Hamburg State Opera

Last updated
Hamburgische Staatsoper
Hamburg State Opera
Hamburg Staatsoper aussen nachts 1.jpg
The Opera's front façade on Dammtorstraße in 2010
Former names Hamburgische Oper
Hamburgisches Stadt-Theater
Location Große Theaterstraße 25,
20354 Hamburg, Germany
Coordinates 53°33′24″N9°59′20″E / 53.55667°N 9.98889°E / 53.55667; 9.98889 Coordinates: 53°33′24″N9°59′20″E / 53.55667°N 9.98889°E / 53.55667; 9.98889
Public transit U 2 Gänsemarkt (50 m)
U 1 Stephansplatz (100 m)
Type opera house
Capacity 1,690
Built 1678
Opened 2 January 1678 (1678-01-02)
Renovated 2002–05
Rebuilt 1826–27
Architect Girolamo Sartorio (1678 building)
Carl Ludwig Wimmel (1827 building)
Gerhard Weber (1955 building)

The Hamburg State Opera (in German: Hamburgische Staatsoper) is a Germany opera company based in Hamburg. Its theatre is located near the square of Gänsemarkt. Since 2015, the current Intendant of the company is Georges Delnon, and the current Generalmusikdirektor of the company is Kent Nagano.

Opera artform combining sung text and musical score in a theatrical setting

Opera is a form of theatre in which music has a leading role and the parts are taken by singers, but is distinct from musical theater. Such a "work" is typically a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and incorporates a number of the performing arts, such as acting, scenery, costume, and sometimes dance or ballet. The performance is typically given in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble, which since the early 19th century has been led by a conductor.

Gänsemarkt square in Hamburg

Gänsemarkt is a public square in Hamburg, Germany, located in the Neustadt quarter. The triangular urban square is accessible by streets of Jungfernstieg from the east, Dammtorstraße and Valentinskamp in the north west and ABC-Straße in the south.

Georges Delnon Swiss theatre director

Georges Delnon is a Swiss theatre director, artistic director and professor. Since 2006 he is the artistic director of the Theater Basel and he will take over the management of the Hamburg State Opera in 2015.



Opera in Hamburg dates to 2 January 1678 when the Oper am Gänsemarkt was inaugurated with a performance of a biblical Singspiel by Johann Theile. It was not a court theatre but the first public opera house in Germany established by the art-loving citizens of Hamburg, a prosperous member of the Hanseatic League.

The year 1678 in music involved some significant events.

Oper am Gänsemarkt

The Oper am Gänsemarkt was a theatre in Hamburg, Germany, built in 1678 after plans of Girolamo Sartorio at the Gänsemarkt square. It was the first public opera house to be established in Germany: not a court opera, as in many other towns. Everybody could buy a ticket, like in Venice. Most works were in the German language or translated librettos.

Hanseatic League Confederation in Northern Europe

The Hanseatic League was a commercial and defensive confederation of merchant guilds and market towns in Northwestern and Central Europe. Growing from a few North German towns in the late 1100s, the league came to dominate Baltic maritime trade for three centuries along the coasts of Northern Europe. Hansa territories stretched from the Baltic to the North Sea and inland during the Late Middle Ages, and diminished slowly after 1450.

The Hamburg Bürgeroper resisted the dominance of the Italianate style and rapidly became the leading musical center of the German Baroque. In 1703, George Friedrich Handel was engaged as violinist and harpsichordist and performances of his operas were not long in appearing. In 1705, Hamburg gave the world première of his opera Nero .

Handels lost Hamburg operas opera

In 1703, the 18-year-old composer George Frideric Handel took up residence in Hamburg, Germany, where he remained until 1706. During this period he composed four operas, only the first of which, Almira, has survived more or less intact. Of the other three, the music for Nero is lost, while only short orchestral excerpts from Florindo and Daphne survive.

In 1721, Georg Philipp Telemann, a central figure of the German Baroque, joined the Hamburg Opera, and in subsequent years Christoph Willibald Gluck, Johann Adolph Hasse and various Italian companies were among the guests.

Georg Philipp Telemann German Baroque composer

Georg Philipp Telemann was a German Baroque composer and multi-instrumentalist. Almost completely self-taught in music, he became a composer against his family's wishes. After studying in Magdeburg, Zellerfeld, and Hildesheim, Telemann entered the University of Leipzig to study law, but eventually settled on a career in music. He held important positions in Leipzig, Sorau, Eisenach, and Frankfurt before settling in Hamburg in 1721, where he became musical director of that city's five main churches. While Telemann's career prospered, his personal life was always troubled: his first wife died only a few months after their marriage, and his second wife had extramarital affairs and accumulated a large gambling debt before leaving him.

Christoph Willibald Gluck composer

Christoph WillibaldGluck was a composer of Italian and French opera in the early classical period. Born in the Upper Palatinate and raised in Bohemia, both part of the Holy Roman Empire, he gained prominence at the Habsburg court at Vienna. There he brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices for which many intellectuals had been campaigning. With a series of radical new works in the 1760s, among them Orfeo ed Euridice and Alceste, he broke the stranglehold that Metastasian opera seria had enjoyed for much of the century. Gluck introduced more drama by using simpler recitative and cutting the usually long da capo aria. His later operas have half the length of a typical baroque opera.

Johann Adolph Hasse German composer, singer and teacher

Johann Adolph Hasse was an 18th-century German composer, singer and teacher of music. Immensely popular in his time, Hasse was best known for his prolific operatic output, though he also composed a considerable quantity of sacred music. Married to soprano Faustina Bordoni and a great friend of librettist Pietro Metastasio, whose libretti he frequently set, Hasse was a pivotal figure in the development of opera seria and 18th-century music.

The Stadt-Theater, built in 1827 Stadttheater Hamburg 1827.jpg
The Stadt-Theater, built in 1827
The same building, redecorated in 1890, destroyed in 1943 Hamburg Stadttheater um 1890.jpg
The same building, redecorated in 1890, destroyed in 1943

To replace the aging wooden structure, the first stone was laid on 18 May 1826 for the Stadt-Theater on the present-day site of the Hamburg State Opera. The new theater, with seating for 2,800 guest, was inaugurated less than a year later with Beethoven's incidental music to Egmont .

Ludwig van Beethoven German classical and romantic composer

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in classical music, he remains one of the most recognised and influential of all composers. His best-known compositions include 9 symphonies; 5 piano concertos; 1 violin concerto; 32 piano sonatas; 16 string quartets; a mass, the Missa solemnis; and an opera, Fidelio. His career as a composer is conventionally divided into early, middle, and late periods; the "early" period is typically seen to last until 1802, the "middle" period from 1802 to 1812, and the "late" period from 1812 to his death in 1827.

Egmont is a play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which he completed in 1788. Its dramaturgical structure, like that of his earlier 'Storm and Stress' play Götz von Berlichingen (1773), is heavily influenced by Shakespearean tragedy. In contrast to the earlier work, the portrait in Egmont of the downfall of a man who trusts in the goodness of those around him appears to mark a shift away from 'Storm and Stress' values.

In 1873, both the exterior and interior of the structure were renovated in the reigning "Gründerzeit" style of the time, and again in 1891, when electric lighting was introduced.


Gründerzeit was the economic phase in 19th-century Germany and Austria before the great stock market crash of 1873. At this time in Central Europe the age of industrialisation was taking place, whose beginnings were found in the 1840s. This period is not precisely dated, but in Austria the March Revolution of 1848 is generally accepted as the beginning of economic changes, in contrast to political reforms. In Germany, as a consequence of the large influx of capital resulting from French war reparations from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, and the subsequent unification of Germany, there followed an economic boom, giving rise to the description of these years as the "founders' years".

Under the direction of Bernhard Pollini, the house mounted its first complete Ring Cycle in 1879. In 1883, the year of Wagner's death, a cycle comprising nine of his operas commenced. The musical directors Hans von Bülow (from 1887 to 1890) and Gustav Mahler (from 1891 to 1897) also contributed to the fame of the opera house.

In the beginning of the 20th century, opera was an important part of the theatre's repertoire; among the 321 performances during the 1907–08 season, 282 were performances of opera. The Stadt-Theater performed not only established repertoire but also new works, such as Paul Hindemith's Sancta Susanna , Igor Stravinsky's The Soldier's Tale , Ernst Krenek's Jonny spielt auf , and Leoš Janáček's Jenůfa . Ferruccio Busoni's Die Brautwahl (1912) and Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Die tote Stadt (1920) both had their world premieres in Hamburg. In the 1930s, after Hitler came to power, the opera house was renamed Hamburgische Staatsoper.

On the night of 2 August 1943, both the auditorium and its neighbouring buildings were destroyed during air raids by fire-bombing; a low-flying airplane dropped several petrol and phosphorus containers on to the middle of the roof of the auditorium, turning it into a conflagration.

Current interior Hamburg Staatsoper Zuschauerraum 03.jpg
Current interior

The current Staatsoper opened on 15 October 1955 with Mozart's Die Zauberflöte . Hamburg continued to devote itself to new works, such as Hans Werner Henze's The Prince of Homburg (1960), Stravinsky's The Flood (1963), Gian Carlo Menotti's Help, Help, the Globolinks! (1968), and Mauricio Kagel's Staatstheater (1971).

In 1967, under the direction of Joachim Hess, the Hamburg State Opera became the first company to broadcasts its operas in color on television, beginning with Die Hochzeit des Figaro (a German translation of Le Nozze di Figaro ). Ten of these television productions have been released on DVD by ArtHaus Musik as Cult Opera of the 1970s, as well as separately. All of these were performed in German regardless of the original language (six were written in German, one in French, two in English, and one in Italian).

More recently, Hamburg gave the world premières of Wolfgang Rihm's Die Eroberung von Mexico (1992) and Helmut Lachenmann's Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern (1997), for which it received much international acclaim. [1] [2] The company has won the "Opera House of the Year" award by the German magazine Opernwelt in 1997 and in 2005. [3]

Recent General Music Directors (GMD) have included Ingo Metzmacher and Simone Young. Young was the first female GMD in the company's history, serving from 2005 to 2015. [4] Kent Nagano became GMD as of the 2015-2016 season, with an initial contract of 5 seasons. [5] In October 2017, the company announced the extension of Nagano's Hamburg contract through 2025. [6]

General Music Directors (GMD)

See also

Related Research Articles

Bavarian State Opera opera company in Munich, Germany

The Bavarian State Opera is an opera company based in Munich, Germany. Its orchestra is the Bavarian State Orchestra. The company's home base is the National Theatre Munich.

Staatsoper Hannover opera house and company in Hanover, Germany

Staatsoper Hannover is a German opera house and opera company in Hanover. Its season runs from September to June.

Michael Andreas Gielen was an Austrian conductor and composer who promoted contemporary music in opera and concert.

Harry Kupfer is a German opera director and academic. A long-time director at the Komische Oper Berlin, he has worked at major opera houses and at festivals internationally. Trained by Walter Felsenstein, he has worked in the tradition of realistic directing. At the Bayreuth Festival, he staged Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer in 1978, and Der Ring des Nibelungen in 1988. At the Salzburg Festival, he directed the premiere of Penderecki's Die schwarze Maske in 1986, and Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss in 2014.

Simone Young Australian conductor

Simone Margaret Young AM is an Australian conductor. She was born in Sydney, of Irish ancestry on her father's side and Croatian ancestry on her mother's side. Young was educated at the Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in North Sydney. She studied composition, piano and conducting at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

The Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin (DSO) is a German orchestra based in Berlin. The orchestra performs its concerts principally in the Philharmonie Berlin. The orchestra is administratively based at the Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (RBB) Fernsehzentrum in Berlin.

Ruth Berghaus German stage director of opera

Ruth Berghaus was a German choreographer and opera and theatre director.

Ingo Metzmacher is a conductor and Artistic Director of the festival KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen in Hanover.

Angela Denoke is a German opera singer (soprano).

Philharmoniker Hamburg orchestra

The Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg is an internationally renowned symphony orchestra based in Hamburg. As of 2015, Kent Nagano has been General Music Director (Generalmusikdirektor) and chief conductor (Chefdirigent). The Philharmoniker Hamburg also serves as the orchestra of the Hamburg State Opera. The Hamburg Philharmonic is one of three major orchestras in Hamburg, the others being the Hamburger Symphoniker and the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra.

Peter Konwitschny is a German opera and theatre director.

Wolfgang Schöne is a German bass-baritone in opera and concert.

Christoph Genz is a German tenor in opera and concert.

<i>Die Gezeichneten</i> Opera by Franz Schreker

Die Gezeichneten is an opera in three acts by Franz Schreker with a German-language libretto by the composer.

Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke

Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke is an Austrian operatic tenor.

Johannes Martin Kränzle is a German baritone in opera and concert who has made an international career. For years a member of the Frankfurt Opera, he was chosen as Singer of the Year in 2011 after creating the leading role in Wolfgang Rihm's Dionysos at the Salzburg Festival. He made his debut at the Royal Opera House as Don Alfonso in Mozart's Così fan tutte, and at the Bayreuth Festival as Beckmesser in Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg in 2017.

<i>Dionysos</i> (opera) opera fantasy by Wolfgang Rihm

Dionysos is an opera by Wolfgang Rihm based on Friedrich Nietzsche's Dionysian-Dithyrambs. The composer wrote the libretto and subtitled his work: "Opernphantasie nach Texten von Friedrich Nietzsche / Szenen und Dithyramben". It premiered at the Salzburg Festival on 27 July 2010.

Lise Lindstrom

Lise Lindstrom is an American opera singer, born in Sonora, California. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 in Puccini's Turandot.

Renate Behle Austrian mezzo-soprano and soprano, and voice teacher

Renate Behle is an Austrian operatic mezzo-soprano and soprano who made an international career, based in Germany. She was professor of voice at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg from 2000 to 2010.

Julia Kleiter German singer and opera singer

Julia Kleiter is a German operatic soprano and a concert singer. After her debut as Mozart's Pamina at the Opéra Bastille in Paris, she has appeared at major international opera houses, especially the Zurich Opera, and festivals, including the Salzburg Festival. She is also active as a concert singer, and has recorded Bach with Nikolaus Harnoncourt, among others.


  1. Herbort, Heinz Josef (14 February 1992). "Dieser Schrei ist ein Traum" [This Scream is a Dream]. Die Zeit (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  2. Umbach, Klaus (27 January 1997). "Qualm vom Quälgeist" [Smoke from a tormenting spirit]. Der Spiegel (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  3. "Hamburg ist "Opernhaus des Jahres", neues Projekt von Metzmacher/Konwitschny" [Hamburg is "Opera House of the Year", new project by Metzmacher / Konwitschny]. Hamburg: Die Welt. Deutsche Presse-Agentur. 23 September 2005. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  4. Banuscher, Doris (20 February 2005). "Hello, Simone Young". Die Welt (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 6 September 2017.
  5. Smith, Charlotte (26 September 2012). "Kent Nagano appointed music director of Hamburg State Opera from 2015". Gramophone . Retrieved 2014-06-09.
  6. "Kent Nagano verlängert – und Kühne gibt Millionen". Hamburger Abendblatt. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2018-01-07.