Artist Name
Bayerisches Staatsorchester

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Munich, Deutchland






1523 to Present...


Alternate Name
Bavarian State Opera Orchestra

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At the beginning of the history of the Munich opera is the courtly splendor of the young Italian "dramma per musica", that new, initially elitist, but later - in Venice - fast becoming popular form of musical theater. The Elector Ferdinand Maria erected a hall theater in the Herkulessaal of the Residenz, in which the first Italian operatic representations were staged in front of the court society. At the same time he built the first freestanding opera house in Germany according to a plan of his father Maximilian I. By transforming the old granary, the so-called "Haberkasten" on Salvatorplatz, into a Baroque theater. The courtly equipment opera used mostly mythological fabrics and allegorical figures to pay homage to the court of princes. Often the technical equipment with flying machines, naval battles and triumphal trains competed with the music.

Under the reign of Elector Max II Emanuel in the years 1679 to 1726, the Italian opera continued its triumphant advance in Munich. His successor Max III. Joseph also had Francois Cuvilliés build the "Theater de la Residenza", the Residenztheater - still known today as the "Cuvilliés Theater" for opera visitors from all over the world. The "drama per musica" had become the "opera seria" with the cult of the aria, the bel canto, the prima donna and the castrati. Gradually, however, folk music and singing plays developed everywhere from the middle classes. The subjects of mythology and the praise of the prince gave way to livelier references from the bourgeois sphere. New decisive impulses came for example from the revolutionary French "opéra comique" or the Viennese and Leipzig Singspiel.

The "opera buffa" consists of a mixture of various stylistic elements, the Mozart at the age of 19 still under the reign of Max III. Joseph had composed as his first Munich commissioned opera entitled La finta giardiniera . Six years later, on behalf of the Elector Karl Theodor, he wrote his "opera seria", the Idomeneo , a work that - premiered at the Residenztheater on January 29, 1781 - meant a decisive breakthrough for the 25-year-old Mozart.

The artistic and political currents in the first quarter of the 19th century were determined by Max IV Joseph, who ruled from 1799 as Elector, then since the rise of Bavaria as kingdom as King Max I from 1806 to 1825. In 1802 the old "Haberkasten" on Salvatorplatz was demolished. The "Hof-National-Schaubühne" wandered as "Churfürstliches Hoftheater" into the theater Cuvilliés'. One of the last decisive acts of the first Bavarian King Max was the laying of the foundation stone for the construction of the Royal Court and National Theater at Marstallplatz in 1811. The house, built to plans by Carl von Fischer, burned down on January 14, 1823, but under the direction of the Thanks to the willingness of the Munich citizens, architects Leo von Klenze reopened his doors two years later.

With the accession to the throne of King Ludwig I, who administered the legacy of his father from 1825 to 1848, and with the revival of the new National Theater, a new epoch of the Munich Opera began again. One of the king's first actions was the closure of the People's Theater on Isartor and the final dissolution of Italian opera. This opened the way for the domestic forces, but also for all pan-European trends.

The reign of the art-loving Bavarian fairytale King Ludwig II from 1864 to 1886 is closely linked to the name Richard Wagner. Shortly after his accession to the throne, the nineteen-year-old king brought the completely indebted composer, whose Lohengrin had charmed him two years earlier, to Munich. A controversial and politically tragic friendship between prince and musician brought a new heyday in the history of Munich opera and music drama in general. The landmarks of this development are the world premieres of five masterpieces by Richard Wagner. On June 10, 1865, the new court Kapellmeister Hans von Bülow conducted Tristan and Isolde and three years later The Meistersinger of Nuremberg in the presence of the King. It was followed on 22 September 1869 and on 26 June 1870, the premiere of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre under the direction of Franz Wüllner. In 1888 the fairies were premiered. The Royal Court and National Theater was the focus of the European music world.

Under the 1867-93 reigning GeneralInternanten Karl von Perfall began the festival. For the first time in 1875 he organized a festive summer with operas by Mozart and music dramas by Wagner. The Festspielidee pushed with time for its own Festspielhaus - so was born under the new Generalintendanten Ernst von Possart at the turn of the century within a year the Prinzregententheater, grown from the desire of the citizens and funded by the art-loving Prince Regent Luitpold. The opening on August 21, 1901 with the Meistersinger under Hermann Zumpe was a real celebration of the people and ushered in a golden age of the Munich Opera Festival.

Zumpes successor Felix Mottl prepared Richard Strauss the ground in the hometown of Munich, although he initially scared the bourgeois audience with the premiere of Salome , Elektra and the resumption of the mocking song poem Feuersnot . His last major conducting performance was the Munich premiere of the Rosenkavalier on February 1, 1911, since Richard Strauss along with Mozart and Wagner resonates in the triad of the Munich Opera Festival. Well-known artists such as Enrico Caruso, Karl Erb and Maria Ivogün provided the Munich Opera with world fame at this time.

The premieres under Bruno Walter opened new worlds of sound to the Munich public with the main works of Franz Schreker, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Max von Schilling and with Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss. Since 1922, Bruno Walters successor Hans Knappertsbusch in 14 years of continuous action of the Munich Opera has again a new, no less strong character. In his time, conductors such as Robert Heger, Karl Elmendorff, Paul Schmitz, Karl Böhm and Carl Tutein unfolded. Wilhelm Furtwängler and Hans Pfitzner stood at the conductor's desks of the National Theater and the Prinzregententheater. When Hans Knappertsbusch had to go along with Clemens von Franckenstein in 1934 as a politically outlaw, the Munich opera remained virtually deserted for two years. His name, however, became a legend.

During the Third Reich, Munich was to receive a new opera house. With Clemens Krauss, who united the powers of a Generalintendanten and a Generalmusikdirektor happily in his hand, the Munich Opera was able to develop despite oppression and war. Clemens Krauss' highlights in his work and in the history of the National Theater include the première of three works by his friend Richard Strauss, three dreamlike anachronisms that were artistic reality: Friedenstag 1938, Verklungene Feste 1941 and Capriccio 1942. On October 4, 1943, the National Theater was transformed into a ghostly ruin. Further destruction and damage and the proclamation of the "total war" in August 1944 silenced the State Opera for the time being.

The hardships of a new departure were taken up by the artistic director Georg Hartmann and his music director Georg Solti. After successfully advocating for Paul Hindemith and Heinrich Sutermeister, and Werner Egk had come out in 1948 with the world premiere of his Faust ballet Abraxas , they organized in 1950 the first Munich Opera Festival after the war. They thus created a sustainable foundation for their successors.

Rudolf Hartmann worked as State Director for 15 years from 1952 to 1967. As general music directors Rudolf Kempe, Ferenc Fricsay and Joseph Keilberth assisted him. In the era of Rudolf Hartmann fall two significant events: the entry into the restored Cuvilliés Theater in 1958 with the Marriage of Figaro and the reopening of the National Theater on November 21, 1963, with the help of the "Friends of the National Theater" according to the plans of Gerhard Graubner and Karl Fischer in the old classicistic splendor as a phoenix emerged from the ashes.

A new era of the Munich Opera began in 1967, when Günther Rennert took over the management of the house. Together with Wolfgang Sawallisch, who served as general music director from 1968, Rennert realized his comprehensive conception of a balanced fusion of director's theater and music theater into a world-class theater of modern character. His plans and work included, to a greater extent than before him, world-famous guests, directors such as Boleslav Barlog, August Everding, Leopold Lindtberg, Oscar Fritz Schuh, Vaclav Kaslik, Otto Schenk, Bohumil Herlischka and Jean- Pierre Ponnelle. With the 1976 festival Günther Rennert said goodbye to the Munich Opera.

After an interim year led by Wolfgang Sawallisch August Everding was Intendant until 1982. His repertoire from Monteverdi to Reimann included traditional operas as well as the works of contemporary music theater. The culmination of the five directorial years of August Everding, in which many international opera stars came to Munich for the first time, was the premiere of Aribert Reimann's opera Lear in the production of Jean -Pierre Ponnelle on July 9, 1978. 1983 Everding took over as general manager of the Bavarian State Theater new tasks. Wolfgang Sawallisch became State Opera Director and General Music Director in personal union artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera.

Wolfgang Sawallisch was tempted to demonstrate the extraordinary possibilities and the efficiency of "his" house by performing large work cycles. In 1983 he offered a unique opportunity to experience all 13 musical dramas of Richard Wagner. In 1988, he presented all stage works Richard Strauss for discussion in an unprecedented performance cycle. In 1987, during the current season, he completely reissued Wagner's Ring within 10 days. At a time when the top-level productions of large houses are becoming increasingly interchangeable in terms of work selection and occupation, he was looking for individual artistic paths. In the ten years of his tenure as State Opera Director, he tried to emphasize the profile of the Munich Opera, for example by the greater emphasis on the opera and a special emphasis on classical modernism.

From 1993 until the end of the season 2005/06 Sir Peter Jonas was artistic director of the Bavarian State Opera. The German-born Englishman was previously Artistic Director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the English National Opera in London. With all respect for tradition, Peter Jonas pursued the theatrical element of the opera, including the visual aspect, more than its predecessors. New directors and new stage designers gave the traditional house an innovative, adventurous profile, which was conveyed through a contemporary PR concept.

Sir Peter (raised in 1999 by the British Queen for his services to the Bavarian State Opera) quickly brought the long-neglected Baroque opera back into the repertoire and together with the conductor Ivor Bolton and directors Richard Jones , David Alden and Martin Duncan to develop and establish a new Munich baroque style. Also the program of the festival was extended: The Prinzregententheater as a venue could be recovered. "Opera for all" appeals to a broad audience. The border-crossing experimental series Festspiel + not only expanded the festival program, but also broadened the concept of theater to include new influences from other artistic genres.

From 1998 to 2006, with Zubin Mehta again a great conductor has directed the musical destiny of the house, also he with all respect for tradition, but curious look forward.

After Sir Peter Jonas and Zubin Mehta had decided not to extend their contracts beyond the year 2006, Nikolaus Bachler became director of the Bavarian State Opera at the beginning of the 2008/2009 season. Kent Nagano had already taken over the office of Bavarian General Music Director at the beginning of the 2006/2007 season. Together with an interim directorate (Ronald H. Adler, Dr. Roland Felber / Dr Roland Schwab and Dr. Ulrike Hessler), he headed the Bavarian State Opera until the inauguration of Nikolaus Bachler. With the season 2013/14 Kirill Petrenko took over the post of General Music Director. He made his debut with Richard Strauss' The Woman Without a Shadow .
With his understanding of music theater as a live experience, as a theater, "expanded and condensed around the dimension of music", Nikolaus Bachler would like to give special weight to the dramaturgical aspect. In addition to the exceptional musical, theatrical and aesthetic aspirations, this is one of the three essential pillars of musical theater.

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Last Edit by Axel1105
26th Mar 2022



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