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Mannheim Court Theatre

Alessandro Galli da Bibiena

alias Nationaltheater
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1742 | opening

(detail)1943 | destroyed



Mannheim, a city important in the history of the German stage. In 1720, when the town became a seat of government, a Court theatre was established in the castle, and between 1737 and 1741 Alessandro Galli da Bibiena built a baroque theatre there, also designing the scenery for it. A garden theatre was built at Schwetzingen in 1752, and also a small open-air theatre, in 1778 Dalberg became director of the newly established National Theatre Mannheim, which under him became one of the foremost theatres in the gantry, particularly when, after Ekhof's death in Gotha later the same year, Ualberg engaged his troupe with Iffland at its head. But Dalberg's greatest service to the German theatre was undoubtedly his support of the young Schiller, whose Die Rauber had its hrst production at Mannheim in 1782, In 1796, partly owing to the rigours of war, the fortunes of the Mannheim theatre declined and the company was disbanded. Little was done until in 1884 J. Werther reopened the old National Theatre. A sudden upsurge in theatrical activity consequent upon this led to the building in 1898 of a small theatre, called the Colos-seum, intended for farce and popular drama. Three years later a larger theatre opened under the name of the Modern Theatre. The National Theatre was completely destroyed in 1943, but reopened in a temporary structure in 1945, moving to a new theatre in 1957, where the post-war repertory has included a wide selection of new European plays as well as German classics.


In: Hartnoll, Phyllis, ed. The concise Oxford companion to the theatre. 1st ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1972.  ISBN 0-19-281102-9. p. 333


Antonio's brother Alessandro built the court theatre at Mannheim in 1742. This had a graceful bell-shaped plan, the second section of seats being set back behind the first, so that the space receded in steps. The boxes themselves were separated in the northern fashion, by low partitions only, and were arranged on the Sighizzi method 'en escalier'. Altogether it was one of the most originally conceived of all the Bibiena theatres. The stage was set well back inside the proscenium arch and had no forestage—signs of the Neoclassical taste that was to come.

In: Tidworth, Simon : Theatres: An Illustrated History. London 1973 p.



Erected in 1742 by Alessandro Galli-Bibiena, the spectacular baroque playhouse, seating over 2,000 spectators, had two significant periods. Under Bibiena it became a leading centre for opera and occasionally for French drama, which was popular at German courts in the eighteenth century; in the 1750s the French plays were personally supervised by Voltaire. Its second notable phase began in 1777, when the director Count von Dalberg renamed it ‘Nationaltheater’ (1779), and assembled a fine acting troupe including Seyler and Iffland, who developed a distinctive realist style conducive to new plays such as Schiller's The Robbers, which was premièred there (1782). The original building was destroyed by Austrian cannon fire in 1795. In 1839 the rebuilt theatre became the first German house to come under municipal administration.


Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/mannheim-court-theatre#ixzz2ezHuM2jj



Authors: Hartnoll Phyllis, Simon Tidworth

Additional information

This article confuses two distinct theatres: the court opera house by Bibiena (1742), adjacent to the castle, destroyed in 1795, and the old Court and National Theatre (address: B3), built 1777 as "Teutsches Komödienhaus" by Loreno Quaglio by converting a former arsenal. The plans and interiors images here are all of the opera house (I think), the three exterior views are all of the national theatre. An image of its auditorium from 1934 can be found here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Altes_Nationaltheater_Mannheim_Zuschauerraum_1934.jpg It was destroyed in World War II. The current Nationaltheater is at yet another site, on the other side of town.

AndreasP - 27.05. 2021

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