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Front and rear of the Aalto Theatre

The Aalto Theatre, officially the Aalto-Musiktheater Essen, is a performing arts venue in Essen, Germany. It opened on 25 September 1988 with Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and is mainly used for opera and ballet, but also for concerts and galas.

The design by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto was the unanimous winner in a competition in 1959, but the building was begun only in 1983, seven years after Aalto's death. A feature of the auditorium's design is its asymmetrical layout and the indigo blue colour of the seats.

The artistic director (Intendant) and music director (Generalmusikdirektor) from 1997 until 2013 was Stefan Soltesz [de]. He was succeeded by Hein Mulders [de].

Following a survey of 50 critics in 2008, the magazine Opernwelt declared the Aalto Theatre to be the best opera house in the German-speaking countries and awarded the title Opera House of the Year 2008.


  • Dietmar N. Schmidt [de] (ed.): Das Theater von Alvar Aalto in Essen. Baedeker, Essen 1988, ISBN 3-920138-03-1
  • Klaus Umbach: "Musiktheater – In Rausch und Bogen" in: Der Spiegel Nr. 13/2007, Hamburg, 26 March 2007; pp. 158–159 ‹See Tfd›(in German)

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