State Theater on Gärtnerplatz

Besides the Bavarian State Opera, Munich also has a second full-scale opera house called the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz. They do all their operas in German (or Bavarian!), not in the original languages, and also put on the occasional operetta or musical. Gärtnerplatz is one of the few opera houses which still has an all-German-language policy, like the Komische Oper in Berlin and the Volksoper in Vienna.

Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz

The theater at Gärtnerplatz was founded in 1865. The building suffered relatively little damage during the Second World War and was re-opened in 1948. It was closed for eleven months in 1999 while a completely new system of stage machinery was installed. In May 2012 it was closed again for five and a half years for a complete overhaul, after which it reopened in October 2017.

Seating in the Gärtnerplatz Theater

There are seats for 823 spectators and standing room for 70 more.

Looking down from the top balcony

I have seen two operas here so far. The first was Jules Massenet’s Manon in German translation, and the second was for Rossini’s Barber of Seville, as staged by one of my favorite German stage directors, Claus Guth, who by the way was born in Frankfurt and has staged several operas at the Frankfurt Opera.

Intermission in the Gärtnerplatz Theater

His idea for The Barber of Seville was to dress all the characters up as insects for the first act, and have them move and behave like insects, which fits remarkably well with Rossini’s music. Figaro was a fly, Bartolo a spider, Almaviva a bee and Rosina a butterfly. In the second act they were dressed as people, but went on with their mating rituals which are not that much different between people and insects. OK, I’m admittedly a huge Claus Guth fan, but I found this once again a brilliant production.

Stage entrance

The Gärtnerplatz Theater as seen from the Frauenkirche

In this view from the top of one of the towers of the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), the large white building in the middle is the State Theater on Gärtnerplatz.

My photos in this post are from 2004 and 2006. I revised the text in 2018.

See also: Sixty opera houses in Germany.

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