Reopening of Berlin's Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Alexandra Sell, Gordon Welters,
- Reopening of Berlin's Staatsoper Unter den Linden
The whole complex is listed and protected as a cultural heritage; the original Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin was commissioned by Frederick II of Prussia and designed by his architect Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff. It opened in 1742 and marked the start of a new urbanistic era for Berlin as part of a “Forum Fridericianium” cultural forum that included a number of imposing buildings.
Like the city of Berlin itself, its opera house has also gone through lots of changes. Destroyed twice during World War II - once in 1941, quickly rebuilt, then again in 1945 - the DDR (GDR) government decided to have it rebuilt again in 1951. The project by Richard Paulick, who after his return from exile in Shanghai worked in the East Berlin building academy and became one of the top names of post-war reconstruction in the divided city, took into account the new requirements of opera by including a fly tower. After it opened in 1955, other work followed at different times until the present, complete reconstruction of the whole complex.
In addition to the necessary work to clean up, stabilise and insulate the opera house, the architects, Joachim Munzig and Lutz Schütter from HG Merz also hugely improved the acoustics by raising the theatre's original ceiling and adding a "reverberation gallery" - a ceramic, acoustically transparent net that evenly distributes sound and gives it more space to develop. The exceptional acoustic results of this expedient even amazed the music director Daniel Barenboim.
Aesthetically, the reconstruction work restored the building's past splendour and colours, skillfully hiding the equipment and services systems to leave the atmosphere of the reborn opera house undisturbed.
After seven years of construction, the Staatsoper reopened on 3 October, the national holiday celebrating German unification. Only temporarily, however, because more work needs to be done and will only be fully completed by December 2017, when the opera season officially begins.
Reconstruction project: HG Merz
Location: Berlin, Germany
Images: © Gordon Welters, Christian von Steffelin
Find out more: https://www.staatsoper-berlin.de