Essential Architecture-  Frankfort on the Main (Frankfurt am Main)

Alte Oper


Berlin architect Richard Lucae


Frankfurt am Main, Hessen, Germany








Opera Theatre
The Alte Oper (Old Opera) is a major concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. The building was inaugurated in 1880. Many important works have been premiered at the Alte Oper, including Carl Orff's Carmina Burana in 1937.

The building was inaugurated on October 20, 1880 and was designed by Berlin architect Richard Lucae and financed by the citizens of Frankfurt. Among the invited guests was Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany, who, impressed, stated: Das könnte ich mir in Berlin nicht erlauben. (I wouldn't dare build this in Berlin.)

The citizens of Frankfurt, who had to finance the structure (initially projected at a cost of two million marks), were rather skeptical in the beginning. Alluding to the inscription on the frieze

"Dem Wahren, Schönen, Guten", ("To the true, the beautiful, the good")
Frankfurt poet Adolf Stoltze rhymed in his best Hessian dialect:

Dem Wahre, Schoene, Gute, die Berjerschaft muß blute. (To the true, the beautiful, the good, and the citizenry has to give its blood.)

The Alte Oper was almost completely destroyed by World War II bombing in 1944 and the city magistrate planned to build a modern office building in place of the ruin. The Hessian Minister of Economy at the time, Rudi Arndt, earned his nickname "Dynamit-Rudi" ("Dynamite" Rudi) when he proposed to simply blow up "Germany's most beautiful ruin" by using "a little dynamite". Later, Arndt denied having meant this seriously.[citation needed]

A citizen's initiative campaigned for reconstruction funds after 1953 and collected 15 million DM. Ultimately costing about 160 million DM, the opera house was reopened on August 28, 1981 to the sounds of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem. Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 8, "Symphony of a Thousand" was also performed. A live recording of that portion, conducted by Michael Gielen, is available on CD.

Today, the Alte Oper consists of:

The Grosse Saal (Large Hall) which has seating for an audience of 2,500.
The Mozart-Saal with 700 seats.
Smaller halls used for conventions.
Because the new Frankfurt Opera House had already been built in 1951, the rebuilt Alte Oper was designed for use as a concert hall from the beginning of its reconstruction. Today, it regularly hosts concerts and plays.