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Architect Martin Dülfer wins favour among the people of Meran

Around the turn of the century, the building of a suitable theatre for Merano was no longer simply a matter of prestige. The provisional “Kurhaus theatre” in the Pavillon des Fleurs was no longer adequate for the ensembles. Spa director Wilhelm von Pernwerth strongly supported the building of the theatre. In 1884 a theatre building committee was formed, financing and location problems were clarified, but another 10 years elapsed before an architectural tender was issued. Something special, a temple to the muses, was expected. In April 1899, five projects were presented for inspection in the then Kurhaus (the Pavillon des Fleurs). The architect Martin Dülfer (1859-1943) was awarded the job but still had to make changes to his designs. Construction finally began in September 1899. Dieter Klein, in his book “Martin Dülfers Stadttheater [Martin Dülfer’s Merano Theatre]” describes Martin Dülfer as one of the most interesting and inspiring architectural personalities of the turn of the century. The theatre was finished in just 14 months, to international acclaim. On 1 December 1900 the ceremonial opening took place with a performance of Goethe's Faust. Karl von Maisdorff was the first theatre manager.

Up until the beginning of the First World War, the theatre enjoyed great success with enthusiastic theatre managers and highly proficient ensembles. After the Second World War, the “Südtiroler Landesbühne” once more played to full houses, with numerous other high-quality performers delighting the public. The 1950s saw the cinema attracting audiences away, while large debts prevented vital but expensive roof renovation work. A fire was the last straw and the theatre was forced to close.

In 1970 an advisory committee tackled the renovation works, but they proceeded sluggishly. Finally, on 28 November 1978, the house ceremonially reopened. While inside guests enjoyed a gala performance, egg-throwing demonstrators outside criticised the “luxury theatre” as a social and political anachronism. Merano’s Merano Theatre is however the only dedicated theatre building in South Tyrol serving solely cultural purposes. The architects Lilly and Willy Gutweniger made a considerable contribution to its renovation.

Contact Organiser & Visitors

Kurhaus & Stadttheater Meran
Freiheitsstr. 33
I-39012 - Meran
+39 0473 496000

Zwei Seelen
Ein Vorspiel by Hannes Egger