cologne opera

Where To See Opera In Cologne

If you’re a fan of opera and traveling through Cologne, Germany, you’re in luck! The Cologne Opera House is held to be one of the finest opera houses in all of Europe. This architectural wonder has been showcasing incredible performances since its inauguration in 1957.

The Cologne Opera House showcases a variety of performances throughout the season. From timeless classics like Don Giovanni to contemporary productions like Picture a Day Like This, there’s something for everyone.

But the Cologne Opera House isn’t the only place to take in a show in the city. There are other performance venues and private theatres that dabble in opera from time to time.

So, if you’re in Cologne, make sure to set aside an evening to experience the magic of opera at the Cologne Opera House.

Famous Opera Venues in Cologne

Cologne Opera House

If you’re an opera enthusiast, you absolutely have to visit the Cologne Opera House – the center for opera in the city. Designed by the brilliant architect Wilhelm Riphahn, this opera house has been a symbol of pride and culture in Cologne since its inauguration in 1957. The first opera performed at the Cologne Opera House was Carl Maria von Weber’s “Oberon.” Since then, the opera house has hosted a variety of incredible performances, including premieres.

With its substantial seating capacity and large orchestra pit, the Oper Köln has been home to many Baroque operas and fairy-tale operas. The post-war company is also known for taking classic operas and doing some controversial stagings across a spectrum of productions ranges in this modern building.

One of the world’s famous opera houses, this historic venue is perfectly located in an arts complex near the Cologne Playhouse situated off Offenbachplatz. (If you’re interested in architecture, it’s worthy of note that the same architect designed both these major venues in the city.)

Unfortunately, the Cologne Opera House has been undergoing renovations since 2012 with no current re-opening date set. The scandal-plagued Cologne opera renovations have been famously over-budget and taking longer than expected. But Oper Köln, Cologne’s resident opera company, is still in action, using Staatenhaus as an interim venue as the Cologne Opera House wallows in repair.


As the Cologne Opera House is being renovated, the Staatenhaus serves as an alternative location for all the brilliant opera performances and the resident opera company. As an opera lover, you can still enjoy top-notch shows featuring contemporary pieces with effective staging in an impressive setting in the city.

The Staatenhaus stands as a testament to the city’s adaptability and commitment to the arts. Originally built as a storage facility for the Deutz Railway Company in the 1920s, its cavernous spaces and impressive structure would later be repurposed to play a vital role in Cologne’s cultural scene.

After the closure of the Deutz Railway, the building went through several metamorphoses – it became a venue for trade fairs, exhibitions, and even a temporary hall for the Bundesrat. But perhaps its most significant reincarnation has been as an avant-garde performance space.

As the historic Cologne Opera House faced protracted renovations and setbacks, the city’s opera lovers found solace in the Staatenhaus. Adapted as an interim venue for the Oper Köln, the Staatenhaus boasts a distinctive raw aesthetic, with its exposed brickwork and vaulted ceilings, providing a stunning contrast to the elaborate set designs and elegant performances hosted within its walls.

The acoustics, surprisingly good for a building not initially intended for musical performances, combined with the minimalist interior, offer a unique and intimate experience for opera-goers. It’s no wonder that some have grown quite fond of this alternative venue.

While many eagerly anticipate the reopening of the Opera House, the Staatenhaus has proven that, sometimes, unexpected venues can deliver the most memorable experiences. So, whether you’re an opera aficionado or just a curious visitor, the Staatenhaus is a must-visit – a symbol of Cologne’s unwavering dedication to culture and the arts amidst challenges.

Cologne’s Opera History

The Cologne Opera, one of the leading opera houses in Europe, has been a major hub for performing arts since its inauguration on 8 May 1957.

But this wasn’t always the shining jewel of opera performances in the city, with Theater am Habsburger Ring being the first actual theater specifically for opera. The Habsburger Ring opera house was built in 1902.

And like the current opera house, the Theater am Habsburger Ring was designed by the same architect.

In World War II, the Theater am Habsburger Ring was a victim of the bombings in the city. That ended opera stagings at Habsburger Ring.

As you can likely guess, the Cologne Opera has a rich history, having been opened in the presence of then-Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Its premiere performance was Carl Maria von Weber’s Oberon, making it a must-see destination for opera enthusiasts.

Back in the 18th century, it was traveling Italian opera companies who put on entire productions at the Oper der Stadt Köln. Of course, you won’t see any Italian opera companies there today!

With a repertoire that continues to evolve, Oper Köln showcases a mix of classical productions alongside contemporary soundscapes. You might see Ines on Ravel one night and Adámek the next. This opera house has made a name for itself by continuously introducing fresh talent while preserving its esteemed cultural heritage.

So, go ahead and immerse yourself in the captivating world of opera while in Cologne. You won’t be disappointed. Oper Köln is a top-notch opera company, wherever they may play.

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