Vienna State Opera

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Vienna State Opera,

opera house and company in Vienna, Austria, founded in 1869 as an expansion of the Vienna Court Opera (Hofoper). Destroyed by wartime bombing in 1945, the elegant building's reconstruction was completed in 1955. In the interim, performances were held at the Vienna Volksoper and the Theater an der Wien. The company is known especially for its presentations of works by Richard StraussStrauss, Richard
, 1864–1949, German composer. Strauss brought to a culmination the development of the 19th-century symphonic poem, and was a leading composer of romantic opera in the early 20th cent.
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, Richard WagnerWagner, Richard
, 1813–83, German composer, b. Leipzig. Life and Work

Wagner was reared in a theatrical family, had a classical education, and began composing at 17.
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, and Wolfgang Amadeus MozartMozart, Wolfgang Amadeus
, 1756–91, Austrian composer, b. Salzburg. Mozart represents one of the great peaks in the history of music. His works, written in almost every conceivable genre, combine luminous beauty of sound with classical grace and technical perfection.
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. Among its storied conductors have been Gustav MahlerMahler, Gustav
, 1860–1911, composer and conductor, born in Austrian Bohemia of Jewish parentage. Mahler studied at the Univ. of Vienna and the Vienna Conservatory.
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 (1897–1907), Bruno WalterWalter, Bruno,
1876–1962, German-American conductor, b. Berlin as Bruno Walter Schlesinger. Walter studied at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin. After he had conducted in several German cities, Gustav Mahler appointed him (1901) assistant conductor of the Vienna State
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 (1936–38), Karl BöhmBöhm, Karl,
1894–1981, Austrian conductor. He studied with the musicologist Eusebius Mandyczewski and took a law degree before turning to conducting. After successful appearances with leading German orchestras, he was appointed director of the Vienna State Opera, a
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 (1943–45, 1954–56), Herbert von KarajanKarajan, Herbert von
, 1908–89, Austrian conductor. Karajan began his conducting career in 1927. After World War II his reputation spread through Europe to the United States.
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 (1956–64), Lorin MaazelMaazel, Lorin Varencove,
1930–2014, American conductor, b. Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. A musical prodigy, he spent his childhood in Los Angeles, where he made his conducting debut at nine and his violin debut at fifteen.
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 (1982–84), Claudio AbbadoAbbado, Claudio,
1933–2014, Italian conductor, b. Milan. He debuted (1960) in his native city, conducting the orchestra at La Scala, where he subsequently served (1968–86) as musical director.
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 (1986–91), and Seiji OzawaOzawa, Seiji
, 1935–, Japanese conductor, b. Japanese-occupied Manchuria. A graduate of the Toho School of Music, Ozawa became the first Japanese conductor to gain recognition in the West, winning competitions in Europe and the United States.
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 (2002–10). Dominique Meyer is the current general director.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vienna State Opera

 

(until 1918, Vienna Court Opera), the largest opera theater and center of Austrian musical culture. The origin of the Vienna Court Opera dates from the middle of the 17th century. During the 17th and 18th centuries opera performances were staged in various theater buildings (after 1763, in the Kärntnertor-theater). In the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th the repertoire of the theater consisted largely of Italian operas. Beginning in the middle of the 18th century, the operatic reform of C. W. Gluck exerted an important influence on the Vienna Court Opera; a national operatic style was developed (performances of the operas of I. Umlauf, K. von Dittersdorf, and W. A. Mozart). In the 19th century the important works of German, Austrian, Italian, and French composers were staged and many prominent European singers performed there. After the 1880’s the Vienna Court Opera became one of the best European opera houses through the activities of H. Richter, its musical director and conductor from 1875, and especially of G. Mahler, the head of the theater from 1897 to 1907.

In 1869 the opera received a building of its own, where the operas of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Debussy, and R. Strauss were staged and the first performances in Vienna of Tchaikovsky’s operas Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, and lolanthe were given. At the beginning of the 20th century the operas of A. Schönberg, E. Křenek, E. Korngold, A. Berg, and other composers occupied a considerable place in the opera’s repertoire.

During the fascist occupation of the country (1938—45) the opera experienced a period of decline. During the bombardment of Vienna in 1945, its building was destroyed (rebuilt in 1955). After the liberation of Austria in 1945, the Vienna State Opera resumed its activities and soon regained its place as the leading musical center of Austria. In the 1940’s through 1960’s the repertoire of the theater included, besides the classics, operas by such modern composers as C. Orff, W. Egk, P. Hindemith, F. Poulenc, and I. Pizzetti. The best singers of Austria and other countries perform here under the batons of the most prominent conductors: C. Krauss, R. Strauss, B. Walter, O. Klemperer, W. Furtwängler, J. Krips, V. de Sabata, K. Böhm, D. Mitropoulos, L. Bernstein, and others. H. von Karajan was its artistic director from 1956 to 1964.

REFERENCES

Chernaia, E. Avstriiskii musykal’nyi teatr do Motsarta. Moscow, 1965.
Kralik, H. Die Wiener Oper. Vienna, 1962.

S. M. GRISHCHENKO

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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