Ulrike Hessler Named General Director of Dresden Semper Opera

Classic Arts Features   Ulrike Hessler Named General Director of Dresden Semper Opera
In a historic move, the Saxonian Ministry of Science & Arts has appointed Dr. Ulrike Hessler as its new GM, effective at the end of the 2010 season. Hessler will be the first woman to head the institution in its 169-year history.

Dr. Eva-Maria Stange, Minister for Sciences and Arts in the German state of Saxony, made the announcement in a Sept. 18 statement. Hessler succeeds current intendant Gerd Uecker.

Ulrike Hessler has been with the Bavarian State Opera since 1984, working her way up from assistant to press spokesperson to director for public relations and program development. When the Bavarian State Opera was without a GM during the 2006/07 and 2007/08 seasons, she formed an interim directorship with Music Director Kent Nagano, running the day-to-day affairs of the opera house.

Hessler comes from Kassel, Germany. She studied literature at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and became a researcher for teaching methods at Bavaria's Eichstaett University. Before entering the opera industry, Mrs. Hessler worked as a freelance journalist for Bavarian Radio and has been published by Harper's and Vogue. A frequent guest lecturer at universities worldwide, she has held a seat on the Board of Governors at Tel Aviv University since 1990.

According to the Saxonian Ministry of Science & Arts, a major deciding factor in their choice was "the way [in which] Mrs. Hessler thinks about the future of an opera house [with] a very active repertoire, [and ways in which] an ensemble theater with such a long tradition will successfully [take on] the tough international competition."

Sir Peter Jonas - former director of such companies as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, English National Opera, and Bavarian State Opera - was among the advisers to the ministry in this decision. Famous tenor and conductor Peter Schreier welcomed the selection, describing Hessler as an "incredibly creative and decisive" collaborator.


Dresden's Semper Opera House has played host to a great number of pivotal moments in the art form's history, presenting world premieres of Richard Wagner's Rienzi, Der fliegende Holl‹nder and Tannh‹user. Additionally, nine of Richard Strauss' works made their first stage appearances on the Semper stage, including Salome, Der Rosenkavalier and Elektra.

For further information in English, visit S‹chsische Staatsoper Dresden.

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