Lohengrin

Our feelings tell us immediately that Elsa is the one who can claim greater justification and that Lohengrin’s condition »Never ask me questions…« can only shrug off the appearance of wanton tyranny if it can be demonstrated to be necessary; this condition must be justified, since on its own, faced with the higher law that states that there may be no secrets between lovers, it is hollow and without foundation, especially as Lohengrin would be hard put to comply if Elsa were to demand the same devotion from him. In an age when faith in the mystery of the Holy Grail was alive, Lohengrin’s demand might seem fair and Elsa’s question a presumption deserving of punishment; any age, in fact, that still respects subservient trust and unwavering subordination to authority will reconcile itself to the demand. We, on the other hand, see Elsa’s actions as the one true course, see her downfall as unmotivated.
[Excerpt from an article on the Berlin premiere of LOHENGRIN (January 1859) in Berlinische Nachrichten von Staats- und gelehrten Sachen; premiere in the Königliches Hoftheater in Weimar: August 1850.]

Atonement for Elsa’s mistake can only take the form of punishment, and there are few more consistent, more indispensable punishments than that of enforced separation: Elsa cannot be flogged or put to death. Any punishment other than the penalty of separation would be an arbitrary ruling and open to criticism. The severest penalty, that of separation, appears as the most indispensable, and it cannot seem to be too hard as it is the fairest and most logical punishment of them all. Elsa has forfeited Lohengrin […]. As for the fable’s symbolism I will just say: the overlap between extrasensory manifestation and human nature and the impossibility of such an overlap surviving for any length of time.
[Richard Wagner in a letter to Hermann Franck, 30th May 1846]

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May 2019

Deutsche Oper Berlin

The Deutsche Oper Berlin is an opera company located in the Charlottenburg district of Berlin, Germany. The resident building is the country's second largest opera house and also home to the Berlin State Ballet.

The company's history goes back to the Deutsches Opernhaus built by the then independent city of Charlottenburg—the "richest town of Prussia"—according to plans designed by Heinrich Seeling from 1911. It opened on November 7, 1912 with a performance of Beethoven's Fidelio, conducted by Ignatz Waghalter. After the incorporation of Charlottenburg by the 1920 Greater Berlin Act, the name of the resident building was changed to Städtische Oper (Municipal Opera) in 1925.

Deutsches Opernhaus, 1912
With the Nazi Machtergreifung in 1933, the opera was under control of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Minister Joseph Goebbels had the name changed back to Deutsches Opernhaus, competing with the Berlin State Opera in Mitte controlled by his rival, the Prussian minister-president Hermann Göring. In 1935, the building was remodeled by Paul Baumgarten and the seating reduced from 2300 to 2098. Carl Ebert, the pre-World War II general manager, chose to emigrate from Germany rather than endorse the Nazi view of music, and went on to co-found the Glyndebourne opera festival in England. He was replaced by Max von Schillings, who acceded to enact works of "unalloyed German character". Several artists, like the conductor Fritz Stiedry or the singer Alexander Kipnis followed Ebert into emigration. The opera house was destroyed by a RAF air raid on 23 November 1943. Performances continued at the Admiralspalast in Mitte until 1945. Ebert returned as general manager after the war.

After the war, the company in what was now West Berlin used the nearby building of the Theater des Westens until the opera house was rebuilt. The sober design by Fritz Bornemann was completed on 24 September 1961. The opening production was Mozart's Don Giovanni. The new building opened with the current name.

© Günter Karl Bose
© © Günter Karl Bose
© Bettina Stöß
© © Bettina Stöß
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