Staatsoper Hamburg

Staatsoper Hamburg Keyvisual


En route towards direction-focussed theatre

During the course of the three years when Heinz Tietjen was Manager and Artistic Director, Wieland Wagner staged “Lohengrin”. In August 1959 the fourteen-year reign of Rolf Liebermann began. As successor to successful Manager and Artistic Director and Director Günther Rennert, who frequently still staged productions at the Hamburg State Opera, Liebermann sought to enhance the worth of the conservative artistic approach. Liebermann was a composer as well as Manager and Artistic Director, and his dearest wish was to save the art form opera from paralysis. In the unshakable belief that modern opera can also be attractive to the general public, he commissioned compositions. In the years between 1959 and 1973, Hamburg State Opera produced 28 premières of operas and ballets, including works from Hans Werner Henze’s “The Prince of Homburg", Penderecki’s “The Devils of Loudon“ and, in the 72/73 season, Mauricio Kagel’s “Staatstheater". Rolf Liebermann not only defined the world of opera in Hamburg, he also defined the international scene. During the “Week of Contemporary Music Theatre” event, held in February 1961, nine modern music theatre productions were staged in an 8-day period. These included Britten’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, Berg’s “Lulu" and “Wozzeck" and Liebermann’s own composition entitled “Schule der Frauen".

At the same time he put an end to the practice of having one cast for première performances and another for normal performances, thus ensuring that high artistic standards were maintained throughout. Under the aegis of Liebermann, tenor Plácido Domingo also began his global career in Hamburg. Later on, in his autobiographical work entitled “Opera Years”, Liebermann described his time at the Hamburg State Opera as one of the happiest times of his life.

Plácido Domingo in „Aida“ 1970 (production Filippo Sanjust)

Debut performance of Mauricio Kagel’s “Staatstheater” 1971 (production Kagel)