The Komische Oper Berlin is an Opera Company based in Berlin. The company produces opera, operetta and musicals.
The opera house is located on Behrenstraße, just a few steps from Unter den Linden. Since 2004 the Komische Oper Berlin became a member of the Berlin Opera Foundation along with the Berlin State Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Berlin State Ballet and the Bühnenservice Berlin (Stage and Costume Design).
The theatre was built between 1891 and 1892 by architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer for a private society. It first opened as "Theater Unter den Linden" with Adolf Ferron's operetta Daphne and Gaul and Haßreiter's ballet Die Welt in Bild und Tanz.
The theatre was primarily a vehicle for operetta, but was also used for various other events and balls. Around 800 people could be seated in the stalls, and the balconies and various en-suite dinner rooms housed about a further 1,700 seats. Its directors went bankrupt in 1896 and the theatre was forced to close its doors.
On 3 September 1898 the theatre was reopened as Metropol-Theater with Julius Freund's revue Paradies der Frauen. It then grew to become one of Berlin's most famous and successful variety theatres. During the 1920s and early 1930s, it was leased by the brothers Alfred and Fritz Rotter. Under their management, it saw the premieres of two operettas by Franz Lehár - Friederike in 1928 and Das Land des Lächelns in 1929, both starring Richard Tauber. However, due to a decline of variety and music hall entertainment the theatre was again closed in 1933.
In 1934 the theatre was nationalised and renamed Staatliches Operettentheater. It operated as part of the Nazi Kraft durch Freude entertainment and leisure programmes. During World War II, the auditorium was damaged by Allied bombing on 7 May 1944. The façade, entrance hall, and auditorium ceiling murals were destroyed by bombs on 9 March 1945.
After the war, the theatre was in East Germany. Following repair works and provisional rebuilding, the theatre reopened on 23 December 1947, as the Komische Oper with Johann Strauss's operetta Die Fledermaus.
The 1950s saw various further alterations and extensions. The theatre was completely rebuilt in 1965/1966 by Architektenkollektiv Kunz Nierade, adding functional extensions and giving the theatre a completely new exterior. The theatre reopened again on 4 December 1966, with Mozart's Don Giovanni. The auditorium underwent further restoration in 1986, and the stage technology was further modernised by 1989. Today the theatre seats 1,270.
In 1947, Walter Felsenstein founded and led the resident opera company, the Komische Oper, until his death in 1975. Götz Friedrich was an assistant to Felsenstein at the company. Joachim Herz became general director after Felsenstein's death and served until 1981. Subsequently, Harry Kupfer directed the company for 21 seasons, until 2002. The company specializes in German language productions of opera, operetta and musicals. In 2007 the company won, jointly with Oper Bremen, the "Opera house of the year" award by the German magazine Opernwelt. From 2002 to 2012, the company's chief director and Intendant was Andreas Homoki. In June 2008, the company announced the appointment of Barrie Kosky to succeed Homoki as its next Intendant, as of the 2012/2013 season. In October 2014, his contract with the company was extended through 2022. Since 2005, the company's managing director has been Susanne Moser.
Past General Music Directors (GMD) of the company have included Kurt Masur, Rolf Reuter, Yakov Kreizberg, Kirill Petrenko, Carl St.Clair, and Patrick Lange. Ainārs Rubiķis has been GMD from the 2018-2019 season, with an initial contract of 3 seasons.