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Birgit Jooss

The Kroll Opera in Berlin — connections to Kassel and Dessau

Arnold Bode probably came into contact with the performers of the Berlin Kroll Opera during his time in Berlin through his former teacher, Ewald Dülberg, and his fellow student and friend, Teo Otto. Between 1927 and 1931 it was one of the most modern venues in the Weimar Republic.

The aim was to renew opera as an art form on the basis of a consistent reduction of pictorial forms. Bauhaus artists such as László Moholy-Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer also took part.

Between 1927 and 1931, the Kroll Opera in Berlin was one of the most exciting venues of the Weimar Republic. The conductor Otto Klemperer was appointed in 1926 with the aim of reforming historical music theater and making it the most progressive contact point for a modern audience in the Weimar Republic. Klemperer's declared goal was to renew the opera as an art form on the basis of a consistent reduction of pictorial forms and the adaptation of traditional opera to the new era.

more about the Kroll Opera
Index: Organizations
more about Otto Klemperer
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In almost four years, forty-four works were presented, including premieres of works by Arnold Schönberg, Ernst Krenek, Paul Hindemith, Igor Strawinsky, and Leoš Janáček. Among the directors were Gustaf Gründgens and Hans Curjel, as well as the stage designers Ewald Dülberg, Caspar Neher, László Moholy-Nagy, Teo Otto, Oskar Schlemmer, and Giorgio de Chirico. They developed groundbreaking performances. The unity of work and production, of music and theater, gave rise to a modern opera model that could be used after World War II.

more about Arnold Schönberg
Index: People
more about Ernst Krenek
Index: People
more about Paul Hindemith
Index: People
more about Igor Strawinsky
Index: People
more about Leoš Janáček
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more about Gustaf Gründgens
Index: People
more about Hans Curjel
Index: People
more about Ewald Dülberg
Index: People
more about Caspar Neher
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more about László Moholy-Nagy
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more about Teo Otto
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more about Oskar Schlemmer
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more about Giorgio de Chirico
Index: People

Ewald Dülberg: Stage design for "Fidelio (Beethoven)", Kroll Opera Berlin 1927, Gouache on cardboard, 50 x 71,8 cm
© Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln

Ewald Dülberg: Stage design for "Fidelio (Beethoven)", Kroll Opera Berlin 1927, Gouache on cardboard, 43 x 65 cm
© Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln

Teo Otto: Stage design for "Der Kuss" by Bedřich Smetana, 1927, conductor Alexander Zemlinsky, Kroll Opera Berlin
© Theaterwissenschaftliche Sammlung, Universität zu Köln

Through the Bauhaus masters László Moholy-Nagy and Oskar Schlemmer, the Kroll Opera had connections to the Bauhaus Dessau. But there was also an interesting connection to Kassel. Ewald Dülberg, a former professor at the Kassel Art Academy, and Teo Otto, a fellow student and friend of Arnold Bode, had also found work here. Both had come to Berlin in 1927 after a short period of teaching at the Staatliche Bauhochschule Weimar, the successor to the Bauhaus in Weimar.

Bode must have been connected to Berlin's avant-garde theater scene, which had also taken up Bauhaus ideas, through his former teacher Ewald Dülberg, whom he greatly appreciated, and his friend Otto 7/9. His wife Marlou recalled many years later: "We were young, only just married, and had an insanely large number of friends, many Jews among them, artists and writers, the whole circle around Brecht, Teo Otto.”


But soon the Krolloper was closed. Right-wing parties applied to end the house’s "cultural Bolshevism." The last performance took place on July 3, 1931.

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