HIstory of the DNT
The Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar is one of the oldest theatres in germany with a long tradition and a history dating back to the 18th century when the most famous german author of the classical period – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – directed the theatre. Today the Deutsches Nationaltheater offers a broad repertoire of classical and modern opera and theatre productions as well as concerts in four very different venues: Großes Haus, Studiobühne, E-Werk and Weimarhalle.
Goethe, Schiller, Bach, Hummel, Liszt, Strauss – only few german theatres can look back onto such a rich background of famous artists like the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar. Its history reaching from 18th to 21st century, the theatre not only needs to reflect the tensions between classic and modern times but also between humanism and most recent german historical developments. As a point of artistic reflexion and cristallisation the theatre and its artistic and political development stood between avant-garde and the maintenance of tradition, between ideals and their betrayal for propaganda or the need to economise.
Next to a strong ensemble of singers and actors another important branche of the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar is the Staatskapelle – one of the oldest orchestras in germany and the only one of its size in thuringia.
With up to 600 performances and concerts per year, Staatskapelle and DNT have a major part in forming the cultural calendar of the city of Weimar. A continuing contemporary discussion of the classical repertoire is an important part of the theatres program alongside world premieres of contemporary pieces and operas or the development of plays by young writers. With a rich and diverse range of programs for kids and teenagers the theatre- and concert paedagogical department of the DNT offers a variety of possibilities for the young generation to develop an artistic and socio-political awareness and understanding of the past and future.
The neoclassical theatre building with a modern interior was built 1906/07 at the location of the former court theatre. 1945 the building was destroyed shortly before the end of the war and was rebuilt 1947-1948 as the first german theatre. The auditorium where the weimar republic was proclaimed in 1919 received its actual optic in the 1970ies.
The former electricity station, now called E-Werk and under monument conservation, has been an alternative venue for unconventional projects of the DNT since 2000. It has since developed to be an attractive meeting point for the young generation, where mostly contemporary theatre works are performed in variable play-rooms.
The Staatskapelle Weimar, founded in 1491, is one of the oldest, most illustrious orchestras in the world and is closely associated to some of the world’s best known musicians and works. In 1756, Duchess Anna Amalia made the orchestra the primary musical institution of ‘Classical Weimar’. Thanks to the influence of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, a number of prominent musical figures of the 19th century, including Mozart’s former student Johann Nepomuk Hummel, were appointed to lead the orchestra. The famous musician, Franz Liszt, served as Hofkapellmeister from 1848 to 1858 and produced the world premieres of numerous contemporary pieces, such as Wagner’s “Lohengrin” (1850), which he helped make an international success. Richard Strauss served as second Kapellmeister from 1889 to 1894 and produced the world premieres of his own “Guntram” and Humperdinck’s „Hansel and Gretel“. Under his direction, the court orchestra also performed the world premieres of his orchestral works “Don Juan”, “Macbeth” and “Death and Transfiguration”.
In 1919 the orchestra was renamed the “Weimarian State Orchestra”. Following the calamitous events of World War II, the conductor Hermann Abendroth re-established the Staatskapelle Weimar to its former grandeur and quality, making it one of Germany’s leading orchestras.
After 1990, the Staatskapelle Weimar was expanded to almost 100 musicians. Since then, it has worked to cultivate its great traditions while combining them with innovative aspects, a constantly expanding repertoire and regular guest performances by world-class soloists and conductors.
The Staatskapelle Weimar offers an extensive concert programme, comprised of top-rate symphony concerts (including several organised in cooperation with the “pèlerinages” Kunstfest Weimar directed by Nike Wagner), film and chamber concerts, diverse educational programmes and open-air concerts in the summer.
The orchestra also produces a wide range of CD recordings which reflect its impressively diverse repertoire with works by Liszt, Wagner, Strauss, Furtwängler and several contemporary composers.
The Staatskapelle Weimar is internationally renowned as a first-class concert orchestra and has guest performed in Japan, Israel, Spain, Italy, Great Britain, Austria, at the Dresden Music Festival, Prague Autumn and at numerous major concert halls in Germany. Its busy international touring schedule recently included guest performances in London, Basingstoke, Basel, Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Maribór, at the Burghofspiele Eltville, the Cologne Philharmonie, the Tonhalle Düsseldorf, at the Großes Festspielhaus in Salzburg and a several-day tour through Spain in May2013. During the 2013/14 season, the Staatskapelle will give guest performances at the Chorin Music Summer festival, in Rosenheim, Wiesbaden, Trier and Bayreuth.
Apart from its extensive concert activities, the Staatskapelle Weimar celebrates the great opera traditions of the late Romantic period at the DNT at the highest level of quality. In addition to numerous world premieres, the Staatskapelle Weimar garnered national acclaim for its “Ring of the Nibelung” cycle, produced from 2006 to 2008.
At the beginning of the 2009/10 season, the Swedish conductor Stefan Solyom took the reigns as general music director and head conductor of the Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar – the only A-level orchestra in the state of Thuringia.