The Semperoper Dresden: Yesterday and Today
The history of opera in Dresden goes back to the opening of the city’s first opera house in 1667. Under the baton of Hofkapellmeister Johann Adolph Hasse, Dresden rose to prominence as a lively centre of European opera.
When the Royal Saxon Theatre opened its doors in 1817, audiences could enjoy Italian and (somewhat later) German opera in addition to drama. Carl Maria von Weber headed the so-called German Department. »Rienzi«, »The Flying Dutchman« and »Tannhäuser« all premiered here after Richard Wagner’s appointment as Hofkapellmeister in 1843. Ernst von Schuch, who was Generalmusikdirektor from 1889 to 1914, conducted over 40 world premieres, including Richard Strauss’s »Salome«, »Elektra« and »Der Rosenkavalier«. Five more of the composer’s operas were premiered in Dresden up to the year 1938. Under Schuch’s successor, Fritz Busch, the repertoire in Dresden was expanded to include modernist works, such as the world premieres of pieces by Weill and Hindemith.
The Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the most world’s most prestigious orchestras, was founded in 1548. Its principal conductors and music directors have included Karl Böhm, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Bernard Haitink and Fabio Luisi. Christian Thielemann has been principal conductor of the Staatskapelle since 2012.
Aaron S. Watkin has been director of Semperoper Ballett since 2006. He has promoted a diverse repertoire ranging from traditional narrative ballets to contemporary dance, setting international standards with a select group of brilliant soloists.
After Gottfried Semper’s first theatre from 1841 burned down in 1869, the opera was opened in its present design in 1878. When this building was destroyed by the air raids of 1945, Saxon State Opera became “homeless” until the reconstructed Semperoper was officially opened in 1985.
Wolfgang Rothe has been commercial director of the Semperoper Dresden since 2005, and since January 2013 has also been in charge of Saxon State Theatres, an institution created out of the former State Opera and State Theatre. From 2012 to 2018 Wolfgang Rothe was also acting managing director of the Semperoper.
Since the 2018/19 season, Peter Theiler from Switzerland has taken over the reins as managing director of the Semperoper.