Semperoper Dresden


by Alice Lechner
April 14, 2023


In the Anniversary issue, the Theaters Around the World rubric takes us to Germany’s Saxon capital, Dresden.

The city was first mentioned in historical records in 1206, and it quickly became an important center of trade and commerce. In the 16th century, Dresden became the capital of the Electorate of Saxony, a powerful state in the Holy Roman Empire. During this time, the city experienced a period of great cultural and artistic development, with many magnificent buildings and works of art being built and created here. In the 18th century, Dresden became a major cultural center of Europe, with renowned artists, musicians, and writers making the city their home. This period is known as the “Golden Age” of Dresden, and it saw the construction of many of the city’s famous landmarks, including the Zwinger Palace, the Frauenkirche, and the Semperoper.

The Semperoper is one of the most famous and important opera houses in the world. It has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century. The original Semperoper was built in 1841-1842 by Gottfried Semper. It quickly became one of the most important cultural institutions in Europe, attracting some of the greatest musicians and performers of the time.

Before the opening of Gottfried Semper’s first court theater

The Klengelsche opera house (1667), also known as the Prince Elector Opera House on the Taschneberg opens with a performance of Giovanni Andrea Moneglia’s Il Teseo. This building was designed by Chief Saxon Architect Wolf Caspar von Klengel. This opera house is the earliest precursor to the Semperoper. Dresden Opera was the third opera house to be built in the German-speaking nations, after Vienna (1651) and Münich (1657).

Under King Augustus the Strong, the Great Opera House at the Zwinger was opened. The Great Opera House was designed by Italian master builders Alessandro and Girolamo Mauro, together with Matthäus Pöppelmann and Balthasar Permoser. The opera house opened with a performance of Antonio Lotti’s Giove in Argo. This was the biggest theatre in Germany at the time but also one of the largest in Europe. It became the center of Baroque opera, closely linked to Johann Adolf Hasse.

In 1755 Pietro Moretti builds another theater near the Great Opera House: the Moretti Theatre, known as the Small Court Theatre. In the mid-1830s, the theatre is demolished to make way for a new building – Gottfried Semper’s first Royal Court Theatre.

First opera house by Gottfried Semper

Gottfried Semper’s opera was built between 1838 and 1841 and opens on 12th April with a performance of Carla Maria von Weber’s Jubilee Overture and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Torquato Tasso. Moreover, Richard Wagner premiered his operas Rienzi, The Flying Dutchman and Tannhäuser in Dresden.

In 1869 the building burns to the ground. Only a few weeks later, an erected interim theatre opens – Bretterbude. It opens with a performance of Weber’s Jubilee Overture and Goethe’s Iphigenie auf Tauris. In 1873, another theatre opens in Dresden, the Albert Theatre, named after the Saxon crown prince.

Second opera house by Gottfried Semper

The second Royal Court Theatre was constructed between 1871 and 1878. It opens on 2nd February with (once again) Weber’s Jubilee Overture and Goethe’s Iphigenie auf Tauris. Richard Strauss premiered his operas Feuersnot, Salome, Elektra and Der Rosenkavalier under Generalmusikdirektor Ernst von Schuch. In 1919 the Royal Court Theatre becomes the Saxon State Theatre.

After von Schuch, Fritz Busch becomes Generalmusikdirektor and opera director. He made his mark not only as an outstanding interpreter of the music of Strauss, Verdi and Puccini, but also through his great interpretations of Mozart, Wagner, Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. Busch was driven out by the National Socialists.

The next Generalmusikdirektor and opera director was Karl Böhm. He secures the historical continuity and international artistic reputation of the Semperoper.

In 1944, the Semperoper closes its doors. During World War II, the Semper Opera House was heavily damaged by Allied bombing, and it took many years to restore the building to its former glory. The reconstruction was finally completed in 1985, and the opera house reopened with a performance of Carla Maria von Weber’s opera Der Freischütz.

The Building

The exterior is an example of Neo-Renaissance architecture, with a grand façade featuring intricate decorations, sculptures, and reliefs. The building is constructed of sandstone and has a symmetrical design, with a central entrance flanked by two towers. The interior of the opera is impressive, with lavish decoration that includes frescoes, sculptures, and ornate details throughout. The main auditorium is designed in a horseshoe shape, with four tiers of seating and a capacity of over 1.800 seats. The most impressive feature of the Semperoper is the large chandelier from the main auditorium. It is made of crystal and bronze and weighs over a ton.

Today, the Semperoper is one of the most important cultural institutions in Germany, attracting some of the greatest opera singers and conductors from around the world.


Sir Colin Davis
Colin Rex Davis was born on September 25th, 1927, in Weybridge, Surrey, England, and was known for his exceptional interpretations of a wide range of classical and contemporary repertoire. His early exposure to music was through the clarinet, which he started playing at a young age. His interest in conducting developed during his time at...
November 2023
Alice Lechner
Teatro Massimo
We continue our Theaters around the World column, and in this issue, we arrive in Sicily, more precisely in Palermo. It is known that Teatro Massimo di Palermo was, for a long time, the third largest opera house in Europe, after Palais Garnier and Wiener Staatsoper. The construction of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily,...
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Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner

Alice Lechner comes from a music-loving family. Her first encounter with the opera universe was at the tender age of six. The grandeur of the stage productions and costumes, the backstage chatter, and last, but definitely not least, the music left her in awe, beginning with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The overall feeling that opera awakens in anyone who gets a glimpse into this part of artistic eternity, that each and every day passes the test of time, was what drew her to stay and be a part of this world. The Opera House of Brașov became her second home, and the people who worked there were her second family.

Since then, Alice has devoted her spare time to maximising her musical knowledge through instrumental studies, studying both piano and violin for a short time. In the following years, her number one passion stepped out of the limelight and graciously gave way to Law Studies.
Since 2018 she has been studying Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Her passion for opera, even if it is no longer her top professional priority in terms of career, it has most definitely become her priority during her free time. Wanting to experience the best of both worlds and extend her musical horizons, she regularly attends opera performances throughout Romania and abroad.
With OPERA Charm Magazine, Alice aims to nurture her creative side to help it flourish and bloom and to discover, alongside the magazine’s readers, the fascinatingly complex world of opera.

Currently, she is an LL.M. in Business Law at “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University in Iași.

Oana Zamfir

Oana Zamfir is a second year MA student at the “George Enescu” National University of Arts, at the Department of Musicology.

She studied violin for 12 years at the “Stefan Luchian” High School of Art in Botosani, later focusing on the theoretical aspects of music. In 2019 she completed her bachelor studies in Musicology as a student of the National Academy of Music “Gheorghe Dima” in Cluj-Napoca. Her research during 2018-2019 brought to the forefront elements of the archaic ritual within works of composers who activated during the communist period, giving her the opportunity to start a research internship at the “Carl von Ossietzky” University in Germany. In this context, she recorded conversations with members of the Sophie Drinker Institute in Bremen, and had access to documents directly from the Myriam Marbé archive.

Since 2019 she has been a teacher of Music Education and Theoretical Music Studies, making full use of interactive methods in the musical training of students and working, at the same time, with the children’s choir founded in the first year of her activity.

Her interests include pursuing a degree in interior design in 2020.

Alexandru Suciu

Alexandru Suciu inherited his passion for art growing up in a family of several generations of musicians. He began his musical studies at the “Augustin Bena” School of Music in Cluj, where he studied piano and guitar. Even though his main study direction was philological, his passion for music prevailed. He began his academical journey at the Faculty of Letters of the “Babeș-Bolyai” University, studying Comparative literature and English. He continued by studying Opera Singing at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy. He also graduated the Musical Education section, followed by Artistic Directing at the Musical Performing Arts department.

His multidisciplinary education opened the doors towards research, which is seen both through his participation in national and international conferences and symposia, such as the Salzburg Easter School PhD-forum, organized by the Salzburg Universität or the Silesian Meeting of Young Scholars, organized by the Institute of English at the University of Silesia, as well as the collaboration with Opera Charm Magazine.

During his student years, he won several prizes, including the Grand Prize at the “Paul Constantinescu” National Musical Interpretation Competition, the Romanian Composers and Musicologists’ Union Prize at the same competition, the First Prize and the Schubert Prize at the “Ada Ulubeanu” Competition.

He further developed his artistic skills by specializing in courses and masterclasses held by personalities such as Vittorio Terranova, Giuseppe Sabbatini, Marian Pop, Ines Salazar, Riccardo Zanellato, Paolo Bosisio, Valentina Farcaș and Manuel Lange in contexts such as the Internationale Sommerakademie für Operngesang Deutschlandsberg, Corso Internazionale di Canto Lirico I.M.C. Licata or the Europäische Akademie für Musik und darstellende Kunst Montepulciano. Besides his activity on-stage, he currently teaches Opera Singing Didactics, and Pedagogical Practice within the Department for Teacher Education and Training at the “Gheorghe Dima” National Music Academy.

Cristina Fieraru

Cristina is a 24 year-old Romanian soprano & a student at the National University of Music Bucharest, where she pursues the MA program in Vocal Performance.

She made her debut in Pamina from “Die Zauberflöte” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at only 19 years old at the Bucharest National Opera House, as a member of the Ludovic Spiess Experimental Opera Studio. Over the years she made her debut in roles such as Contessa d’Almaviva (Le nozze di Figaro), Mimì & Musetta (La Bohème), Alice Ford (Falstaff), Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte) in her university’s opera productions.
Her passion and experience extends in the field of choral music, too.

She has been part of our dream team since the fall of 2021. For a good period of time she took care of OPERA Charm’s social media and took you on the monthly journey through the history of opera through our Legends rubric – and a few times through the Theaters around the World rubric.

Her little soul rubric – from 2021 to present – is definitely the Conductors of the Future, where, every month, she gives you the chance to meet a young star of the world of conducting and, of course, to find out what’s the most charming feature of opera in these artists’ views.


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