The Burgtheater – (Imperial) Court Theatre), originally known as K.K. Theater an der Burg, then until 1918 as the K.K. Hofburgtheater, is the Austrian National Theatre in Vienna and one of the most important German language theatres in the world. The Burgtheater was created in 1741 and has become known as “die Burg” by the Viennese population; its theater company of more or less regular members has created a traditional style and speech typical of Burgtheater performances.
It was created on 14 March 1741 by Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa of Austria to be a theatre next to her palace, and her son, Emperor Joseph II called it the “German National Theatre” in 1776. Three Mozart operas premiered there: Die Entführung aus dem Serail (1782), Le nozze di Figaro (1786) and Così fan tutte (1790). Beginning in 1794, the theatre was called the “K.K. Hoftheater nächst der Burg”. Beethoven’s 1st Symphony premiered there on April 2, 1800.
The theatre was moved to a new building at the Ringstraße on 14 October 1888 designed by Gottfried Semper and Karl Freiherr von Hasenauer.
In 1943, under Nazi rule, a notoriously extreme production of The Merchant of Venice was staged at the Burgtheater – with Werner Krauss as Shylock, one of several theater and film roles by this actor pandering to antisemitic stereotypes.
On March 12, 1945 the Burgtheater was largely destroyed in a bombing raid, and, one month later, on April 12, 1945, the Burgtheater was further damaged by a fire of unknown origin.After the war, the theatre was restored between 1953-1955.The classic Burgtheater style and the Burgtheater-German language were trend-setting for German language theaters.