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.