Semper Opera, Dresden

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  • Kakapo2's Profile Photo

    A golden Surprise above the Portal

    by Kakapo2 Written Sep 1, 2008

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    Saxony’s state opera house is a monumental building at the north-western corner of Theaterplatz, impressive by day and magic when illuminated at night. It is not a really big opera house but one of Europe’s most beautiful ones.

    It is named after its architect Gottfried Semper who had already designed the first opera house on this site – that one was inaugurated in 1841, but burnt down in 1869. The new one – and original of what you see as a reconstruction today - was built from 1871 to 1878 in neo-Renaissance style. The reconstruction took until 1985.

    What strikes me most is the portal, as it reminds me more of the interior of a Byzantine church than of an opera house, and especially you would not expect such a open dome on the outside of a building. But everything has a name – it is called Exedra. The paintings in this Exedra – with a lot of gold - depict the Three Graces between Marsya and Apollon.
    The front side to Theaterplatz is crowned by a bronze Panther Quadriga. The sculptures depict Dionysos and Ariadne.

    A lot more sculptures adorn the building, and they are not only figures of the Greek mythology but also important playwrights like Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare and Molière, further figures from plays, like Faust, Mephisto, etc.. Goethe and Schiller sit on architrave blocks beside the entrance.

    The interior is as impressive as the exterior. The special thing about the building is that if you know the layout of the interior you can recognise that it was built around the halls, and not the halls hidden in a shell.

    Capacity of Semperoper is 1323 people.

    Guided tours (1 hour) only in times of no pending shows and rehearsals. You have to check the schedules on the Tour website (Führungen) under “Termine” (dates). No bookings; just show up on the day before the tour. (Bookings only possible for groups.) Information available 2 to 3 months in advance.

    Admission 7 Euro.

    Info phone (0351) 4911 496

    http://www.semperoper-fuehrungen.de

    Info about operas, ballets and other performances on the general Semperoper website.

    Ticket hotline (0351) 4911 705

    Email: bestellung@semperoper.de

    Photo 2 shows more of the building and a dramatic sky above.

    Quadriga and Exedra... Dramatic sky above Semperoper.
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    A Particularly Apt Name for this Opera House

    by Ekaterinburg Updated Mar 17, 2008

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    The night before I visited Dresden I had been at the Deutch Oper in Berlin. The opera we saw was Der Freischutz by Carl Maria von Weber and not one person in the group had heard of either previously. I really enjoyed the performance though and to my delight discovered that Carl Maria von Weber composed the opera while living in Dresden and that Der Freischutz was the last opera performed in the Opera House before its destruction and the first to be performed when it re-opened. Von Weber died in London in 1826 but in 1844 Richard Wagner arranged for his remains to be interred in Dresden. There are many reminders of him throughout Dresden, most notably the Carl Maria von Weber Museum and his burial place at the Inner Catholic Cemetery.

    The Semper Oper has been described as the most beautiful Opera House in the world but I have to say that I would not agree with this description. From the outside I didn't particularly like the shape or style of the building and until I get to attend a performance there the interior will remain an unknown quantity.

    What one has to admire however is the amazing history of Dresden's Staat Oper.

    1841 : completed and named after its architect, Gottfried Semper
    1869: destroyed by fire
    1871-'78: rebuilt by Semper and his son Manfred
    1945: destroyed in the bombing of Dresden
    1977-'85: re-constructed
    2002: severely damaged by floods

    So even if you have absolutely no interest in opera or music and if you are not very impressed by the exterior, do stand in awe at the spirit of survival which this building represents.

    Semper Opera House KIng Johan outside the Semper Oper
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  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo

    Semperoper or Semper Opera House

    by richiecdisc Updated Jan 26, 2008

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    Though an opera house existed on this site as early as 1678 it was not until 1838 that work began on Gottfried Semper’s Renaissance style masterpiece which took three years to complete. He relied much on Roman architecture in his design and it became noted for its premiers of many of Wagner’s works. Fire unfortunately destroyed the building during Semper’s exile but he was awarded its redesign nonetheless. His son oversaw the building until its completion in 1878. Another tragic chapter in its history arrived with its total destruction during WWII bombings. It even more tragically did not reopen again until 1985. One of its more noted features is a statue by Johann Schilling of a panther drawn chariot with Greek gods Dionysus and Ariadne at the helm. The same sculptor did the equestrian statue of the Saxon King John which was added in 1889.

    Tours are available daily but are dependent on shows in the theater itself. They are in German only but you can get a text version in many languages and for only 5 Euros it is a way to see the impressive interior if you do not like or cannot afford opera.

    Semper Operna from Theaterplatz the panther-drawn chariot on our most recent trip
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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    Semper Opera - The Procession of Stars

    by nicolaitan Updated Dec 26, 2007

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    High above the stage and just below the ceiling is a long mural stretching the entire width of the stage and featuring the most famous and charismatic operatic personalities devised by the minds of composers and authors. Each is dressed in the clothing of their time and represents a high point of operatic achievement. Even I, with little knowledge of opera, could identify Falstaff, Iphigenia, and of course Othello. Included are images of the entire painting divided into four sections - if you opera experts can identify any of the others, please let me know. I loved this painting - my lack of knowledge should not preclude you from checking it out.

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    Semper Opera House - The Grand Auditorium

    by nicolaitan Written Dec 25, 2007

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    The centerpiece of the Semper Opera is the magnificent theater. The regal stage is surrounded by extensive orchestra seating and three balconies with royal boxes. During our visit, the famed curtain was covered, but the massive ornate chandelier backed by extensive ceiling paintings and the ornate decor for the balconies and walls were a highlight of the tour. Camera images cannot do this room justice.

    The aura of the auditorium is enhanced by a knowledge of the great composers and their works which have been performed here. Numerous operas by Wagner and Strauss received their debuts in this room and the list of composers and singers who have been featured. The Saxon State Opera Orchestra and Chorus are currently housed here and are world-famous.

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    Semper Opera House - Interior

    by nicolaitan Written Dec 25, 2007

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    A major part of the guided tour is through the staircases and hallways of the opera house. The ceiling and wall paintings feature mythologic scenes in bright eye-catching color set against a luxurious gold and white decor. Large Corinthian-style marble colums line the walls and staircases. Lighting is by both ornate chandeliers and wall-mounted fixtures. Further splashes of color are from velvet-like cloth in a rich red color on benches and scattered on the walls as well.

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    Semper Opera House - History and Exterior

    by nicolaitan Updated Dec 25, 2007

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    The famed Saxon State Opera Dresden known as the Semper Opera House is a post war reconstruction of the building planned by famed architect Gottfried Semper between 1871-8 replacing his earlier work destroyed by fire. This boat shaped Renaissance style building is an outgrowth of Semper's great love of classical and Italian architecture and is considered one of the world's most famous both for its beauty and its acoustics. Performances cost in excess of $100 US and are sold out way in advance. Tours are only in German - join the long line at the right side of the building for the tours beginning at 2:30 PM. An English summary is available free of charge but the interior is so stunning that you may have little time to read it. Most of the tour guides, with the help of the rest of the tour group, will do their best to translate the essentials ( more or less ).

    The building dominates the Theaterplatz - at the entrance look up to see the chariot drawn by four panthers with Dionysius, the Greek god of art, and Ariadne, in some myths his wife or lover (image 4). The main statues on either side are von Goethe and Schiller, the famous writers. The periphery of the roof and the niches contains statues (image 5) of other famed art legends including Moliere, Shakespeare, Sophocles, and Euripides ( but not Eumenides ) as well as ancient Greek and Roman heroes and gods. Some of these statues are pre-WWII originals saved after the bombing which destroyed the building. The cupola over the central entrance, ( image 3 ), features The Three Graces - daughters of Zeus representing joy, charm, and beauty - with Apollo, the son of Zeus and god of poetry and music, and Marsyas, a flute-playing satyr.

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  • el_ruso's Profile Photo

    Opera House

    by el_ruso Written Nov 30, 2006

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    Semper Opera was built in the XIX century and is in harmony with the earlier Palace Square's architectural ensemble. In front there is an equestrian statue of king Johann. It was rebuilt also, and reopened in 1985. Prior to that, operas were played in a pavilion in the City Park.

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  • lina112's Profile Photo

    Opera House

    by lina112 Written Oct 24, 2006

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    The Semperoper is one of the most famous opera house in Germany and in the world. It was first built in 1841, by architect Gottfried Semper, in the Early Renaissance style. It had to be rebuilt after a fire destroyed it in 1869. The citizenry demanded that Gottfried Semper do the reconstruction, even though he was in exile at the time because of his activities in the May Uprising in Dresden in 1849.
    The building is considered to be a prime example of "Dresden-Baroque" architecture. It is situated on the Theater Square in central Dresden on the bank of the Elbe River. On top of the portal there is a Pantherquadriga with a statue of Dionysos. The interior was created by such famous architects of the time as Johannes Schilling. Monuments on the portal depict famous artists such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Molière and Euripides. The building also features work by Ernst Rietschel and Ernst Julius Hähnel.

    Opera Semper es una de las operas mas famosas de Alemania y del mundo entero. Fue primeramente construida en 1841 por el arquitecto Gottfried Semper en estilo renacentista. Fue reconstruido en 1869 después de que fuese pasto de un incendio, la población exigió que fuese Semper quien reconstruyera el teatro, sin embargo el estaba exiliado debido al levantamiento de Mayo en 1849. El edificio es un claro ejemplo de estilo barroco.

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    A night at the opera ...

    by MichaelFalk1969 Updated Sep 13, 2006

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    A magnificent neo-classical opera house from the mid-19th century. Try to book in advance if you intend to go there. Even if you don`t get tickets on short notice, make certain to take a guided tour through this remarkably beautiful building.

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  • Semper Oper

    by sabsi Written Jun 7, 2006

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    The most famous opera of Germany. In my opinion from the outside it's not too exciting but I bet it's much better from the inside when you have tickets for a concert. Good luck when trying to get some! You better start early!

    Semperoper, Dresden Dreaming of classical music ;) Dreaming of more pictures to take...
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  • jglsongs's Profile Photo

    Semperoper - Dresden's opera house

    by jglsongs Updated May 24, 2006

    Don't think Dresden can't compete with Paris, Milan, Vienna or London! The Semperoper is an exquisite baroque opera house that's just as impressive from the inside as it is from the outside. (See something there...even a cheap, SRO ticket. It's worth it.)

    Semperoper, Dresden
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    Tour of the Semper Opera

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 23, 2006

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    Tours of the opera house are offered whenever there is no performance or rehearsal in progress or in preparation on the main stage. The exact dates and times are listed on the opera's website, but on the German language side only.

    When I was there recently they offered tours every half hour from 9.00 to 11.30 in the morning, but none after that because they were getting ready for a performance at 16.00 in the afternoon. Some days it's the other way around, or all day or not at all, depending on the schedule. But when they do run tours they are very flexible about it, and will start a new tour every five or ten minutes if enough people are waiting outside.

    Tickets cost EUR 5.00 (or EUR 3.00 reduced, or EUR 10 for a family) and are sold at the door only, the door being on the side of the building off to the right.

    The tours are in German, but they will be glad to lend you a text in English, French, Japanese, Spanish, Czech, Russian, Italian or Polish so you can follow what is being said.

    Unlike most opera tours in Germany, the tour of the Semper Opera does not take you backstage, simply because there is so much to see in the front end of the house.

    Tour of the Semper Opera House
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    Before the performance at the Semper Opera

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 23, 2006

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    Before the performance you might get to see this famous stage curtain, which was designed in 1875 by a man named Ferdinand Keller from Darmstadt.

    The picture in the middle is by a painter named Franz Tippel. It is called Phantasie mit der Fackel der Begeisterung, which means "Fantasy with the Torch of Enthusiasm."

    Stage with Keller's curtain Before the performance
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    Semper Opera House

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 23, 2006

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    The Semper Opera House is named after Gottfried Semper (1803-1879), the architect who designed it once and built it twice.

    His original opera house was completed in 1841. The composer Richard Wagner was musical director, and three of his operas had their world premieres here.

    In 1869 the building was destroyed by fire, and Semper was asked to come back and rebuild it. The only problem was that he was living in exile, having been condemned by a Dresden court for his part in organizing the short-lived revolution of 1848. But he was pardoned so he could return and rebuild the opera house from 1871 to 1878, which he did, though in fact he delegated most of the day-by-day supervision to his son Manfred Semper this time around.

    Like everything else in Dresden, the opera house was destroyed by bombs in the night of February 13, 1945. From 1977 to 1985 it was again rebuilt in a form very much like the original.

    In the summer of 2002 the Elbe River overflowed its banks and flooded most of the city of Dresden, including the stage and technical sections of the opera house, so that again a huge rebuilding effort was necessary. Fortunately the flood waters stopped just centimeters short of the front end of the opera house, so the elaborate interior decoration (which is mostly made of plaster) was not seriously damaged.

    Semper Opera House
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