Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and with it the opera house’s renowned orchestra. The remarkable history of this orchestra is closely linked to the city’s own tale. When a group of Berliners founded their own opera over a century ago - a house that, dispensing with private boxes and offering unimpeded views of the stage regardless of seat position, was the embodiment of a “democratic” ideal - their act was tantamount to a minor revolution. In the 1920s famous personages such as Wilhelm Furtwängler and Bruno Walter were regular guest conductors at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the first gramophone recordings date back to that period. The opera house fell victim to aerial bombardment in the Second World War and the company spent many years performing at substitute venues before the opera house reopened in 1961 in the Bismarckstraße, its current premises. Since then the Deutsche Oper Berlin has not only been the city’s largest opera venue, with 1860 seats, outstanding acoustics and excellent overall views of the stage, but has also enjoyed a reputation as one of the prime addresses for world opera.

A sparkling array of conductors has graced the orchestra podium, either as guests or as principle conductors. They range from Lorin Maazel and Herbert von Karajan to Giuseppe Sinopoli and Christian Thielemann, the latter serving as General Music Director from 1997 to 2004. Since 2009, the Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin has had a principal conductor of international standing in the form of Donald Runnicles. The great relationship between the orchestra and Runnicles is set to continue until 2022 following the early renewal of his contract.

One of the key areas of focus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin concerns the works of Richard Wagner and Richard Strauss. The orchestra’s Wagner tradition has resulted in many of its musicians performing as members of the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra. Another major characteristic of the orchestra is its ongoing interest in contemporary music. Numerous composers have worked closely with the orchestra. The most recent example is Helmut Lachenmann, who collaborated intensively in the run-up to performances of his opera, “Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern”. In the autumn of 2017 the opera house hosted the premiere of “L’Invisible”, the fruit of its latest collaboration with Aribert Reimann, who has an extensive record of premieres performed by the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The new opera by Detlev Glanert, “Oceane”, was programmed for the 2018/19 season and in November 2019 Chaya Czernowins “Heart Chamber”.

Aside from its opera productions, the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin presents leading soloists in its regular symphony concerts both in the Bismarckstraße and at the Berlin Philharmonie. Parallel to this main fare the programme is peppered with concerts performed by a variety of ensembles comprising members of the orchestra – from string quartets to big-band ensembles. The orchestra’s discography extends to almost 200 titles, including numerous outstanding recordings. In its most recent venture into the recording studio the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin provided the accompaniment for tenor Jonas Kaufmann in a Wagner recital. The CD resulted in a shower of awards, including the “Echo Klassik” prize for Jonas Kaufmann. The DVD of Leoš Janáček’s “Jenufa”, featuring the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin under the baton of Donald Runnicles, was nominated in 2015 for the “Best Opera Recording” Grammy. The recording of Aribert Reimann’s “L’Invisible” will be followed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s “Das Wunder der Heliane” and by Alexander Zemlinsky’s “Der Zwerg”.


As of May 2020

Orchester Deutsche Oper Berlin

© Bettina Stöß

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