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It seems hard to believe but the Alte Oper, one of the most striking buildings in Frankfurt am Main, almost didn’t survive World War II. An air raid by the Allied forces left the building from 1880 in ruins. The opera companies in town had already found another home for their performances.
The Carmina Burana, a piece of music that stirs people’s imagination around the world, was first performed by Carl Orff at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt in 1937. It was also one of the last premiers in the neo-Renaissance building as it was almost completely destroyed in 1944. But the citizens rallied to save it and raised 15 million Deutsch Mark to reconstruct the building. Today the Alte Oper hosts festivals, concerts and conferences.
Behind the restored façade of the former opera house are 2 concert halls, both internationally renowned for their acoustics. The large hall is one of Germany’s best concert halls for classical music, where top orchestras such as the Concertgebouw Orchestra from Amsterdam and the British Academy of St Martin in the Fields perform. The more compact Mozart hall is frequently the stage for special jazz performances and modern music concerts. In summer and during the Christmas period you can also attend special music productions. Enjoy a dinner at the in-house restaurant Opéra before or after a performance.
Although there are no opera performances in the Alte Oper, the opera ambiance can still be found here. Every year, during the second half of June, the square in front of the imposing building hosts the Opernplatzfest. For a week, the square is packed with dozens of food and drink stands, and various cultural performances and events associated with the rich music history of the building take place here. On sultry summer evenings, the Opernplatzfest draws thousands of spectators.
“The Alte Oper is the magnificent meeting point of culture lovers in and around Frankfurt”
Today, the Alte Oper is closely associated with the European Central Bank. This European ‘mother bank’ was founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1998 and since then the bank regularly rents the elegant building for major official events ─ in 2008 to celebrate the bank’s 10th anniversary, for example. Occasionally the Alte Oper feels like a second head-office of the European Central Bank.