History

Opera took such an important role in courtly entertainment that the Elector, Maximilian Joseph III., commissioned his court builder, Francois Cuvilliés the Elder, in the mid-18th Century, to build a completely new opera house. The site of this building, only approachable through the Royal Palace and not easily accessible to the general public, obviated the need to fashion a lavish facade and allowed the architect to concentrate wholly on sumptuous interior decoration.


Only the best and most experienced artisans and artists were permitted to work on the magnificent Rococo auditorium. Anton Pichler carved the wood, the prominent human figures are attributed to Johann Baptist Straub, Joachim Dietrich designed the ornamental decorations, and, the then doyen old master, Johann Baptist Zimmermann, painted the frescoes.


The foundation stone was laid in 1751 and, astonishingly, the new opera house in the Residenz was christened and officially opened on October 12th, 1753, with a performance of Ferrandini's opera seria Catone in Utica. Performances of Italian opera in the Cuvilliés Theatre were originally intended only for the court and its courtiers. When the old opera house in Salvatorplatz was demolished, however, the Elector made the Cuvilliés Theatre accessible to a wider public for performances.The theatre had an unbroken perfroming tradition, with only a few pauses, until 1944. At that time, in order to protect the invaluable theatre from allied bombs, the entire interior was removed and taken to two sites outside Munich for safe keeping and storage.1944 bombs destroyed the exterior walls of the house. After the war the new Residenz Thatre (now home to the Bavarian state Drama Theatre Company) was built upon the Cuvilliés foundations. the old Cuvilliés Theatre, without its exterior walls, was reassmbledin the Apothecary's court of the Palace, in its original rococo style bwithout any alterations.


1944 bombs destroyed the exterior walls of the house. After the war the new Residenz Thatre (now home to the Bavarian state Drama Theatre Company) was built upon the Cuvilliés foundations. the old Cuvilliés Theatre, without its exterior walls, was reassmbledin the Apothecary's court of the Palace, in its original rococo style bwithout any alterations.