage area was built in 1925/26 and still stands today.