Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt

Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt
Frankfurt Städtische Bühnen.20140423.jpg
Oper Frankfurt (right) and Schauspiel in 2014
Bernd Loebe
Building at night (2006)
The building from above

Opern- und Schauspielhaus Frankfurt (Opera and Play House) 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. Its orchestra is the Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester.The present opera- and playhouse was built after World War II, because the historical building was destroyed. The former house was reconstructed as the Alte Oper and 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.

1945 - 1970s

The opera house was damaged in an air raid in January 1944, and then almost completely destroyed in March. After the war money was tight.[2] A new house for opera and play was built, completed in 1962.

The Gielen Era

From 1978 to 1988 Frankfurt Opera was led by Michael Gielen.[3] This decade became known as the "Gielen Era",[4] 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 again, including Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten.[4]

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 (de). Weigle's new productions there have included Strauss' Die 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.[5] He performed the four parts of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, staged by Vera Nemirova, finishing with Götterdämmerung in 2012.[6] The complete cycle was performed twice in 2012.[7]

In 2017, Debussy's cantata La Damoiselle élue and Honegger's dramatic oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher were combined, staged by Àlex Ollé, conducted by Marc Soustrot, and co-produced with the Teatro Real Madrid.[8]