Latvian National Opera
Riga already had a German-speaking theatre, which also offered opera and ballet, from 1782, and this was housed in the Riga City Theatre from 1863.
The first attempt to create a Latvian national opera was 1893, when Jēkabs Ozols' Spoku stunda ("The Ghostly Hour") was performed. The Latvian opera (Latviešu Opera) was founded in 1912 by Pāvuls Jurjāns, though almost immediately, during the First World War, the opera troupe was evacuated to Russia. In 1918, the opera restarted (Latvju Opera) led by Jāzeps Vītols, the founder of the Latvian Academy of Music. The debut performance, on January 23, 1919, was of Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer. From 1944, following the occupation of Latvia by Russia, and incorporation into the Soviet Union, the Latvian National Opera became the Latvian S.S.R. State Opera and Ballet Theater. In 1990, the theater was renamed the Latvian National Opera, but almost immediately the building was closed till 1995 for renovation and the company moved to temporary premises. For the reopening in 1995, the first opera was Jānis Mediņš’ Uguns un nakts (Fire and Night).
The National Opera House was constructed in 1863 by the St. Petersburg architect Ludwig Bohnstedt, for the then German-speaking City Theatre, and has been refurbished several times; 1882-1887 (following a fire in 1882), 1957–1958, 1991-1995 (following independence). A modern annex was added in 2001 with a 300-seat New Hall.
Directors and conductors
Riga's Deutsches Theater
- Richard Wagner had been music director in Riga 1837-1839 before the current opera building was built. Otto Lohse became the first kapellmeister at the opera building when it was the German Theatre in 1889
- other conductors included Bruno Walter 1898-1900, Fritz Busch 1909-1911, Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Clemens Krauss 1913-1914, Hermann Abendroth,
Latvian National Opera
- Jāzeps Vītols; 1919- founder
- Teodors Reiters; 1918–1944.
- Emil Cooper (Anglo-Russian); 1925–1928.
- Georg Schnéevoigt (Finnish); 1929–1931
- Ignatz Waghalter; 1933
- Leo Blech (German Jewish); 1937–1941
- Jānis Mediņš; 1920–1928
- Jānis Kalniņš; 1933–1944
- Leonīds Vīgners; 1944–1949
- Edgars Tons; 1954–1967
- Jānis Hunhens; 1954–1986
- Rihards Glāzups; 1947–1975
- Aleksandrs Viļumanis; 1970–1996.
- Gintaras Rinkevičius (Lithuanian); 1996–2003
- Andris Nelsons; 2003–2007
- Modestas Pitrėnas (Lithuanian); 2008-
- Jonathan Bousfield Baltic States Rough Guides 2004 "The Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and the Latvian National Opera are the biggest shows in town, but be sure to look out for performances by Kremerata Baltica, a chamber ensemble put together by the Riga-born violinist Gidon Kremer"
- Kevin O'Connor Culture and customs of the Baltic states 2006 p181 "The first attempt to create a Latvian national opera was J. Ozols's (1863–1902) The Ghostly Hour, performed in 1893, but cultural historians agree that the first real Latvian opera was Baņuta by the organist and composer Alfrēds Kalniņš"
- Robert Barlas, Winnie Wong Latvia- 2010 p98 "Since independence in 1991, the National Opera building has received a major facelift, restoring the original facilities to their former grandeur and adding new ones."
- Aleksandrs Viļumanis bio
- Modestas Pitrėnas