Prince Regent Theater in Munich

Bavaria at the turn of the 20th century was a kingdom within an empire. The king, Otto I, was insane, so he was kept locked up in a castle behind high walls while the kingdom was run by his uncle, Prince Regent Luitpold (1824-1912).

During the twenty-six years of his regency, Luitpold managed to become quite popular in Bavaria. This was partly because the difficult decisions of governing were increasingly made by the emperor in Berlin, so Luitpold was free to do popular things like beautifying Munich and supporting the arts.

(All you loyal readers of my posts about Nancy, France, might recall that the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Leszczynski, had enjoyed a similar kind of popularity 150 years earlier, for similar reasons.)

Seating in the Prinzregententheater

When this theater was built in Munich from 1900 to 1901, it was first called the Prinz-Regenten-Theater with two hyphens, so even foreigners could recognize that it was a theater named after the Prince Regent. Later the hyphens were omitted, so the theater was called the Prinzregententheater — one of those typical German names with twenty letters including thirteen consonants and no indication, for the uninitiated, of how it could be divided up into its component parts.

(All you loyal readers of my Künzelsau post might recall that early versions of hyphenation and spelling programs for personal computers in the 1980s and 90s had huge problems deciding where to divide the syllables in some of these German words. It wasn’t easy to teach early computers that the word Prinzregententheater had nothing to do with a tent heater or a tenth eater. To this day, MS-Word will sometimes get it wrong if you forget to change the setting from English to German.)

The Prinzregententheater was modeled (loosely) after the Richard Wagner Festival Theater in Bayreuth. It has been used for many different purposes over the years, for instance as the main venue for spoken drama by the Bavarian State Theater.

For nineteen years, from 1944 to 1963, the Prinzregententheater was the home of the Bavarian State Opera, because the more centrally located National Theater had been largely destroyed by bombings. After the National Theater was re-opened in 1963, the Prinzregententheater was condemned as unsafe, and remained closed for twenty-five years until it finally reopened with a provisional stage in 1988. It wasn’t until 1996 that the full stage was also re-built.

This theater is noted for its Jugendstil / Art Nouveau interior decoration, and for the fact that you can see and hear perfectly from every seat in the house.

The stage as arranged for a choral concert

In 2006, I attended a choral concert here by the Chorus of the Bavarian Radio, entitled “Peace on Earth”, with choral works by Thomas Jennefelt (“Warning to the rich”), Dmitrij Schostakowitsch, Hans Werner Henze, Johannes Brahms and Arnold Schönberg, and with impressive recitations by the actor Georg Blüml.

Introductory talk in the Garden Room

An hour before the concert there was a highly informative introduction in the Garden Room, including an interview with Georg Blüml, who besides being an actor is also a stage director, and the founder and director of a small alternative opera company in the Pasinger Fabrik in Munich.

Prinzregententheater from the outside

My photos in this post are from 2006. I revised the text in 2021.

See more posts on Munich, Germany.
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9 thoughts on “Prince Regent Theater in Munich”

  1. I believe I passed by the Prince Regent Theater during my visit to Munich over five years ago, but it’s a shame that I didn’t go inside to have a look: theater interiors dazzle me with their splendor, and I’ll have to return to Munich to check this place out!

    1. Thanks for the link. I don’t think I’ll pay to get the whole article, but I gather from the first page that the problem was with the spoken word, not with opera. Wikipedia says the problem was with voices reflecting towards the back half of the hall, and that Zenneck fixed this by hanging up textiles on the walls in strategic places.

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