Since its inauguration in 1957, the Cologne Opera has repeatedly established its place in the international opera scene. In its early years, the Cologne Opera staged productions by local artists, such as »Oberon« with Leonie Rysanek and Karl Liebl and the premiere of Wolfgang Fortner’s »Blood Wedding«, amongst others. In addition, the Cologne Opera enjoyed performances by such revered guests as the Milanese Teatro alla Scala with Maria Callas and ballets by the Paris Opera. With Oscar Fritz Schuh as director and Wolfgang Sawallisch as General Music Director from 1959 – 1964, the Cologne Opera performed numerous ambitious productions, such as Richard Wagner’s »The Ring of the Nibelungen« under the direction of Wieland Wagner.
Ever since, a distinguished ensemble cast with guest performances by renowned singers has been a defining characteristic of house productions. Since 1962, the Cologne Opera has directed the International Opera Studio, the oldest institution for developing young operatic talent in the German-speaking world, giving rise to numerous singing careers in the process, such as those of Anne Schwanewilms, Helen Donath and Matthias Klink.
Currently, the Cologne Opera houses world-class music theater productions, which are topical, relevant and innovative. Under the direction of current director Dr. Birgit Meyer, the Cologne Opera is dedicated to being an open opera house for the citizens of Cologne and thanks to its storied traditions sees itself as a young and international opera house. Not least due to important world and German premieres of contemporary works such as »The Dead City« (Erich Wolfgang Korngold, 1920), »The Dwarf« (Alexander von Zemlinskij, 1922), »Blood Wedding« (Wolfgang Fortner, 1957), »The Soldiers« (Bernd Alois Zimmermann, 1965) as well as »SUNDAY« of »LIGHT« (Karlheinz Stockhausen, 2011) and »Solaris« (Detlev Glanert, 2014), the cathedral city Cologne has always been associated with strong artistic impulses that are intertwined with current events. An international jury of critics by trade journal »Opernwelt« awarded the Cologne Opera the esteemed title of »Opera House of the Year« for its work in 2012. Furthermore, the Cologne Opera has recently been honored with guest performances in China, Iraq and Oman, and is a highly sought-after co-production partner for world-renown events, such as the Salzburg Festival and the Bregenz Festival.