National Opera House (Staatsoper)

National Opera House (Staatsoper) (13)

The National Opera House is found in Unter den Linden, next to Bebelplatz. It is a neo-classical style building built between the years 1741 and 1743 on the orders of Frederick II, following the classical trends fashionable during that period. It was designed by Knobelsdorrf and was one of the first buildings in Berlin to be designed in this style. 

In 1742, while still being built, it held its first opera, ´Cesar and Cleopatra` by Carl Heinrich Graun. The event turned out to be a success and marked the beginning of the institution’s brilliant future. For many years, the building was host to operas and prestigious concerts, until it was completely destroyed by a fire in 1843. 

After being restored, success returned to the opera house, arriving to a point at the end of the 19th century when illustrious orchestral conductors, like Richard Strauss, were persuaded to perform here by the quality of its concerts. 

The Second World War arrived, and with the rise of the Nazi Party, Jews employed by the opera house were sacked. Many musicians associated with it had to go into exile in order to survive. During the Third Reich, Herbert von Karajan was one of the opera house’s musical directors. 

The building had to be restored after the war, work that was completed by 1955. Years later, the Berlin Wall caused a slowing down in musical activity and the opera house lost some of its intensity and splendour. Despite this, it continued to be the site for classical music concerts, operas and contemporary ballet. 

Fortunately, after reunification, the National Opera House became again a key part of world culture and regained its former popularity. Of Berlin’s three opera houses, this is the most prestigious, and it is well-known in Europe as well as the whole world. 

Viewing this marvellous building, you would never guess it has been totally destroyed on three different occasions, once by fire, and twice during the Second World War.

It is difficult to acquire tickets for the biggest events, however there is always some minor concert playing which might not be sold out. Let’s see if you are lucky. If not, then we recommend you go to number 5, Unter den Linden, which is the address of Opernpalais, the former palace of princesses and home to the Operncafe. Here you can try a delicious slice of strudel or chocolate cake in surroundings which will take you back to the splendour of another time.

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