The Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich
Munich was the last stop on my amazing 3 week trip to Austria, Hungary, and Germany this summer and what a trip it was! It all started in Innsbruck at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference, where I was invited to host a photo walk of the city for the participating bloggers. On my last full day of shooting on this trip I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing location to photograph.
The day started off on a disappointing note though. When I arrived at the Bavarian State Opera House, I was sad to see that the exterior of the building was partly under scaffolding. There was a lot of construction and renovation work being done all over the exterior of the building. I see this kind of thing all the time, as it is only normal that such historic buildings need constant upkeep, maintenance and restoration. Even though I understand why this happens, I still wish they would consult with me before planning these projects! ;)
The host with the most
After a short wait at the security entrance to the Opera, where I had a nice time talking with the guard (yes… even the security guards here have class!) I was met by Reinhard Düesterdick, who was kind enough to be my host for the morning. Unfortunately I have no aptitude for foreign languages and I could see that he was not totally comfortable speaking English. We did our best to understand each other and I really enjoyed his company and the information that he was able to share with me about the building and the opera in general. I’m grateful that so many people are willing to try to speak in English to me when I travel, it makes things so much easier, I just wish that I didn’t have such a hard time remembering the simplest things in foreign languages. One of the things I find most impressive about Europeans is the fact that so many of them speak a multitude different languages. Lucky for me, English and French are often included on their list.
Hurry up and take your time
I often feel like I have to hurry up to get the photos I want to take, but Reinhard made sure to let me know from the very beginning that there was no rush and I could take my time. Thank goodness for that because this was one amazing location to photograph and I had it all to myself this day! I’m only showcasing some of what I was able to photograph on this morning. I’ll have to do a second post, at some point, about the detail shots that I took. I could literally have spent a couple of days, if not more, taking photos here. There is so much to see and I can only imagine how amazing it would be to attend an actual opera here.
My guide with pride
After a very short time inside the Opera House, I could see that Reinhard was just beaming with pride, and rightfully so. As the Director of Property Management he has a huge job overseeing the general maintenance of the building as well as the renovations that were taking place behind the scenes. It was just a few short weeks before the start of the season, and the exterior of the building was being worked on at a feverish pace. On the inside, the hallways and entrance were also being stripped and remodelled for the new season. It was kind of funny to see the workers look a lot busier as soon as we walked by. From what he told me, this renovation and remodelling goes on before every new season. That’s a lot of work, but I’m sure it’s worth it to the hundreds of thousands of spectators that the Bayerische Staatsoper hosts each year.
What comes down must come up again!
The building itself, which is often called the National Theatre Munich or Nationaltheater München, was built between 1751 and 1753. Sadly, the building was ravaged by fire in 1823 and was quickly rebuilt in 1825. Once again, the building was destroyed in bombing raids in 1943 during World War II. It was rebuilt again and opened in 1963 for a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Famous World Premieres
- The list refers only to those premieres of the Bavarian State Opera staged in the Nationaltheater. The Bavarian State Opera had additional premieres in other theatres. Also the Bavarian State Ballet had premieres in the National Theatre.
- 7 October 1849, Benvenuto Cellini by Franz Lachner, Henri-Auguste Barbier and Léon de Wailly (German by: ?)
- 10 June 1865, Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner
- 21 June 1868, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
- 22 September 1869, Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner
- 26 June 1870, Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
- 29 June 1888, Die Feen by Richard Wagner
- 23 January 1897, Königskinder (Melodrama edition) by Engelbert Humperdinck and Elsa Bernstein
- 10 October 1897, Sarema by Alexander von Zemlinsky, Adolf von Zemlinszky and Arnold Schönberg
- 22 January 1899, Der Bärenhäuter by Siegfried Wagner
- 19 March 1906, I quattro rusteghi (Die vier Grobiane) by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Giuseppe Pizzolato (German by Hermann Teibler)
- 11 December 1906, Das Christelflein by Hans Pfitzner and Ilse von Stach
- 4 December 1909, Il segreto di Susanna (Susannens Geheimnis) by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Enrico Golisciani (German by Max Kalbeck)
- 28 March 1916, Der Ring des Polykrates by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Leo Feld and Julius Korngold and; Violanta by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Hans Müller-Einigen
- 30 November 1920, Die Vögel by Walter Braunfels (freely adapted from Aristophanes)
- 15 November 1924, Don Gil von den grünen Hosen by Walter Braunfels (by Tirso de Molina)
- 12 November 1931, Das Herz by Hans Pfitzner and Hans Mahner-Mons
- 24 July 1938, Friedenstag by Richard Strauss, Joseph Gregor and Stefan Zweig
- 5 February 1939, Der Mond by Carl Orff
- 28 October 1942, Capriccio (opera) by Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss
- 27 November 1963, Die Verlobung in San Domingo by Werner Egk (by Heinrich von Kleist)
- 1 August 1972, Sim Tjong by Yun I-sang and Harald Kunz
- 9 July 1978, Lear by Aribert Reimann and Claus H. Henneberg
- 10 May 1981, Lou Salomé by Giuseppe Sinopoli and Karl Dietrich Gräwe
- 22 July 1985 Le Roi Bérenger (König Bérenger I.) by Heinrich Sutermeister (by Eugène Ionesco)
- 8 November 1985, Night by Lorenzo Ferrero and Peter Wehran (after Novalis)
- 25 January 1986, Belshazar by Volker David Kirchner and Harald Weirich
- 7 July 1986, Troades by Aribert Reimann and Gerd Albrecht (by Euripides and Franz Werfel)
- 6 July 1991, Ubu Rex by Krzysztof Penderecki (by Alfred Jarry)
- 1 July 1996, Schlachhof 5 by Hans-Jürgen von Bose (by Kurt Vonnegut)
- 24 May 1998, Was ihr wollt by Manfred Trojahn and Claus H. Henneberg
- 30 October 2000, Bernarda Albas Haus by Aribert Reimann (by Federico García Lorca)
- 27 October 2006, Das Gehege by Wolfgang Rihm and Botho Strauß
- 30 June 2007, Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang
The good side of travel
These are the moments that make travel worth it for me. Being on the road can be trying some times, as was the case just a couple weeks ago in Chiapas, Mexico. That trip was so poorly organized by the PR firm representing the Mexican tourism board that for the first time in my life, I wish I had just stayed home instead of going on a trip. The complete opposite can be said about my time in Munich. The tourism board went out of their way to make sure I got in touch with the wonderful people at the Bavarian State Opera, who made sure that I got all the photos I wanted to help showcase their incredible building.
As I was packing my equipment at the end of the shoot, Reinhard and I were talking about what it’s like to attend an opera at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Some of the Wagner operas can last up to 6 hours! He said that the tickets are sold out well in advance and it is nearly impossible to get one for any show during the season. As he was telling me this, he slipped me his business card and told me to call him the next time I’m in town and that he would be happy to have me as his guest to an opera performance. How incredible is that?
Now I just have to plan to be back in Munich during Oktoberfest (I missed it by 6 days), which is also the beginning of the opera season. Two perfect reasons to return to such a fun city.
Little did I know, but the Bavarian State Opera and my hometown Montreal Symphony Orchestra have something in common. They share Kent Nagano as their musical director. It’s fun to find out things that we have in common when we travel. The more I travel, the more I meet people from all over the world, the more I enjoy finding out about their history, their culture, and even simple little facts like this. I keep promising myself to take more time to talk with people when on the road. It’s not just the photos that are memorable, it’s also the fun moments that are spent with all kinds of different people. I really enjoyed spending the morning with Reinhard, and was also fortunate to spend the afternoon with some of the nice people at the Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich.
That evening I enjoyed the company of my host Benjamin, whose apartment I was staying in. I was sponsored on this trip by Air BnB, who set me up in some great apartments in Austria, Hungary, and Germany. Once again, getting to know someone local was a special part of the trip for me. Benjamin and I solved all the world’s problems by drinking a couple of bottles of wine that night. Funny, that’s how we do it here in Canada as well! Amazing how we have so much in common all over the world. ;)
What a wonderful day and perfect way to end my trip to Europe! I’m looking forward to being back in April when I head to Umbria in Italy.
Karen Johnson says
Just beautiful Ken!
Kris Koeller says
What a great series and a fine tribute to an amazing building. Looks like you had the run of the place. Well done.
Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista says
As usual, these are amazing pictures! Although I loved them all, the reception room really caught my eye. I would love to stand in that room.
Carlos Garcia says
Don’t know what to say! Here goes: Stunning! Brilliant! Bravo! Encore!
Lisa Wood says
Your photos are amazing – you so make me wnat to visit Bavarian State Opera House! Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos!
Martin Cooke says
Dear Ken thank you for this wonderful photographic tribute to our opera house which is one of the world’s 6 major houses.
You have really captured its gracious beauty and uplifting splendour. I never tire from looking into the auditorium from the stage. When I entered the auditorium in the gallery for the first time many years ago it literally took my breath away.
Thank you for your excellent and artisitic photography.
Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera
Martin Cooke says
Pfitzner’s major opera “Palestrina” also recived its world premier at the Staatsoper the the Hofoper in 1917.
Ken Kaminesky says
Karen, Thank you!
Kris, I did have the run of the place. It was a magic moment for me and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity.
Debbie, Standing in any of the rooms at the opera House is an incredible feeling. i just hope i can attend a show there one day.
Carlos, Gracias amigo!
Lisa, you so should add this place to your list of must see places. It is awesome!
Martin, what a special treat to have a member of the Bavarian State Opera comment on my photos! Thank you for taking the time to do so. I hope that I can get a chance to come see you in a performance one day. While photographing the Opera House while it was empty was amazing, the true experience would be to be there for an opera performance. One day! :D
Siddhartha Joshi says
Superb Ken! As usual I love your pictures as well as the words :) And yes, its great to have Martin comment on your post…must have made your day :)
Wise thing to solve the world’s problems by drinking wine, after all, according to Pasteur “A bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world”. And he was SMART!
Edith Levy says
Stunning images Ken.
Fantastic Ken! I love the style and history of these old theaters. Definitely would love to see a show here!
This place is so beautiful, and your photos really convey the beauty wonderfully. Great work!
Beautiful photographs, as always!!
Lola Mimi Marcus says
WOW!! Awesome pics… *thumbs up*
I love how you’ve brought the glow of the lights to life…Wonderful…
Goreous Work Ken! Look at all those famous openings! Imagine the people that have sat in that space. Incredible.
Ken Kaminesky says
Siddartha, It did make my day to have Martin comment here :D
Gaby, Wise man that Pasteur!
Deb, Wouldn’t it be amazing to attend an opera here? One day!
Thanks everyone for the very kind comments. The Bayerische Staatsoper is a MUST SEE place when in Munich, I’m sure you can see why :D
Ana Belanda says
Amazing pictures! Thank you.
Wow! Absolutely gorgeous!
Awesome shots from the state opera.
Wow! Really Awesome! Amazing pictures.
Anna Ridley says
I think you are offically my favourite travel photographer! Absolutely beautiful pictures! I’m a travel writer and off to Iceland next month to write about the Northern Lights! I really hope these are on your list of things to photograph – I would love to see them in your portfolio and perhaps another Nat Geo front cover?!
Ken Kaminesky says
Anna, I’m planning a visit to Iceland this spring. I can’t wait! Not sure if the aurorae are as spectacular at that time but hopefully I’ll catch some. If not, I do plan on going back in winter one day.
Anna Ridley says
Fingers crossed you’ll have some luck! I’ll keep you posted if I manage to see them while I’m there. Though, I doubt my disposable camera happy snaps will do them any justice so I’ll leave that to you experts! I’ve heard that the longest day of the year between midnight and 3am is one of the best times to see them (June 21st).
Dennis Bartow says
I just found your website. I attended a performance of Tosca the night after you posted these photos. I took a few photos inside the opera house before I was busted by the Photo Police! I’m so happy to find your photos so I can share with family and friends as to what I’m seeing while there. I’ll be going back in March for Die Walküre. Thank you for the wonderful photos of an incredible place.
Oh, I am a US citizen living in Germany for a few years.
I’ll be going here this month. Any tips on photographing this beautiful space? You captured it’s beauty and grandeur wonderfully! Thanks for sharing!
Lisa Bond says
I truly enjoyed your photos on the Opera House in Munich. Having lived in Stuttgart, Germany for two years, seeing these made me homesick for its amazing architecture and the people. Bavaria is truly breathtaking and so are your photos. Incredible! Guten Tag!
Gert Blum says
It was beautiful to see the Munich Opera House again. I was born in Munich in 1935. My grandfather was the owner of the Munich Opera House, but because his wife was a Jewess, all his properties were confiscated by the Nazis. Here is an extract about who they were.
Hedwig Blum (*21.04.1883 born in Kassell as Dispeker or Dispester [maiden name]) moved on the 12.12.1934 from 2, Jaegarstrasse, Munich to 19 or 17a Archstrasse in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Germany). She was married to Johann Blum. My mother and father, together with my brother and me, fled as refugees to England in 1939. My grandmother Hedwig was murdered by the Nazis because she was a Jewess.
We were brought up in England as refugees. I now live in Australia with my own family.
If you would like more information, please contact me on this email address. Yours sincerely, Gert (Gerry) von Blum.
The Bavarian State Opera has been the property of the Bavarian State Government since 1918 and before that it was called the Hoftheater or Royal Court Opera which was owned by the Wittelsbach royal family who were the rulers of Bavaria and other parts of Germany from the 10th century. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Wittelsbach.
Maybe your grandfather held a senior position at the Opera in management? I will see what I can find out from the opera archives and let you know.
Designer & Architect Alliance says
Great designs and picture of Bavarian State Opera House thanks for sharing this post
Beautiful photos and and a great article. I loved all the comments,but did anyone read the blog and notice this?… How is the building designed to Richard wagners specifications between 1751-1753, he wasn’t born yet.. Mike
I typed the wrong e-mail.. This is the correct one….. and again.. Beautiful blog none the less, mike
London Leslie says
Great post and great pictures! I have only seen this building from the outside and I had no idea of what I was missing on the inside. Kind of funny that Oktoberfests coincides with the opening of Opera season as the two couldn’t be more opposite, but as you said, two great reasons to visit in the Fall. I missed it by like 1 week myself.
Tim Marchmont says
As a violinist who used to play a great deal at the Bavarian State Opera, I was aware of Richard Wagner’s genius. However, I did not know that this extended to designing opera houses before he was even born!
Ken Kaminesky says
Haha Tim… My bad!
It is actually the Prinzregententheater that was built to Wagner’s specs. I misread that part while doing my research. Thanks for the correction!
Stephen Kolars says
Nice pics. Thanks for bringing back memories. I grew up in Germany, as a military dependent, in the early to late 60\’s. I saw my first opera (Rigoletto) in this opera house. At that time the chandelier came down several balconies. Before the performance it went all the way up into the ceiling. It was a ceremony in itself. Did you take any pictures of the marble staircases? If so, it would be nice to see them posted as well. The people, and the way they dressed, were a large part of the experience.
wonderful photographic tribute Bavarian State Opera opera house.
Duy Zin says
Nice pictures! Thank you sharing
so awesome. I grew up in Germany then moved to Australia. This pics remind me a lot of things. Thank you for sharing.
It’s not just the photos that are memorable, it’s also the fun moments that are spent with all kinds of different people.
this place is so beautiful with interesting and attractive architect,
yahoo support says
WOW! Awesome pictures.Just love the pictures.It’s my dream to capture these kinds of beautiful places in my camera.
Keep sharing more.
Can’t describe by word. STUNNING!
Coincidently meet this post when watching TV. Keep posting very interesting post like that!
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WOW! Wonderful photographic tribute Bavarian State Opera opera house.!! You have really captured its gracious beauty and uplifting splendor. I never tire of looking into the auditorium from the stage. When I entered the auditorium in the gallery for the first time many years ago it literally took my breath away.Keep posting the very interesting post like that!
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Subway Surfers Apk says
Nice pics. thank you for this wonderful photographic tribute to our opera house which is one of the world’s 6 major houses.
William Kashtra says
Thanks you so much for sharing this important information
Uttarakhand Tour Packages says
Thanks for sharing
I will hopefully be attending a performance at this magnificent theatre next year, may I kindly ask whether the seats at the bottom ground floor are all on the same level, or if they are ascending, with the seats at the back being slightly higher? Thanks!
Martin Cooke says
The Parkett as it is called on the ground floor is raked, higher at the rear, so everyone has a clear view.
Urvashi Chopra says
Love this article