Up to now I have seen performances in seventy-one German opera houses, and I hope to get around to the other twelve in the next few years, before their funding dries up. (My photos at the top of this page show the theaters in Aachen, Altenburg, Annaberg and Augsburg.)
By my count, Germany currently has seventy-three functioning full-time professional opera companies (not counting summer festivals and the like), performing in eighty-three main-stage opera houses (not counting studio theaters and alternative venues like the Bockenheimer Depot in Frankfurt). Of course any such listing depends on what you count as what, and I’m not sure I’ve been completely consistent with my criteria, but however you cut it, the fact remains that Germany has more opera houses, companies and performances than any other country in the world.
These are the seventy-one German opera houses that I have been to so far:
- Aachen: saw Mozart’s opera Lucio Silla, which he composed in Milan when he was 16.
- Altenburg: saw the opera Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. I am listing Altenburg separately since I am counting opera houses, not companies; otherwise I would have to list it together with Gera.
- Annaberg-Buchholz: saw Martha by Friedrich von Flotow.
- Augsburg: Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner.
- Baden-Baden: Adriana Lecouvreur by Francesco Cilea.
- Berlin, Deutsche Oper: Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, and a couple others.
- Berlin, Komische Oper: Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi (but in German), and several others.
- Berlin, Staatsoper Unter den Linden: Rinaldo by Georg Friedrich Händel. Also Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, and quite a few others.
- Bielefeld: Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, as staged by Andrea Schwalbach.
- Bonn: Cardillac by Paul Hindemith, and several others.
- Braunschweig: Boris Godunov by Modest Mussorgsky; Don Carlo and La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Bremen: Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Carmen by Georges Bizet.
- Bremerhaven: La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini.
- Chemnitz: Rinaldo by Georg Friedrich Händel.
- Coburg: Carmen by Georges Bizet.
- Cologne (Köln): Der König Kandaules by Alexander Zemlinsky, and several others.
- Darmstadt: Orlando by Antonio Vivaldi, and many others.
- Dessau: Der Vogelhändler by Carl Zeller and Don Karlos (spelled with a K because they sang it in German) by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Detmold: Martha by Friedrich von Flotow, at the premieres of two different productions, sixteen years apart.
- Dortmund: Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) by Richard Wagner and L’Eligabalo by Francesco Cavalli.
- Dresden: Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Düsseldorf: Carmen by Georges Bizet, and a few others.
- Eisenach: Die Zaubergeige (The Magic Violin) by Werner Egk (1901-1983).
- Erfurt: Jenufa, by Leos Janacek, and an operetta called Die Dollarprinzessin (The Dollar Princess) by Leo Fall.
- Essen: Aida by Giuseppe Verdi and The Italian Girl in Algiers by Gioacchino Rossini.
- Frankfurt am Main: I’ve seen LOTS of operas here in Frankfurt am Main (I live here, after all), so I’ll just mention three as examples: L’Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, The Emperor of Atlantis by Viktor Ullmann and The Journey to Reims by Gioacchino Rossini.
- Freiberg (Sachsen): Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Freiburg im Breisgau: Werther by Jules Massenet.
- Gelsenkirchen: Turandot by Giacomo Puccini and the first version of Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Gera: Viva la mamma by Gaetano Donizetti.
- Gießen: L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti.
- Hagen: Die tote Stadt (The Dead City) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
- Halle: L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti.
- Hamburg: Der lächerliche Prinz Jodelet by Reinhard Keiser (1674-1739), and several others.
- Hannover: The Bartered Bride by Friedrich Smetana, and a few others.
- Heidelberg: Salome by Richard Strauss and L’elisir d’amore by Gaetano Donizetti.
- Hildesheim: Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Hof: Alcina by Georg Friedrich Händel.
- Kaiserslautern: Jonny spielt auf by Ernst Krenek and Der Koenig Kandaules by Alexander Zemlinsky.
- Karlsruhe: Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito and Norma by Vincenzo Bellini.
- Kassel: Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Kiel: L’incoronazione di Poppea by Claudio Monteverdi.
- Koblenz: Ariadne auf Naxos by Richard Strauss, and Die lustigen Niebelungen by Oscar Straus (no relation). Also Die weiße Rose by Udo Zimmermann.
- Krefeld: Norma by Vincenzo Bellini.
- Leipzig: Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz, and several others.
- Lübeck: Montezuma by Carl Heinrich Graun, to a libretto by King Friedrich II of Prussia.
- Magdeburg: Wiener Blut by Johann Strauss.
- Mainz: Lady Macbeth of Mzensk by Dimitrij Schostakowitsch, and several others.
- Mannheim: Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and several others.
- Meiningen: Tosca by Giacomo Puccini and Gräfin Mariza by Emmerich Kálmán.
- Mönchengladbach: Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Munich, Bavarian State Opera: I puritani by Vincenzo Bellini (with Edita Gruberova as Elvira). Also La clemenza di Tito by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and many others.
- Munich, State Theater on Gärtnerplatz: Manon by Jules Massenet, and a few others.
- Münster: The Cunning Little Vixen by Leos Janacek.
- Nordhausen: Frida (based on the life of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo) by Robert Xavier Rodriguez, and The Abduction from the Serail by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Christine Graham as Blonde.
- Nürnberg: Iphigenie in Aulis by Christoph Willibald Gluck, and several others.
- Oldenburg: Die lustige Witwe by Franz Lehár.
- Osnabrück: Simplicius Simplicissimus by Karl Amadeus Hartmann.
- Passau: Macbeth by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Pforzheim: The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Regensburg: Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach.
- Rostock: Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach.
- Saarbrücken: Elektra by Richard Strauss.
- Schwerin: Salome by Richard Strauss, with Zehra Yildiz in the title role.
- Stuttgart: numerous operas including Doktor Faust by Ferruccio Busoni, with Hope Briggs as the Duchess of Parma.
- Trier: Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss, Jr.
- Ulm: Aida by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Weimar: Un ballo in maschera (A masked ball) by Giuseppe Verdi.
- Wiesbaden: Maria Stuarda by Gaetano Donizetti, and many others.
- Wuppertal: Die tote Stadt (The dead city) by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
- Würzburg: Werther by Jules Massenet.
5 thoughts on “Seventy-one opera houses in Germany”
That is mind-boggling — the number of opera houses you have been to already!
This is phenomenal experience.
There is something pretty special about a country that has that many opera houses!!
The huge scale of German ensemble-based opera companies helps to give opera a chance of longterm life perhaps. Of course there are other countries with opera ensembles. And not just in Europe. But Germany is unique in having so many ensemble-based spoken-theatre as well as opera companies. And most of them do manage to attract regular and sufficient audiences. Live performance is a different phenomenon from telly and cinema. The performers are doing it for “us” in the auditorium rather than just for a director or a cameraman. Meredith Oakes’s and my son Walter Sutcliffe is Intendant of Oper Halle, and currently the only originally English-speaking boss of a German opera company (I believe). He’s been directing operas on and off for about 20 years now, some years longer than since he left university.But our lack of ensemble-based theatre and opera companies in the British Isles is disastrous of course for the whole tradfition of live performance here. This is something that very UK and Irtish citizens properly appreciate. So Your website is a help in showing the scale of these live performing-arts in Germany. I wonder how much orchestral performing and other kinds of concert-making there are in German halls there are compared with other countries. Music matters to everybody. But Germans seem to take it all more seriously than most. (I worked for The Guardian and London Evening Standard as an opera critic etc) Best wishes to you, Tom Sutcliffe
Hello Tom, thanks for finding my website and leaving such a thoughtful comment. I certainly agree that having a good ensemble is very helpful for any opera or theatre trying to develop a loyal audience. I know from my many years of teaching opera appreciation courses here in Frankfurt that spectators appreciate seeing the ensemble members in different roles, and seeing them develop over the years. It’s such a privilege to watch the progress of singers like Diana Damrau, Željko Lučić, Brenda Rae or Simon Bailey, even though they eventually do leave the ensemble and strike out on their own.
I believe you are right that your son Walter Sutcliffe is currently the only originally English-speaking boss of a German opera company. At least I can’t think of any others. (Lydia Steier is now co-director of the opera in Luzern, but that’s in Switzerland, not Germany.) Of course in the past there were some prominent ones like Peter Jonas in Munich and John Dew in Bielefeld, Dortmund and Darmstadt.