The first permanent theatre in Weimar, the "Komödienhaus", was built in 1779 by decision of Duke Carl August - at that time already at the location of the present theatre. During Goethe's directorship from 1791 to 1817, this house underwent a number of structural changes over the next few decades. At Goethe's instigation, the interior of the Komödienhaus was transformed into a "friendly, shining fairy castle" (Karoline Schlegel) with columns, galleries and balconies to offer the audience an all-round aesthetic theatre experience. In March 1825 the Komödienhaus burned down, but in the same year the gates of the new Hoftheater opened on the same site.
The theatre, as we know it today from the outside, was built between 1906 and 1907 under the architect Professor Max Littmann - the size and structure of the old court theatre no longer met the requirements. The newly designed neoclassical building corresponded to the ideas of a representative theatre building at that time. In 1945 the building was destroyed except for the façade during an air raid. Reconstruction began in the same year and in 1948 the theatre, characteristically the first of the German theatres to be destroyed in the war, was reopened with Goethe's Faust I. Between 1973 and 1975 the original state was reconstructed, followed by a renovation phase between 1997 and 1999.
The modern interior of the neoclassical theatre building and its auditorium, in which the German National Assembly met in 1919 and the Weimar Constitution was passed, was given its present appearance in the 1970s.
The Staatskapelle Weimar, founded in 1491, is one of the oldest, most illustrious orchestras in the world and is closely associated to some of the world’s best known musicians and works. In 1756, Duchess Anna Amalia made the orchestra the primary musical institution of ‘Classical Weimar’. Thanks to the influence of Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, a number of prominent musical figures of the 19th century, including Mozart’s former student Johann Nepomuk Hummel, were appointed to lead the orchestra. The famous musician, Franz Liszt, served as Hofkapellmeister from 1848 to 1858 and produced the world premieres of numerous contemporary pieces, such as Wagner’s Lohengrin (1850), which he helped make an international success. Richard Strauss served as second Kapellmeister from 1889 to 1894 and produced the world premieres of his own Guntram and Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. Under his direction, the court orchestra also performed the world premieres of his orchestral works Don Juan, Macbeth and Death and Transfiguration.
The positive progress of the orchestra, renamed the “Weimarische Staatskapelle” in 1919, came to an abrupt end when the National Socialists seized power in 1933. Following the calamitous events of World War II, the conductor Hermann Abendroth re-established the Staatskapelle Weimar to its former grandeur and quality, making it one of Germany’s leading orchestras. Since the 1980s, the conductors Peter Gülke, Oleg Caetani and Hans-Peter Frank as well as the present honorary conductor George Alexander Albrecht, who headed the orchestra from 1996 to 2002, have left a lasting mark. As General Music Director and Principal Conductor of the Deutsches Nationaltheater and Staatskapelle Weimar, Albrecht was succeeded by Jac van Steen (2002 to 2005), Carl St. Clair (2005 to 2009) and Stefan Solyom (2009 to 2016).
Both in its extensive concert activities and opera productions at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, the Staatskapelle has worked to cultivate its great tradition in combination with innovative aspects. A wide range of CD recordings reflect its impressively diverse repertoire with works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and several contemporary composers.
World-class soloists and conductors perform regularly with the Staatskapelle Weimar which is nationally and internationally renowned as a first-class concert orchestra. In past years, the ensemble has made guest appearances in Japan, Israel, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain and most recently in the United States on a monthlong tour as well as at renowned festivals and major concert halls throughout Germany.