“Semper Uber” in Dresden..one of the most beautiful theaters in the world

The kings of Saxony, and of Germany in general, and of Europe as a whole, were not mere ordinary kings ruling subjects. Rather, they were lovers of culture and connoisseurs of art, especially architecture. This is not proven by the architectural masterpieces they built and left for the enjoyment of subsequent generations throughout the ages. Among these architectural masterpieces, the Dresden Opera House, called the “Semper Opera”, is considered by many to be the most beautiful theater in the world.
The building stands in a vast square, the theater plaza, in the center of (the old) Dresden next to the eastern wall of the Zwinger Palace, only a few hundred meters from the river Elbe.
The name Semper Uber is attributed to the architect Gottfried Semper, who designed and built the building.
Gottfried Semper (29 November 1803 – 15 May 1879) was a German architect, art critic and professor of architecture who designed and built the Semper Opera House in Dresden between 1838 and 1841. In 1849, he took part in the May uprising in Dresden, which put him on the government’s wanted list, and he had no choice but to flee the country. He first landed in Zurich, Switzerland and then went to London. After the amnesty for the revolutionaries, which was issued in 1862, he returned to Germany.
Semper wrote many studies and articles on the origins of architecture, the most important of which is his book The Four Elements of Architecture, published in 1851. He was one of the main figures involved in the debate about the multicolored architectural style of ancient Greece.

In addition to the Opera Building in Dresden, Gottfried Semper designed and built a number of architectural monuments, such as the Semper Gallery, housed in Zwinger Palace, the Maximilianum Building in Munich, the Festival Theater in Bayreuth, and the Dresden synagogue, which he built according to the style of Islamic architecture. The Maghreb, which was removed in 1938. In Austria, Semper, the architect, Baron Karl von Hassenauer, participated in the construction of the Natural History Museum, the Burgtheater, the Neuburg Museum and Library, and the Museum of Art History in Vienna.
A number of specialists have discussed the architectural style of the Semper Ober building, which includes various architectural styles and styles, including the early Renaissance and Baroque styles. It also contains columns in the Corinthian style typical of Classical Greece (Classical Revival). So, perhaps the most appropriate name for this architectural style is ‘eclecticism’; It is a mixture of many styles – this style was the most popular during this period.
The interior design was created by famous architects of the time such as Johannes Schelling. The carvings on the portal depict famous artists, such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, William Shakespeare, Sophocles, Molière and Euripides, and were carved by a number of the most famous sculptors of the era, such as Ernst Reichl and Ernst Julius Hanel . This is in addition to dozens of statues and sculptures scattered on its main entrance, its columns and its inner and outer walls, the most important of which is the “Panther Quadriga with Dionysus and Ariadne” statue, which stands above the main entrance, by the sculptor Johannes Schilling (1828 – 1910). , who also sculpted the statue that stands in front of the opera house of King Johannes (John) of Saxony on his horse.

Two sculptures, one by Goethe, the other by Schiller, on either side of the main entrance of the Semper Opera.

The shocking and unfortunate news for art lovers, especially architecture, is that this opera house has been destroyed twice. The first was the result of a fire in 1869. But the people of Dresden immediately rushed to rebuild it exactly as it was, based on the same architectural plans. It was inaugurated in 1878. The second time was its deliberate destruction, by Allied forces (British and American) during the last weeks of the Second World War in 1945, during the massive and violent barbaric aerial bombardment of Dresden on the 13th, 14th and 15th of February / February 1945, which had no military justification except the deliberate destruction of these buildings and architectural masterpieces of outstanding beauty in the city of Dresden. But after forty years, that is, on the thirteenth of February 1985, the process of rebuilding the Semper Opera House was completed, as before the war. It reopens with the same opera that was performed before the destruction in 1945, the opera “Der Freichutz”, composed by the musician and conductor Karl Maria von Weber. This reopening was a socio-cultural celebration involving hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Dresden and surrounding fans of this age-old art. The interior is built according to the original templates and plans available, and the theater and auditorium are equipped with the latest technology. While another new building has been earmarked to house administration offices and training spaces. Semper Uber is world-renowned for its unparalleled shows with luxurious sounds, which continue to attract huge audiences from around the world.

The art of opera in Dresden dates back to 1548. This is the date of the founding of the Saxon Staatskapelle Dresden, which has become one of the most famous orchestras in the world. In 1667, the first opera house was opened under the direction of the chief court, Johann Adolf Hass. From that day on, the Dresden Opera began to develop and grow to make Dresden the European capital of opera.
In the Dresden Opera House “Semper Opera” Carl Maria von Weber founded the “Saxon Opera Company” in 1817. Also at the Semper Opera, the history of opera was written with a number of first performances, such as “The Flying Dutchman”, “Tannhauser”, and “Renzi”, by Richard Wagner, who became the director of court music in 1843. There were more than 40 premieres, including nine by Richard Strauss, including “Salome”, “Electra” and “Rosencavalier Abbey”. By 1938, five more opera performances had their world debuts in Dresden. So far, a number of opera performances by international teams are opening for the first time at the Simper Uber House, in addition to the ongoing performances of local teams.

(Photos are by the author of the article).

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