Munich’s Cuvilliés Theater: A Stronghold of Metastasian Opera Turned into a Labora­to­ry of Mozart’s Musical Theater

by Karl Böhmer (2021)

Cuvilliés Theatre, Munich

The Cuvilliés Theater (so called after its architect, François Cuvilliés the Elder) in the Munich Residenz, the palace of the music-loving Bavarian Elector Carl Theodor, was the site of the premiere of Mozart’s opera Idomeneo in January of 1781. In this generously illustrated study, musicologist Karl Böhmer explains just how unusual the lavish spectacle of Mozart’s opera was, given the elector’s prior predilection for traditional Metastasian dramma per musica, and vividly demonstrates how performers and audiences for these very different types of opera would have interacted with the building itself. Böhmer also recounts the vicissitudes of the theater, from its construction in the early 1750s through subsequent alterations, the evacuation of its auditorium’s sumptuous rococo décor in anticipation of Allied bombing raids in World War II, and the theater’s post-war reconstruction on a different site within the Residenz.

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