Opéra national du Rhin
L'Opéra national du Rhin is an opera company which performs in Alsace, eastern France, and which includes the Opéra in Strasbourg, the company's ballet in Mulhouse (a national centre for choreography since 1985), and the "Opéra Studio" (formerly the "Jeunes Voix du Rhin"), a training centre for young singers, in Colmar. A reflection of its importance is the status of “national opera” which it has held since 1997. Performances of seven or eight operas per season are given in Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Colmar.
The first opera house opened in Strasbourg in 1701 in a converted granary. After a fire and temporary locations, a new Theatre Municipal opened in the Place Broglie in 1821. This building was virtually gutted during the German bombardment of 1870, but it was rebuilt in identical style, re-opening in 1873.
During the German era up to 1919, several eminent conductors held posts at the Strasbourg opera: Hans Pfitzner (1910–19), Wilhelm Furtwängler (1910–11), Otto Klemperer (1914–17) and George Szell (1917–1919). From 1919-38 Paul Bastide was musical director; he returned after the Second World War with notable stagings of Béatrice et Bénédict (first French staging), and Martine by Rabaud (premiere).
From 1948-53, under Roger Lalande, the theatre saw the first French productions of Peter Grimes (1949), Mathis der Maler (1951), and The Rake's Progress (1952). The spirit of innovation continued under Frédéric Adam, director from 1955-72 - a Ring with Birgit Nilsson and French premieres of Il prigioniero, Oedipus rex, Jenůfa, Die Frau ohne Schatten and Dalibor; there was also a production of Les Troyens.
The merger to form the Opéra du Rhin took place in 1972 under the conductor Alain Lombard, with the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg and the Orchestre symphonique de Mulhouse being the performance orchestras in those locations. In the early years, Lombard attempted to revive the repertoire, as well as attract big names such as Birgit Nilsson and Montserrat Caballé.
At the end of the 1970s Lombard was succeeded by René Terrasson, a former singer and architect, who also produced some works himself. Since that time, directors have included Laurent Spielman (1991-1997), Rudolf Berger (1997-2003), and Nicholas Snowman (2003-2009). Since 2009, the current director is Marc Clémeur.
- Pitt, C. "Strasbourg", The New Grove Dictionary of Opera. Macmillan, London & New York, 1997.
- Tubeuf, A. "Report from Strasbourg", Opera, February 1984, pp. 152-3
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