The Kroll Opera House was an opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 building in Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, located in the central Tiergarten
Tiergarten is a locality within the borough of Mitte, in central Berlin . Notable for the great and homonymous urban park, before German reunification, it was a part of West Berlin...

 district on the western edge of the Königsplatz square (today Platz der Republik), facing the Reichstag building
Reichstag (building)
The Reichstag building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. During the Nazi era, the few meetings of members of the...

. It was built in 1844 as an entertainment venue for the restaurant owner Joseph Kroll. During its eventful history it was redeveloped as an opera house in 1851 and was used by various owners and directors for opera, operetta and drama. It was later operated by the Prussian state opera and drama companies and served as the assembly hall of the German Reichstag
Reichstag (Weimar Republic)
The Reichstag was the parliament of Weimar Republic .German constitution commentators consider only the Reichstag and now the Bundestag the German parliament. Another organ deals with legislation too: in 1867-1918 the Bundesrat, in 1919–1933 the Reichsrat and from 1949 on the Bundesrat...

 parliament from 1933. Severely damaged by bombing and the Battle of Berlin
Battle of Berlin
The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, was the final major offensive of the European Theatre of World War II....

 in World War II, it was finally demolished in 1951.

1842-1848: Early years

The Kroll story began in the Silesian capital Breslau, where the entrepreneur Joseph Kroll (1797-1848) had opened the “Kroll Winter Garden” in 1837. The Breslau authorities chose this reputable establishment to entertain the new Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 king Frederick William IV
Frederick William IV of Prussia
|align=right|Upon his accession, he toned down the reactionary policies enacted by his father, easing press censorship and promising to enact a constitution at some point, but he refused to enact a popular legislative assembly, preferring to work with the aristocracy through "united committees" of...

 when he visited the city in 1841. The king was impressed by the splendid, flower-decorated rooms and suggested that something similar should be initiated in Berlin to become the social hub for the nobility in the Prussian residence.
After a consultation with his garden director, Peter Joseph Lenné
Peter Joseph Lenné
Peter Joseph Lenné was a Prussian gardener and landscape architect from Bonn who worked in the German classicist style.-Childhood and development:...

 and other members of the government, the king presented an order from the cabinet dated 19 August 1842, which specified the building site on the west side of the parade ground in the Großer Tiergarten
Großer Tiergarten
The Großer Tiergarten, simply known as Tiergarten, is an urban public park of Germany located in the middle of Berlin, completely in the homonymous locality...

 park, and laid out the conditions: Kroll was able to use the property without charge, but he would have to return the land and demolish any structures he had built if the project failed. The parade ground, which had stood since 1730, was outside of the city just to the north west of the Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate and one of the most well-known landmarks of Berlin and Germany. It is located west of the city centre at the junction of Unter den Linden and Ebertstraße, immediately west of the Pariser Platz. It is the only remaining gate of a series through which...

. It had long degenerated into a sandy field, and the Berliners therefore derisively called it the “Sahara”. Every step on the sandy ground would kick up a cloud of dust on the square. When it rained, the soil would turn into a mass of dirty mud. Yet Kroll took solace in the fact that the greenery of the Tiergarten park lay just beyond the property.

The plans for the new building came from the court architect Friedrich Ludwig Persius, which was a good indicator of the significance that the project had for Frederick William IV, co-working with Carl Ferdinand Langhans
Carl Ferdinand Langhans
Carl Ferdinand Langhans was a Prussian architect with a special interest in theatre architecture.Born in Breslau, Silesia, Langhans was the son of the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans....

 and Eduard Knoblauch
Eduard Knoblauch
Eduard Knoblauch was a German architect.Eduard Knoblauch was born in his family's house on Poststraße 23 in the Nikolaiviertel neighborhood in Berlin, Germany...

. After a construction period of only ten months, Kroll’s enterprise opened on 15 February 1844. Forty waiters were to serve up to five thousand guests in the three halls (the main hall, also referred to as the King’s Hall, and two smaller halls), thirteen boxes for at least thirteen people each, and fourteen large rooms (for smaller parties). Sixty musicians provided entertainment. The “Tunnel” was a special attraction and praised as a novelty for Berlin – a hall where one could smoke! A technical innovation was the newly implemented gas lighting, which “consisted of 400 flames”.

During the first year Kroll had satisfactory results. The main attractions were the large exhibitions, concerts and balls, which took place around lavishly constructed stage sets, attracting even the "Waltz King" Johann Strauss Jr.
Johann Strauss II
Johann Strauss II , also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son , was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas...

 and his orchestra, who guested at Kroll's in 1845. Yet despite its uniqueness in Germany, as noted by the critics, the enterprise became increasingly difficult to sustain. On 15 April 1848, on his deathbed, Kroll regretted that his king had once had breakfast with him."1

1848-1894: Between success and bankruptcy

Joseph Kroll’s successor was his eldest daughter, Auguste. The “National People’s Garden” was opened as soon as May 1848 as part of an expansion. Great attractions were offered first in the garden and later in the great hall, such as performances with wild animals by their tamers
Lion taming
Lion taming is the practice of taming lions, either for protection, whereby the practice was probably created, or, more commonly, entertainment, particularly in the circus. The term is also often used for the taming and display of other big cats such as tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and pumas...

 and an extensive trade fair in 1849. In 1850 Auguste Kroll established a permanent summer theatre with open-air performances of operas and other events. Here, among others, Auguste's protégé Albert Lortzing
Albert Lortzing
Gustav Albert Lortzing was a German composer, actor and singer. He is considered to be the main representative of the German Spieloper, a form similar to the French opéra comique, which grew out of the Singspiel.-Biography:Lortzing was born in Berlin to Johann Gottlieb Lortzing and Charlotte Sophie...

 directed his operas Undine
Undine (Lortzing)
Undine is an opera in four acts by Albert Lortzing. The German libretto was by the composer after Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué's story of the same name....

, Der Waffenschmied (The Armourer) and Zar und Zimmermann
Zar und Zimmermann
Zar und Zimmermann is an opera in three acts, music by Albert Lortzing, libretto by the composer after Georg Christian Römer's Der Bürgermeister on Saarlem, oder Die zwei Peter, itself based on a French work entitled Le Bourgesmestre de Sardam, ou Les deux Pierres by Anne-Honoré-Joseph Duveyrier...


The operation of the new Theatre and Opera Company was suddenly disrupted on 1 February 1851, when the curtains were accidentally set on fire while lamps were being lit. But Auguste Kroll didn’t let that stop her; she encashed the fire insurance sum and on 24 February 1852, the theatre already reopened in a completely new building. About a year later, Auguste married her capellmeister, the Hungarian violinist, conductor and businessman Jakob Engel. They successfully expanded the “Kroll Opera Pool” and brought many new comic opera
Comic opera
Comic opera denotes a sung dramatic work of a light or comic nature, usually with a happy ending.Forms of comic opera first developed in late 17th-century Italy. By the 1730s, a new operatic genre, opera buffa, emerged as an alternative to opera seria...

s to the stage, but also enacted lengthy music dramas by Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

. But the couple could not prevent the business from closing its doors on 1 April 1855. Despite all efforts, the earnings were far beneath the costs of operation.

One of the creditors, the entrepreneur Heinrich Bergmann, took over the insolvent operation and brought in such luminaries as Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach
Jacques Offenbach was a Prussian-born French composer, cellist and impresario. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr....

 for one of his first guest appearances in Berlin. In 1862 however, “Kroll” was again forced into auction, which enabled Jakob Engel to buy it back. Although the company was still weighed down by debt, Engel was beaming with optimism, and attempted to bring the Berliners back into his establishment in droves with a diverse program – albeit only with moderate success. The situation worsened in 1869, when the implementation of economic freedom in Prussia led to a boom of newly established amusement parks all over Berlin.

Engel’s attempts to sell failed because of the Prussian tax authority and the heavy mortgage that weighed down the business. In addition, the former parade ground had been refurbished and named Königsplatz (King’s Square”) by 18 December 1864, the gardens were redone, and later plans were made for a series of monuments to honour the Prussian victories from 1864-71. After the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 the Victory Column
Berlin Victory Column
The Victory Column is a monument in Berlin, Germany. Designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War, by the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873, Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War and France in the...

 was solemnly unveiled in the middle of the square on 2 September 1873, while at the same time a long discussion took place at the German Reichstag
Reichstag (German Empire)
The Reichstag was the parliament of the North German Confederation , and of the German Reich ....

 diet about whether to tear down the Kroll establishment and build a new parliamentary building in its place. Only in 1876 did these proposals, which were so detrimental to any future investments, get tossed out, so that Jakob Engel was able to proceed with the modernization and improvement of his establishment. In 1885 – the first time in Berlin – the old gas lighting was therefore replaced by the “Edison
Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. In addition, he created the world’s first industrial...

 system” of electric lighting. Two years later, Engel was also able to secure a contract extension for another forty years, but he ran out of time to implement his plans. He died unexpectedly from a stroke on 28 June 1888. His son tried to continue his work, but the “lack of interest from the Berlin public” for the Kroll stage’s artistic presentation forced him to sell in 1894."

1895-1931: State opera

Shortly afterwards the building was acquired by the Prussian Königliche Schauspiele royal theatre company and Kroll's establishment was rebuilt as the Neues Königliches Operntheater, a second theatre beside the Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Berlin State Opera
The Staatsoper Unter den Linden is a German opera company. Its permanent home is the opera house on the Unter den Linden boulevard in the Mitte district of Berlin, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra.-Early years:...

. Works by young composers like Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky
Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky ; 6 April 1971) was a Russian, later naturalized French, and then naturalized American composer, pianist, and conductor....

 and Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler
Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

 were performed here, but also popular concerts given by Enrico Caruso and operetta
Operetta is a genre of light opera, light in terms both of music and subject matter. It is also closely related, in English-language works, to forms of musical theatre.-Origins:...

s like Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus
Die Fledermaus is an operetta composed by Johann Strauss II to a German libretto by Karl Haffner and Richard Genée.- Literary sources :...

. As the decent opera house Unter den Linden did not match with Emperor Wilhelm's attitudes, plans for a new luxuriant opera hall at the site of the Krolloper were developed and demolition had already started in 1914, when the outbreak of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 halted the construction works.

After the war the authorities of the Free State of Prussia were unable to finance the reconstruction, which was finally carried out by the Volksbühne
The Volksbühne is a theater in Berlin, Germany. Located in Berlin's city center Mitte on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in what was the GDR's capital....

 theatre company according to the plans of a Volksoper ("People's Opera") designed by Oskar Kaufmann
Oskar Kaufmann
Oskar Kaufmann was an Hungarian-Jewish architect...

. Nevertheless it appeared that the Volksbühne company also had overextended itself and the completion of the refurbishment had to be secured by public funds. On 1 January 1924 the building was re-opened again as the Oper am Königsplatz, the second home of the Berlin State Opera, with Erich Kleiber
Erich Kleiber
Erich Kleiber was an Austrian conductor.- Biography :Born in Vienna, Kleiber studied in Prague...

 conducting Wagner's Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is an opera in three acts, written and composed by Richard Wagner. It is among the longest operas still commonly performed today, usually taking around four and a half hours. It was first performed at the Königliches Hof- und National-Theater in Munich, on June 21,...

. With the square, the house was renamed Staatsoper am Platz der Republik in 1926. To Berliners it remained known as the Krolloper.

In 1927 the Kroll Opera was again detached from the Staatsoper Unter den Linder as a separate opera company with Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer
Otto Klemperer was a German conductor and composer. He is widely regarded as one of the leading conductors of the 20th century.-Biography:Otto Klemperer was born in Breslau, Silesia Province, then in Germany...

 as its resident conductor, re-opened on 19 November with Beethoven's Fidelio
Fidelio is a German opera in two acts by Ludwig van Beethoven. It is Beethoven's only opera. The German libretto is by Joseph Sonnleithner from the French of Jean-Nicolas Bouilly which had been used for the 1798 opera Léonore, ou L’amour conjugal by Pierre Gaveaux, and for the 1804 opera Leonora...

. During Klemperer's term the house saw world premières as Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith was a German composer, violist, violinist, teacher, music theorist and conductor.- Biography :Born in Hanau, near Frankfurt, Hindemith was taught the violin as a child...

's Neues vom Tage
Neues vom Tage
Neues vom Tage is an opera in three parts by Paul Hindemith, with a German libretto by Marcellus Schiffer....

in 1929 and Arnold Schönberg
Arnold Schoenberg
Arnold Schoenberg was an Austrian composer, associated with the expressionist movement in German poetry and art, and leader of the Second Viennese School...

's Begleitmusik zu einer Lichtspielszene in 1930. He worked with renowned conductors like Alexander von Zemlinsky
Alexander von Zemlinsky
Alexander Zemlinsky or Alexander von Zemlinsky was an Austrian composer, conductor, and teacher.-Early life:...

 and directors like Gustaf Gründgens
Gustaf Gründgens
Gustaf Gründgens , born Gustav Heinrich Arnold Gründgens, was one of Germany's most famous and influential actors of the 20th century, intendant and artistic director of theatres in Berlin, Düsseldorf, and Hamburg...

, as well as Caspar Neher
Caspar Neher
Caspar Neher was an Austrian-German scenographer and librettist, known principally for his career-long working relationship with Bertolt Brecht.Neher was born in Augsburg...

, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy
László Moholy-Nagy was a Hungarian painter and photographer as well as professor in the Bauhaus school. He was highly influenced by constructivism and a strong advocate of the integration of technology and industry into the arts.-Early life:...

, Teo Otto
Teo Otto
Teo Otto was a Swiss stage designer. He trained in Kassel and Paris and in 1926 taught at the Bauhaus in Weimar. In 1928 he became an assistant at the Berlin Staatsoper...

, Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer
Oskar Schlemmer was a German painter, sculptor, designer and choreographer associated with the Bauhaus school. In 1923 he was hired as Master of Form at the Bauhaus theatre workshop, after working some time at the workshop of sculpture...

 und Giorgio de Chirico
Giorgio de Chirico
Giorgio de Chirico was a pre-Surrealist and then Surrealist Italian painter born in Volos, Greece, to a Genovese mother and a Sicilian father. He founded the scuola metafisica art movement...

 as stage designers. The entire singing cast was placed in the hands of the singing pedagogue, Professor Frederick Husler In an interview on German radio Husler talks about the special atmosphere which existed at the opera house during this period. He mentions some of the singers who were engaged at the time: "Jarmilla Novotna, who later went to New York to the Metropolitan Opera. Or Kaethe Haidersbach. She became very famous as Evchen in “Meistersinger” in Bayreuth. Or Maria Schult-Stormburg and Moie Vorbach, two very distinct personalities. They went to the other house Unter den Linden later. And a very impressive personality: Iso Golland, the Russian. He returned to Russia and has become a highly respected pedagogue." He describes the generosity which existed among the singers: "Their comradeship was extraordinary. No intrigues would arise. I remember that before rehearsals for a performance of “Die Verkaufte Braut” three “Brides” were sitting in my room. Novotna, Haidersbach and Zaezilie Reich. I remember them discussing, absolutely unselfishly, who of them should sing. Haidersbach said Novotna was the original Czech. Novotna said that Haidersbach had the more suitable lyric voice, whereas she herself was a coloratura soprano. And Reich then put forward an argument (and against herself) the benefit of the whole group. Where could you find such a thing?"

Klemperer's performances and their modern mise-en-scène were ahead of their time and raised the opposition by conservative circles. In the highly charged political atmosphere during the late days of the Weimar Republic
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, public pressure made the general administrator of the Prussian state theatres Heinz Tietjen
Heinz Tietjen
Heinz Tietjen was a German conductor and music producer born in Tangier, Morocco.- Biography :At age twenty-three, he held the position of producer at the Opera House in Trier and was appointed its director in 1907, holding the dual roles until 1922...

 realize, that the administration could not afford the funding of three opera houses in Berlin. Despite Klemperer's protests, the Krolloper was finally closed on 3 July 1931 with the last performance of Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro
The Marriage of Figaro
Le nozze di Figaro, ossia la folle giornata , K. 492, is an opera buffa composed in 1786 in four acts by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with Italian libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, based on a stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais, La folle journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro .Although the play by...


1933-1951: Seat of the Reichstag and destruction

The building stood empty for nearly two years, until the Reichstag fire
Reichstag fire
The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The event is seen as pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany....

 on 27 February 1933 severely damaged the Reichstag building vis-à-vis. After the German federal election on 5 March 1933, the Krolloper became the seat of the Reichstag parliament, by then under the control of the Nazi Party. It was chosen both because of its convenient location and for its seating capacity. On 23 March 1933, the majority of the Reichstag delegates in the Kroll Opera House disempowered themselves passing the "Enabling act
Enabling act
An enabling act is a piece of legislation by which a legislative body grants an entity which depends on it for authorization or legitimacy the power to take certain actions. For example, enabling acts often establish government agencies to carry out specific government policies in a modern nation...

" that gave Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 virtually unlimited authority. At this time the elected MPs of the Communist Party
Communist Party of Germany
The Communist Party of Germany was a major political party in Germany between 1918 and 1933, and a minor party in West Germany in the postwar period until it was banned in 1956...

 and several Social Democrats
Social Democratic Party of Germany
The Social Democratic Party of Germany is a social-democratic political party in Germany...

 were already in hiding or arrested. After the "election" on 12 November 1933 the Nazis occupied all seats.

The main hall of the Krolloper was used for sittings of the Reichstag throughout the Nazi regime, nevertheless the deputies did in no way act as a parliament and met intermittently only to serve as the audience of Hitler's set piece speeches. It was here that Hitler made a speech on 30 January 1939 of his plans for the Holocaust: "if the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevizing of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

The last session of the Reichstag was held in the Kroll Opera House on 26 April 1942, passing a decree proclaiming Hitler "Supreme Judge of the German People," allowing him to override the judiciary and administration in all matters. In these last days, the building once again was the site of several performances of the Berlin State Opera, after the house Unter den Linden had been damaged by air raids. However, the Krolloper itself was devastated by a RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command
RAF Bomber Command controlled the RAF's bomber forces from 1936 to 1968. During World War II the command destroyed a significant proportion of Nazi Germany's industries and many German cities, and in the 1960s stood at the peak of its postwar military power with the V bombers and a supplemental...

 attack on 22 November 1943. It was further damaged in the last days of World War II, when forces of the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 stormed the Reichstag ruin.

However, already in the summer of 1945 a restaurant re-opened in the gardens of Kroll's establishment, keeping up business even after the remains of the building were demolished in 1951. The Kroll-Garten inn finally closed in 1956 and one year later the last premises were cleared. Today the site is nothing but a large lawn south of the Bundeskanzleramt
German Chancellery
The German Chancellery is a federal agency serving the executive office of the Chancellor, the head of the German federal government. The chief of the Chancellery holds the rank of either a Secretary of State or a Federal Minister ...

, since 2007 marked by a memorial plaque.

External link

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.