Essential Architecture-  Berlin

Berlin State Opera Deutsche Staatsoper (Lindenoper) former "Königliche Hofoper"


Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff


Unter den Linden Nr. 8, between the east and west Bebelplatz.


1741 - 43 destroyed in WW2, rebuilt 1951-55






Opera Theatre
Berlin State Opera (in German: Staatsoper Unter den Linden) is a prominent German opera company. Its permanent home is the Opera House on the Unter den Linden boulevard in Berlin.

Early years

Berlin Court Opera, rebuilt after a fire in 1843 Frederick II commissioned the original building on the site and construction work began in July 1741 with what was designed to be the first part of a "Forum Fredericianum". Although not entirely completed, the Court Opera (Hofoper) was inaugurated with a performance of Carl Heinrich Graun's Cleopatra e Cesare on December 7, 1742. This event marked the beginning of the successful, 250 year old cooperation between the Staatsoper and the Staatskapelle Berlin, the state orchestra, whose roots trace back to the 16th century.

In 1842, Gottfried Wilhelm Taubert instituted the tradition of regular symphonic concerts. In the same year, Giacomo Meyerbeer succeeded Gaspare Spontini as General Music Director. Felix Mendelssohn also conducted symphonic concerts for a year.

On August 18, 1843 the Linden Opera was destroyed by fire. A new opera building, with Carl Ferdinand Langhans as architect, was inaugurated the following fall by a performance of Meyerbeer's Ein Feldlager in Schlesien.

In 1821, the Berlin Opera gave the premiere of Weber's Der Freischütz. In 1849, it premiered Otto Nicolai's Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor, conducted by the composer himself.

20th century
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, the Berlin opera attracted many illustrious conductors. including Felix von Weingartner, Karl Muck, Richard Strauss, and Leo Blech.

After the collapse of the German Empire in 1918, the Opera was renamed "Staatsoper unter den Linden" and the "Königliche Kapelle" became "Kapelle der Staatsoper".

In the 1920s, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Erich Kleiber, Otto Klemperer, Alexander von Zemlinsky, Bruno Walter occupying the conductor's post. In 1925, Alban Berg's Wozzeck, was given its premiere in a production conducted by Erich Kleiber in the composer's presence.

After having undergone an extensive renovation, the Linden Opera reopened in April 1928 with a new production of Die Zauberflöte. In the same year, the famous Russian bass Feodor Chaliapin and Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes with conductor Ernest Ansermet are guest performers. In 1930 Erich Kleiber conducted premiere of Darius Milhaud's Christoph Columbus. However, in 1934, when symphonic pieces from Alban Berg's Lulu were performed by Kleiber, the National Socialists provoked a scandal and he was forced into exile.

After Hitler's Nazi takeover, members of Jewish origin were dismissed from the ensemble. Many German musicians associated with the opera went into exile, including the conductors Otto Klemperer and Fritz Busch. During the Third Reich, Robert Heger, Johannes Schüler and Herbert von Karajan were the "Staatskapellmeister". In 1944, under Karajan's baton that the first stereo recording was made.

During World War II, the opera house was completely destroyed by bombing twice. The first reconstructions happened quickly, and the theatre was soon reopened with a performance of Wagners Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

Postwar years
The second rebuilding one took a long time. From 1945, the opera company played in the former Admiralspalast (today's Metropoltheater). From 1949, the company served as state opera of the GDR. It moved back to its original home after the rebuilding in freely adapted baroque forms was finally completed in 1955. The newly rebuilt opera house was opened, again, with Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.

After the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, the Opera was somewhat isolated, but still maintained a comprehensive repertoire that featured the classic and romantic period together with contemporary ballet and operas.

After reunification, the Linden Opera rejoined the operatic world. Important works that had already performed in the past were rediscovered and discussed anew within the framework of a "Berlin Dramaturgy". Baroque Opera in particular was at the center of attention, with Cleopatra e Cesare, Croesus, L'Opera seria and Griselda. These works were performed by Belgian conductor René Jacobs together with the Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and the Freiburger Barockorchester on period instruments. In the 1990s, the opera was officially renamed "Staatsoper Unter den Linden".

In 1992, the Argentine-Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim was appointed Music Director. During the 2002 Festtage, he led a Wagner cycle in ten parts, a production created in collaboration with director Harry Kupfer.


Built 1741-1743 by as "Königliches Opernhaus" by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff for the Prussian King, Friedrich II. Opened 7 Dec 1742 with Graun's "Cleopatra e Cesare". The building comprised three separate halls: the foyer and banquet hall "Apollosaal", the "Tanz- und Theatersaal" (used as main auditorium for opera performances), and the "Korinthischer Saal" (used as stage for opera performances), all of which could be linked mechanically to form one big festive hall.

1787 auditorium rebuilding, installation of proscenium boxes and a royal box, modernization of stage technology (with destruction of the original "Korinthischer Saal") by Carl Gotthard Langhans. Auditorium destroyed by a fire in 1843. 1843-1844 auditorium rebuilding, rebuilding of concert hall "Apollosaal", and extension of the stagehouse by Carl Ferdinand Langhans. Re-opened 7 Dec 1844 with Meyerbeer's "Das Feldlager in Schlesien". 1867-1869 extension of the stagehouse to the south by Carl Ferdinand Langhans. 1910 extension of the stagehouse by a fly tower. 1919 renamed "Staatsoper". 1926-1928 crosswise extension of the stagehouse by two side wings, auditorium renovations, reduction of "Apollosaal" by E. Fürstenau. After the 1910 and 1926-1928 rebuidlings, hardly any resemblance with Knobelsdorff's original building remained (with the exception of the main façade). Damaged by bombs on 9/10 Apr 1941. Rebuilt 1941-1942 by E. Meffert. Again destroyed by bombs on 3 Feb 1945. From 1945 to 1955, the opera company performed in the "Theater im Admiralspalast" (today's "Metropol-Theater").

1952-1955 rebuilt as "Deutsche Staatsoper" by Richard Paulick. Exterior rebuilt as a compromise between Knobelsdorff's original designs and the needs of modern opera productions, i. e. side stage wings and a fly tower. "Apollosaal" (250 seats) rebuilt freely after Knobelsdorff's designs for the "Parolesaal" of the Sanssouci palace in Potsdam. Auditorium rebuilt freely after Knobelsdorff's designs for the original theatre and various interior decorations in Potsdam. 1400 seats. Re-opened 4 Sep 1955 with Wagner's "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg".

In the mid-1990s renamed "Staatsoper Unter den Linden". Used for performances of the resident state opera and ballet companies.

Notable world premieres:

  • Carl Heinrich Graun: Cleopatra e Cesare (7 Dec 1742)
  • Carl Heinrich Graun: Artaserse (2 Dec 1743)
  • Carl Heinrich Graun: Demofoonte, Re di Tracia (17 Jan 1746)
  • Carl Heinrich Graun: Montezuma (6 Jan 1755)
  • Johann Friedrich Reichardt: Die Geisterinsel (6 July 1798)
  • Johann Friedrich Reichardt: Lieb und Treue (31 Mar 1800)
  • Johann Friedrich Reichardt: Jery und Bäteli (30 Mar 1801)
  • Gasparo Spontini: Alcidor (23 May 1825)
  • Gasparo Spontini: Agnese di Hohenstaufen (12 June 1829)
  • Heinrich Marschner: Hans Heiling (24 May 1833)
  • Giacomo Meyerbeer: Das Feldlager in Schlesien (7 Dec 1844)
  • Otto Nicolai: Die lustigen Weiber von Windsor (9 Mar 1849)
  • Wilhelm Kienzl: Der Evangelimann (4 May 1895)
  • Albert Lortzing: Regina (with altered libretto, 21 Mar 1899)
  • Ethel Smyth: Der Wald (9 Apr 1902)
  • Ruggiero Leoncavallo: Der Roland von Berin (13 Dec 1904)
  • Franz Schmidt: Fredigundis (19 Dec 1922)
  • Ernst Krenek: Die Zwingburg (21 Oct 1924)
  • Alban Berg: Wozzeck (14 Dec 1925)
  • Franz Schreker: Der singende Teufel (10 Dec 1928)
  • Darius Milhaud: Christophe Colomb (5 May 1930)
  • Hans Pfitzner: Das Herz (12 Nov 1931)
  • Eduard Künneke: Die große Sünderin (31 Dec 1935)
  • Mark Lothar: Schneider Wibbel (12 May 1938)
  • Werner Egk: Peer Gynt (24 Nov 1938)
  • Rudolf Wagner-Régeny: Die Bürger von Calais (28 Jan 1939)
  • Paul Dessau: Das Verhör des Lukullus (17 Mar 1951)
  • Paul Dessau: Puntila (15 Nov 1966)
  • Paul Dessau: Lanzelot (19 Dec 1969)
  • Paul Dessau: Einstein (16 Feb 1974)
  • Friedrich Goldmann: R. Hot bzw. Die Hitze (at Apollosaal, 27 Feb 1977)
  • Siegfried Matthus: Graf Mirabeau (14 July 1989)

Special thanks to

Here directed Giacomo Meyerbeer, Richard Strauss and Herbert von Karajan.
Enrico Caruso sang here.