The Opernhaus, the principal venue for opera, ballet, and operetta performances. It is the 2nd largest opera house in Austria. Initially, today’s opera house was the municipal theatre and did not exclusively serve music. So it was opened with Schiller’s drama “Wilhelm Tell” on 16 September 1899 . At the request of the city council, the Viennese architects Fellner and Helmer, famous for their theatre projects, designed the building in the style of the Baroque master builder Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. (He was born in Graz but did not erect a single building there.) A bomb explosion in the Second World War resulted in the demolition of the original portico and a simplification of the façade.
Inside, however, the spacious staircase and the auditorium with its boxes, the luxuriant, partly gilded stucco and the baroque-manner ceiling paintings have remained intact. In the mid-eighties, a very sensitve extension designed by Gunther Wawrik was added to the opera house. Now a glazed bridge connects the stage area to the newly erected scene dock. Not only the 1,800 members of the audience, which the auditorium seats, are impressed by the performances. In the theatre season of 2000/01, Graz Opera House showed the best performances in the German-speaking countries. That’s what the 50 theatre critics concluded, when they selected Graz Opera House as “Opera House of the Year”.
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