Latvian National Opera (Riga)

Latvian National Opera (Riga)


Vingrotāju iela  Map


Description of Latvian National Opera of Riga

Latvian National Opera (Riga)  Latvian National Opera (Riga)

Latvian National Opera and Ballet (LNOB) is a repertory opera house at 3 Aspazijas Bulvar, Riga. The repertoire includes opera and ballet performances, which are shown in season (from mid-September to the end of May). Almost 200 performances are presented at LNOB during one season, and an average of 6 new productions are prepared. The Great Hall has 946 seats, the New Hall has 250 to 300 seats. It employs more than 600 full-time employees: 28 opera soloists, 105 orchestra musicians, 62 choral artists and 70 ballet troupe members. The building is located in the greenery of the canalside of the center of Riga.

Since November 5, 2019, the chairman of the board of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet is Egils Siliņš.



The building of the 1st city (German) theater of Riga was built in 1860-1863. in 2010 according to the project of the architect Ludvig Bonštet (1822-1885), in the place where one of the elements of the Riga fortification system - Pankūku Bastion - used to be located. It is a Hellenized classicist building, the most luxurious north-eastern facade of which is decorated with a portico of Ionic columns and a group of allegorical figures (Apollo, symbols of tragedy and comedy, the genius of drama, etc.).



The beginnings of the Latvian National Opera and Ballet can be traced back to 1782, when the Rigaer Stadttheater, built according to Haberland's project, with 500 seats and also called the House of Muses, was opened. Its director, Otto Hermann von Fettinghoff-Schel, maintained the large symphony orchestra of 24 musicians at his own expense. Konrāds Feige was invited as concertmaster and conductor of concerts and operas, who staged performances not only in Riga, but also in St. Petersburg, Rävele and Türbat. When Füttinghoff moved to Petersburg in 1788, actor Meierer became the director of the House of Muses. In 1815, the Musse Society (die Gesellschaft der Musse) bought the building from the Fittinghof family. In 1837-1839, the conductor of the theater was Rihards Wagner.

1860—1863. built a new Riga City Theater building with almost 2,000 audience seats in 2011, which was opened with productions of Friedrich Schiller's "Wallenstein Camp" and Ludwig van Beethoven's "Fidelio". On June 14, 1882, the Riga City Theater burned down, only the outer walls remained. 1882—1887. In 2010, the building burned down in a fire was restored according to the project of the city architect Reinhold Schmeling. During the First World War, the theater was closed to the German troupe. Until 1915, the theater premises were used by the Riga Imperial Music School for its concerts. 1916/1917 Angarov and Rudin's Russian dramatic troupe performed in the theater in the season of 2008. On September 29, 1917, the German City Theater of Riga (Deutsches Stadt-Theater in Riga) was reopened, the last performance of the German troupe in these premises took place on January 1, 1919; On the afternoon of January 2, the opera annex, which was completely restored in 1922, burned down.

After the LSPR government took over, by the order of Andrejas Upīš, the head of the art department of the Education Commissariat, on January 23, 1919, the Latvian Opera collective moved to the building of the Riga German City Theater: on that day, "The Wandering Dutchman" was performed in the new premises on January 15, 1918. October production (Teodors Reiters, chief conductor of the Latvian Opera from September 1918 and director from January 1919, who was interested in the issue of wider spaces, worked in the Soviet Latvian Commissariat of Education as the head of the Music Sub-Department). On February 9, by the decree of the government of Pēteras Stučkas, the Latvian Opera, maintained on a cooperative basis, was nationalized and declared the Soviet Opera of Latvia, ensuring regular funding from the state budget.

After the expulsion of P. Stučka's government on May 22, 1919, the troupe returned to the name "Latvian Opera" and was assigned to the Southern Latvian Brigade. On the other hand, after the conclusion of the truce in Strazdumuiža on August 15, both city theaters were requisitioned. On September 23, 1919, at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia, the "Regulations on the National Opera" were adopted. The troupe again, as in Soviet times, had a legally guaranteed theater building, the status of a national opera, and state funding. On December 2, a production of Richard Wagner's opera "Tannheiser" was performed at the newly founded Latvian National Opera (its premiere in Latvian, directed by Dmitrijs Arbenins and staged by Jānis Kuga, conducted by conductor Teodors Reiter, took place already on May 10, 1919 at the Soviet Latvian Opera). Until the end of the 1930s, it was customary to celebrate December 2 as the birthday of the Latvian National Opera, during the LPSR the establishment of the opera was celebrated on January 23. The 90th anniversary concert of the LNO troupe took place on December 22, 2009, while the centenary was celebrated with two jubilee concerts "Mūsu operai 100" on November 16 and 17, 2018.

From 1920 to 1940, the Latvian National Opera was the center of Riga's musical life. Every year it presented up to 8 new productions of operas, from December 1, 1922, ballet performances also began with Peter Ludwig Hertel's ballet "The Vain Attention". Over 20 years, more than 300 performances were held, with an average of 220,000 spectators per year.

In 1940, when the Soviet Union occupied Latvia, the name of the opera theater was changed to "Latvian SSR State Opera and Ballet Theatre". During the following 3-year Nazi German occupation (1941-1944), it was called the Riga Opera Theater, after which the name of 1940 was returned again. On April 24, 1989, the Latvian National Opera celebrated its 70th anniversary and returned to the name used in the interwar period.

The 1990 season closed with the performance of Giuseppe Verdi's "Masquerade Balls" and the reconstruction of the building began, which was completed in 1995. The opera troupe returned to its stage with the production of Jānis Mediņš's opera "Fire and Night". In 2001, the building of the extension complex with the New Hall and 300 spectator seats was completed.


Theater directors and artistic directors
Theodore Reiter, director from January 1919 to March 1926.

Jānis Zālītis, director from December 1919 to April 1922, Alfrēds Kalniņš [1879-1951], representative of the Ministry of Education in the directorate from December 1919 to April 1921, when he was replaced in this position until April 1922 by Jānis Brigaders [1856-1936].

Under the leadership of the chief director Teodoras Reiter, directors from April 1922: Jānis Mediņš and Alberts Kviesis. From April 1925 to March 1926, Paul Shuberts and Alfred Kalniņš.

From March 1926 to June 1927, the chief director was Ansis Gulbis, the directors were Pēteris Pauls Jozuus until June 1927 and Jānis Zālītis until September 1927.

Pēteris Pauls Jozuus, acting chief director from June 1927 to September 1927, when he became director - without additional directors - until April 1929.

Albert Prande, Acting Director from April 1929 to February 1931.

Theodore Reiter, director from February 1931 to August 1934.

Nikolajs Vanadzins, director from August 1934 to June 1936.

Jēkabs Poruks, director from July 1936 to August 1940.

Aleksandrs Viļumanis, director from August 1940 to April 1941.

Pēteris Smilga, director from April 1941 to June 1941.

Jēkabs Poruks, director from July 1941 to September 1944.

Rūdolfs Bērziņš director from October 11, 1944 to November 11, 1945.

Yevgenii Meija, director from December 25, 1945 to June 9, 1952.

Aleksandrs Āboliņš, director from June 10, 1952 to November 21, 1956.

Yevgenijs Meija, director from November 22, 1956 to March 16, 1958 (Vladimirs Kaupužs [b. 1925] is director-organizer during this period).

Vladimirs Kaupužs, director from March 17, 1958 to January 15, 1962.

Isaak Arolovich, director-organizer from January 16, 1962 to May 6, 1962.

Nikolajs Kārklins, director from May 7, 1962 to November 15, 1963.

Valdis Ruja, director from November 22, 1963 to January 14, 1966.

Linards Eichmanis, director from January 15, 1966 to November 15, 1973.

Yevgenijs Vanags, director from January 23, 1974 to July 9, 1977.

Balfour Ferber, managing director from October 19, 1976 to September 6, 1978.

Valdis Blums, director from August 1, 1978 to May 15, 1988.

Arvīds Bomik, director from June 15, 1988 to June 20, 1990 (when his signature rights as director ended).

Olgerts Dunkers, formally director from May 21, 1990 to June 20, 1990.

Juris Savickis, director from June 20, 1990 to August 31, 1994.

Gatis Strads, acting director from September 1, 1994 to August 1, 1995.

Ivars Bērziņš, intendant from August 1, 1995 to March 8, 1996.

Mārtiņš Bauze-Krastiņš, acting director from February 9, 1996 to August 6, 1996.

Andrejs Žagars, acting director from August 6, 1996 to November 5, 1996, director from November 6, 1996 to September 11, 2013

Zigmars Liepiņš - chairman of the board from November 4, 2013 to November 4, 2019, Inese Eglīte - member of the board since September 12, 2013, Daina Markova - member of the board from September 12, 2013 to 10, 2019 for September.

Egils Siliņš, board member Inese Eglīte and board member Sandis Voldiņš (since September 11, 2019).


Teodor Reiter - from 1918 to 1944, chief conductor from 1918 to 1925;

Bernhards Valle - 1919/1920. season, 1922/1923 season of the year;

David Jakobson - from 1920 to 1922;

Jānis Mediņš - from 1920 to 1928;

Emil Cooper (Cooper) - chief conductor from 1925 to 1928;

Georg Schnéevoigt - chief conductor from 1929 to 1931;

Otto Carl (Carl) - from 1929 to 1933;

Ignats Waghalter (Waghalter) - from 1931 to 1933;

Lovro von Matačić (Matačić) - 1932;

Jānis Kalniņš - from 1933 to 1944;

Napoleone Anovazzi (Annovazzi) - 1934/1935 season of the year;

Salvatore Indovino (Indovino) - 1935/1936 season of the year;

Pēteris Barison - 1936/1937 season of the year;

Michels Štemanis (Steimann) - 1936/1937. season of the year;

Arvīds Norītis - from 1937 to 1944;

Leo Blech (Blech) - from 1938 to 1941;

Leonid Wigner - from 1939 to 1949, chief conductor from 1945 to 1949;

Arvīds Jansons - from 1944 to 1952;

Sergej Orlanskis - 1945/1946 season of the year;

Mikhail Zhukov - from 1946 to 1951, chief conductor from 1949 to 1951;

Rihards Glazup - from 1949 to 1992, chief conductor from 1967 to 1975 and 1990/1991. in the season of the year;

Edgar Ton from 1949 to 1967, chief conductor from 1952 to 1967;

Leonids Hudoleys - from 1951 to 1954;

Izrails Chudnovskis from 1953 to 1957;

Jānis Hunhens from 1954 to 1986;

Jázeps Lindbergs - from 1962 to 1983;

Aleksandrs Viļumanis - from 1970 to 1996, chief conductor from 1975 to 1985 and from 1994 to 1996;

Valentin Bogolyubovs - from 1976 to 1982;

Leons Amoliņš - from 1981 to 1992, chief conductor from 1986 to 1990;

Viesturs Gailis - from 1984 to 1993, chief conductor from 1991 to 1993;

Amber Belt - from 1986 to 1994;

Jānis Zirnis - from 1989 to 2004;

Normunds Dregis - from 1996 to 2013;

Guntars Bernāts - from 1996 to 2000;

Gintaras Rinkevičius - musical director from 1996 to 2000, chief conductor from 2000 to 2003, chief guest conductor from 2007 to 2009;

Andris Nelsons - chief conductor from 2003 to 2007;

Modestas Pitrėnas - chief conductor from 2012 to 2013;

Andris Veismanis - from 1997;

Normunds Vaicis - from 1989;

Farhad Stade - from 1997;

Jānis Liepiņš - from 2014;

Aigars Meri - from 2006;

Kaspars Adamsons - from 2014;

Mārtiņš Ozoliņš - from 2003, chief conductor from 2013;

Artistic Directors:

1863-1918 artistic and administrative supervision was represented by the theater director.

From 1919, the function of power was often delegated to several people at the same time: artistic direction during this period was mostly exercised by the chief conductor, leaving administrative matters to the director.

In the period after the reconstruction of the opera house (after 1995), there was a return to the management model that was implemented in the period from 1863 to 1918, with the main director/chairman of the board participating in the formation of both the theater's artistic and economic policy.

Kārlis Zariņš [1930-2015], artistic director from June 20, 1990 to September 1, 1991;

Viesturs Gailis [b. 1955], artistic director from September 1, 1991 to August 31, 1993;

Aleksanders Viļumanis [b. 1942], artistic director from June 10, 1994 to November 4, 1996;

Arturs Maskats [born 1957], deputy director in artistic matters from November 7, 1996 to November 7, 2013.

Ballet masters:

Voldemar Komisar - chief ballet master from 1918 to 1921;

Nikolai Sergeev - chief ballet master from 1922 to 1925;

Alexandra Fyodorova Fokin - chief ballet master from 1925 to 1932;

Anatol Vilzak - chief ballet master from 1932 to 1933;

Mechislav Pianovskis - chief ballet master from 1933 to 1934;

Osvalds Lemanis - chief ballet master from 1934 to 1944;

Helena Tangiyeva-Birzniece - chief ballet master from 1945 to 1952;

Yevgenii Chang - ballet master from 1950 to 1961;

Helena Tangiyeva-Birzniece - chief ballet master from 1956 to 1965;

Irene Strode - acting principal ballet master from 1965 to 1968;

Alexander Lembergs - chief ballet master from 1968 to 1985;

Janina Pankrate - chief ballet master from 1986 to 1989;

Modris Cers - head of the ballet troupe from 1990 to 1992;

Lita Beiris - chief ballet master from 1992 to 1993;

Aivars Leimanis - chief ballet master and head of the ballet troupe since 1993.