Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Curd Jürgens

Bayerische Staatsoper Opera House_Felix_Loechner_7fc52cb999

During the Third Reich, Munich was slated to get another opera house. With Clemens Krauss, who served in the joint capacity of general manager and general music director, Munich was able to develop even further despite oppression and war. Clemens Krauss supplied highlights both in his career and in the history of the National Theatre with the world premières of three works by his friend Richard Strauss, three fantastic anachronisms which nevertheless became artistic reality: Friedenstag in 1938, Verklungene Feste in 1941, and Capriccio in 1942. During an Allied bombardment in the night of October 3 / 4, the National Theatre was turned into an eerie ruin. Further damage and destruction as well as the proclamation of ‘total war’ silenced the State Opera for a while.

Her Highness The Begum Aga Khan III and actor Curd Jürgens at the Munich Opera in 1963.

Her Highness Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan at the Gala Premiere of the reconstructed München Opera House, Germany, with good friends Curd Jürgens and his wife Simone Bicheron, November 23, 1963.  (pictures by C.P.H. van Heulen) (pictures from private collection).

The arduous tasks of restoring the theatre to life were assumed by General Manager Georg Hartmann and his General Music Director Georg Solti. After they had successfully introduced works by Paul Hindemith and Heinrich Sutermeister, and Werner Egk had established himself in 1948 with his Faust ballet Abraxas, Hartmann and Solti put on the first post-war Munich Opera Festival in 1950, creating on a firm foundation to pass on to their successors.

1160634Her Highness Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

Rudolf Hartmann served as general manager for fifteen years from 1952 to 1967, working side-by-side with general music directors Rudolf Kempe, Ferenc Fricsay and Joseph Keilberth. Two significant events occurred during the Hartmann era: the return to the restored Cuvilliés Theatre with Le nozze di Figaro in 1958 and the reopening of the National Theatre on November 21, 1963. With the aid of the ‘Friends of the National Theatre’ it rose in old classicistic glory like a phoenix from the ashes in accordance the plans of Gerhard Graubner and Karl Fischer.

1161055 (3)Her Highness Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and and Curd Jürgens

Begum Om Habibeh Aga KhanHer Highness Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Curd Jürgens

1160846Her Highness Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan and Simone Bicheron wife of Curd Jürgens