The Stuttgart Staatsoper forms part of the Stuttgart State Theatre (Staatstheater Stuttgart), which is a three-branch theatre complex (opera, playhouse and ballet) and represents the largest theatre of its kind in Europe. The opera house itself, formerly known locally as the Grosses Haus, was designed by Max Littmann and opened in 1912. The house, which has been a listed building since 1924, currently has 1,404 seats and a per-season audience of approximately 250,000. The opera house building is one of the few major German opera houses not to be destroyed in the World War II. The smaller playhouse ("Kleines Haus"), site of the world premiere of Richard Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" was destroyed in the war and replaced by a modern building, built between 1959 and 1962. The opera house is also home to the Stuttgart Ballet.
An important centre for opera since the 17th century, Stuttgart has again become an important and influential centre since the war, particularly for contemporary works. Three operas by Carl Orff received their premieres there and the company has been associated with figures such as Wieland Wagner, Günther Rennert, Hans Werner Henze and Philip Glass.
Klaus Zehelein era (1991–2006)
During the era of Opera Intendant Klaus Zehelein, the company has won the Opera House of the Year award by the German magazine Opernwelt more often than any other company: in 1994 (the inaugural award), 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002 and in 2006. Pamela Rosenberg was co-opera Intendant between 1991 and 2000, with Eytan Pessen acting as casting director from 2001 to 2006. Klaus Zehelein brought in directors Ruth Berghaus, Christoph Nel, Hans Neuenfels, Peter Konwitchny and Jossi Wieler. He created the Junge Oper (an institute dedicated to performing music theater works for young audiences). Numerous CD and DVD productions document Zehelein's interest in modern works and new staging concepts. Under Zehelein's direction the Stuttgart Opera was an ensemble based opera company, Catherine Naglestad, Eva-Maria Westbroek were members of his ensemble, Jonas Kaufmann a frequent guest artist. Music directors were Gabriele Ferro and Lothar Zagrosek, Nicola Luisotti conducted frequently during Zehelein's era. Zehelein was succeeded by Albrecht Puhlmann.
Jossi Wieler became Intendant (artistic director) of the company in 2011, succeeding Albrecht Puhlmann. The most recent Generalmusikdirektor was Manfred Honeck, from 2007 to 2011. In April 2010, Wieler appointed Sylvain Cambreling the next music director of the company, effective with the 2012/13 season.
Stuttgart productions on DVD: Glass's Satyagraha (1983), Handel's Alcina (1999), Hartmann's Simplicius Simplicissimus (2005), Mozart's La finta giardiniera [2006), Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen (2003), and Zimmermann's Die Soldaten (1989)
- "Junge Oper Stuttgart" on reseo.org. Retrieved 28 July 2013
- Television documentary. Nobert Beilharz, Una Cosa rara – Klaus Zehelein und die Stuttgarter Oper (2003)
- Juliane Votteler, Musiktheater heute. Klaus Zehelein. Dramaturg und Intendant, Europäische Verlagsanstalt/Rotbuch Verlag, Hamburg 2000,
- Johanne Tremblay, "Klaus Zehelein and the Stuttgart State Opera: When tradition and innovation go hand in hand", International Journal of Arts Management, Volume 6, n° 3 — V631, 2004. ISBN 0-01-480898-6
- Andrew Druckebrod (2009-11-17). "Manfred Honeck to leave Stuttgart Opera". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-12-25.
- "Generalmusikdirektor Honeck verlässt Stuttgart". Süd Kurier. 16 November 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2009.
- Jürgen Kanold (9 July 2011). "Honecks Stuttgarter Klangkultur". Schwäbisches Tagblatt. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Jürgen Kanold (15 April 2010). "Staatsoper Stuttgart holt Cambreling". Schwäbisches Tagblatt. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
- Bauman, Thomas and Koegler, Horst: "Stuttgart", New Grove Dictionary of Opera, ed. Stanley Sadie (London, 1992) ISBN 0-333-73432-7
- Staatsoper Stuttgart website (in German)