A specific legal structure and an international reputation
The Opéra national du Rhin is jointly run by the cities of, Strasbourg, Mulhouse and Colmar and comprises three parts: the Opera in Strasbourg, the company's ballet (which has been a national centre of choreography since 1985) in Mulhouse, and the Opéra Studio training centre for young singers in Colmar.
A centrepiece of French cultural life, the Opéra national du Rhin was awarded the status of "National Opera" in 1997. It gives over 200 performances every year, attracting a total audience of over 100,000. 27% of the audience is under 26 years old, while 21% come from outside France. The Opera's cultural action policy encourages people who would normally find themselves excluded from cultural programs.
Strasbourg only got its own theatre in the early 19th century, previous to which plays in French used to be given in an old oat store, while German drama was staged in the Poêle des Drapiers.
The new theatre was designed in 1804 by architect Jean Villot and an engineer called Robin, but was not finished until 1821. Located in the easternmost tip of place Broglie, the building, with its functional, sober silhouette, followed the same monumental neoclassic tradition as many other French theatres, and had a typically majestic portico with six ionic columns. Landolin Ohmacht's six muses, Euterpe, Clio, Thalia, Melpomene, Erato and Terpsichore, stood atop the portico.
The building featured an Italian style horseshoe-shaped auditorium, with walls decorated in red and gold and interspersed with cherubs.
Gutted in 1870, rebuilt in 1873
After the building was destroyed by bombardments in 1870, it was restored in 1873. Its eastern facade, facing the Kaiserplatz, was redesigned to make it fit for its new role as the focal point of the new Wilhelmian city planning scheme. The structure boasted a series of ionic half columns and was decorated with carved masks. The circular design was topped by a semi-cupola, similar to those to be found on the monumental buildings within the Kaiserplatz.