Deutsche Oper Berlin
The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.
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The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.
After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.
Past Generalmusikdirectoren (general music directors) have included Bruno Walter, Kurt Adler, Ferenc Fricsay, Lorin Maazel, Gerd Albrecht, Jesús López-Cobos, Christian Thielemann. In October 2005, the Italian conductor Renato Palumbo was appointed Generalmusikdirector as of the 2006/2007 season. In October 2007, the Deutsche Oper announced the appointment of Donald Runnicles as their next Generalmusikdirector, effective August 2009, for an initial contract of five years. Simultaneously, Palumbo and the Deutsche Oper mutually agreed to terminate his contract, effective November 2007.
On the evening of 2 June 1967, Benno Ohnesorg, a student taking part in the German student movement, was shot in the streets around the opera house. He had been protesting against the visit to Germany by the Shah of Iran, who was attending a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
In September 2006, the Deutsche Oper's Intendantin (general manager) Kirsten Harms drew criticism after she cancelled the production of Mozart's opera Idomeneo by Hans Neuenfels, because of fears that a scene in it featuring the severed heads of Jesus, Buddha and Muhammad would offend Muslims, and that the opera house's security might come under threat if violent protests took place. Critics of the decision include German Ministers and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The reaction from Muslims has been mixed — the leader of Germany's Islamic Council welcomed the decision, whilst a leader of Germany's Turkish community, criticising the decision, said:
This is about art, not about politics ... We should not make art dependent on religion — then we are back in the Middle Ages.
At the end of October 2006, the opera house announced that performances of Mozart's opera Idomeneo would then proceed. Kirsten Harms, after announcing in 2009 that she would not renew her contract beyond 2011, was farewelled in July of that year.
Intendanten (General Managers)
- Georg Hartmann (1912–1923)
- Wilhelm Holthoff von Faßmann (1923–1925)
- Heinz Tietjen (1925–1931)
- Carl Ebert (1931–1933)
- Max von Schillings (1933)
- Wilhelm Rode (1934–1943)
- Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt (1943–1944)
- Michael Bohnen (1945–1947)
- Heinz Tietjen (1948–1954)
- Carl Ebert, again (1954–1961)
- Gustav Rudolf Sellner (1961–1972)
- Egon Seefehlner (1972–1976)
- Siegfried Palm (1976–1981)
- Götz Friedrich (1981–2000)
- André Schmitz (interim, 2000–2001)
- Udo Zimmermann (2001–2003)
- Heinz Dieter Sense / Peter Sauerbaum (interim, 2003–2004)
- Kirsten Harms (2004–2011)
- Christoph Seuferle (interim, 2011–2012)
- Dietmar Schwarz (since August 2012)
Generalmusikdirektoren (Music Directors)
- Ignatz Waghalter (1912–1923)
- Bruno Walter (1925–1929)
- Kurt Adler, resident conductor (1932–1933)
- Artur Rother (1935–1943, 1953–1958)
- Karl Dammer (1937–1943)
- Ferenc Fricsay (1949–1952)
- Richard Kraus (1954–1961)
- Heinrich Hollreiser, chief conductor (1961–1964)
- Lorin Maazel (1965–1971)
- Gerd Albrecht, resident conductor (1972–74)
- Jesús López-Cobos (1981–1990)
- Giuseppe Sinopoli (1990)
- Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos (1992–1997)
- Christian Thielemann (1997–2004)
- Renato Palumbo (2006–2008)
- Donald Runnicles (2009–present)
- Ben Mattison (7 October 2005). "Deutsche Oper Berlin Names Music Director". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 2 September 2007.
- Matthew Westphal (31 October 2007). "In Sudden Appointment, Donald Runnicles Named Next Music Director of Deutsche Oper Berlin". Playbill Arts. Retrieved 1 November 2007.
- David Fickling (27 September 2006). "Merkel voices concern over opera cancellation". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 September 2006.
- "Fear Of Muslim Ire Stops German Opera". CBS News Online. 27 September 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2006.
- "Shelved Muhammad opera to return". BBC News Online. 27 October 2006. Retrieved 10 November 2006.
- Goldmann, A.J. (December 2009). "Die Frau ohne Schatten (Berlin, Deutsche Oper Berlin)". Opera News 74 (6). Retrieved 3 April 2011.
- Rosemarie Frühauf, "Abschied in Berlin von Deutsche Oper-Intendantin Kirsten Harms", The Epoch Times, 11 July 2011. Retrieved 24 December 2011.
- Media related to Deutsche Oper Berlin at Wikimedia Commons
- Deutsche Oper Berlin
- Interview with Deutsche Oper musical director Donald Runnicles in Exberliner Magazine