Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt

Theatre and Opera house (2014)
Building at night (2006)
From above

Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt is the official name of the opera and drama theatres in Frankfurt am Main. The Oper Frankfurt (Frankfurt Opera) is one of the leading opera houses in Europe, and voted best "Opera house of the year" several times since 2003.

The more famous historical building of the Alte Oper serves as a concert hall today.


Frankfurt's first opera was Johann Theile's Adam und Eva, performed in 1698 by Johann Velten's touring company. The young Goethe's first operas in his home town of Frankfurt were productions by Theobold Marchand's company.[1]


During the 1920s the opera in Frankfurt had more prominent Jewish singers than any other company in Germany, including the tenor Hermann Schramm, bass Hans Erl (the first King in Schreker's Der Schatzgräber), baritone Richard Breitenfeld and contralto Magda Spiegel, who also toured with Frankfurt Opera performing Wagner in the Netherlands. These singers were forced to leave the opera in June 1933, though the opera's director Hans Meissner was able to persuade the mayor to speak up for Schramm, who had a non-Jewish wife. Other Jewish members of the opera company among those rounded up at 9 November 1938 at the Festhalle Frankfurt, where Erl sang In diesen Heilgen Hallen, from the Magic Flute for the deportees. Members of Frankfurt Opera were sent to Auschwitz and other camps where they perished. Schramm survived, living to testify against the Frankfurt Gestapo officer Heinrich Baab in 1951.


The "Alte Oper" was damaged in an air raid in January 1944, and then almost completely destroyed in March. After the war money was tight.[2]

The Gielen years

From 1978 to 1988 Frankfurt Opera was led by Michael Gielen.[3] This decade became known as the "Gielen Era", notable for the music of a conductor who was also a composer, and directors including Ruth Berghaus and Hans Neuenfels, whose productions of standard works such as Verdi's Aida or Wagner's Ring Cycle were thought-provoking. Operas which received their world premieres at the house were also performed, including Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten.

1989 to date

Many famous singers started their career with the company, including Franz Völker, Edda Moser, Cheryl Studer and Diana Damrau), and many established artists have been engaged there in recent seasons including Christian Gerhaher, whose roles here have included Monteverdi's L'Orfeo and his first Wolfram in Tannhäuser, Piotr Beczała in Massenet's Werther and Jan-Hendrik Rootering in Wagner's Parsifal.

Music Director, since 2008, is Sebastian Weigle, General Manager, since 2002, Bernd Loebe. Weigle's new productions there have included Strauss' Frau ohne Schatten, Daphne and Arabella, Korngold's Die tote Stadt, Reimann's Lear and Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauß. He has also conducted performances of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, Beethoven's Fidelio, Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and Parsifal for the company.[4] He performed the four parts of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, staged by Vera Nemirova, finishing with Götterdämmerung in 2012.[5] The complete cycle was performed twice in 2012.[6]




  • Since 2009 Oliver Reese
  • Elisabeth Schweeger 2001–2009
  • Peter Eschberg 1991–2001
  • Hans-Peter Doll 1990–1991
  • Günther Rühle 1985–1990
  • Adolf Dresen 1981–1985
  • Wilfried Minks/Johannes Schaaf 1980–1981
  • Peter Palitzsch 1972–1980
  • Ulrich Erfurth 1968–1972

  • Harry Buckwitz 1951–1968
  • Richard Weichert/Heinz Hilpert 1947–1951
  • Toni Impekoven 1945–1947
  • Hans Meissner 1933–1944
  • Alwin Kronbacher 1929–1933
  • Richard Weichert 1920–1929
  • Karl Zeiss 1916–1920
  • Max Behrend 1912–1916
  • Emil Claar 1879–1912


  1. F. M. Stockdale, M. R. Dreyer The Opera Guide 1990 342
  2. Die Frankfurter "Alte Oper": Baumonographie eines Opernhauses Christiane Wolf Di Cecca - 1997 p225 "Das Frankfurter Opernhaus erfährt am 29. Januar 1944 durch einen Luftangriff zunächst eine leichte, schließlich in der Nacht zum 23. März 1944 eine schwere Beschädigung. Nach dem Krieg fehlt vor allem zunächst das Geld für Abriß und ..."
  3. Richard Wagner, Fritz Lang, and the Nibelungen ix David J. Levin - 1999 "For a decade, 1978 to 1988, Frankfurt Opera under Michael Gielen was such a place. ' He hired some of the most interesting and innovative production teams — stage directors as well as set and costume designers ..."
  4. "Sebastian Weigle". Frankfurt Opera. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  5. Friedeon Rosén (29 January 2012). "Frankfurt: Götterdämmerung – Premiere" (in German). der-neue-merker.eu. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
  6. "Der Ring des Nibelungen Cycle 1". oper-frankfurt.de. Retrieved 5 March 2012.

External links

Coordinates: 50°06′29″N 8°40′27″E / 50.10806°N 8.67417°E / 50.10806; 8.67417

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