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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Burgtheater

The Burgtheater is also known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, until 1920 the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world. The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as die Burg by the Viennese population, its theater company of more or less regular members has created a traditional style and speech typical of Burgtheater performances.

BurgtheaterThe Burgtheater was created on 14 March 1741 by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to be a theatre next to her palace, and her son, Emperor Joseph II called it the German National Theatre in 1776. Three Mozart operas premiered there: Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail in1782, Le nozze di Figaro in 1786 and Cosi fan tutte in 1790. Beginning in 1794, the theatre was called the K.K. Hoftheater nachst der Burg. Beethoven's 1st Symphony premiered there on April 2, 1800.

The theatre was moved to a new building at the Ringstra├če on 14 October 1888 designed by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer. In 1943, under Nazi rule, a notoriously extreme production of The Merchant of Venice was staged at the Burgtheater with Werner Krauss as Shylock, one of several theater and film roles by this actor pandering to antisemitic stereotypes.

Burgtheater Main EntranceBurgtheater Side ViewOn March 12, 1945 the Burgtheater was largely destroyed in a bombing raid, and, one month later, on April 12, 1945, the Burgtheater was further damaged by a fire of unknown origin. After the war, the theatre was restored between 1953-1955. The classic Burgtheater style and the Burgtheater-German language were trend-setting for German language theaters.

With many debut performances of plays written by Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke, Peter Turrini and George Tabori, Claus Peymann managed to affirm the Burgtheater's reputation as one of Europe's foremost stages. Particularly deserving artists may be designated honorable members. Their names are engraved in marble at the bottom end of the ceremonial stairs at the side of the theater facing the Volksgarten. Members of honor are: Annemarie Duringer, Wolfgang Gasser, Heinrich Schweiger, Gusti Wolf, and Michael Heltau.

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