Aalto-Theater: Essen Opera House

  based on 1 review   write a review

Essen, Germany

Aalto-Theater: Essen Opera House Reviews

Kathrin_E Kathrin_E
371 reviews
Alvar Aalto's Opera House Nov 21, 2012
Essen's modern opera house is not only a top class theatre but also a masterpiece of architecture. The history of its design and construction begins in 1959 when the city of Essen ran a contest which was won by one of the best European architects of the 20th century, the Fin Alvar Aalto. The following decade was spent discussing, changing, redesigning and adapting the plans, but then the city council decided to give another project priority, namely the construction of the new city hall. (Now to be honest, which of the two would you consider the worthier piece of architecture?) Anyway, there was money for but one. Only after the city hall was finished, in 1979 the city council finally decided to build the theatre. Aalto had in the meantime died. Another architect took over but Aalto's wife had a say in the final planning. In 1983 construction works started, five years later the building was finished. In September 1988 the first performance took place.

Aalto's architecture is to resemble Finnish landscapes. The curved surfaces of the facade remind me of a coastline with rocks that have been eroded to smooth, rounded shapes by wind and waves. The opera house was built in a corner of the park (Stadtgarten), hence it has open space around, trees and lawns.

Watching a performance is worthwhile, both for the quality of the show and for the architecture of the interior. Aalto designed his theatre after the model of Finnish landscapes. Organic forms are the base of the design. The colours of the hall are white and a dark blue. Walk the foyers and check the views from the different galleries during intermission.

Essen's opera house offers excellent opera and ballet (while plays are done at Grillo Theatre and concerts in the Philharmonie). Check what's on during the dates of your stay. Tickets can be obtained online through the website of Aalto theatre, too.

I saw a ballet performance of „Carmen“. The first part used Bizet's Carmen suite and told the story in dance. For the second part they invented a sequel to the opera plot: Carmen reawakens from death, and the figures from the opera also make an appearance in Beyond. For this second part they used a piece by Wolfgang Rihm and Ravel's Bolero. It was fantastic...

Dress Code: Youn won't be kicked out in jeans and sweater but to me, dressing up is part of an opera visit and adds to the festivity of the occasion. Jacket, shirt and tie for men, better a suit. For women, dress pants or skirt and nice top, or a dress. That should be the minimum. Of course you could dress more formal than that.
Alvar Aalto's Opera House
Alvar Aalto's Opera House, interior
Alvar Aalto's Opera House, interior
Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!

Check Essen Hotel Deals

Aalto-Theater: Essen Opera House Map
1 review - $93
1 review - $64
photo by: Vlindeke