'Riga Wagner Theater' reconstruction takes step forward

The future 'Riga Wagner Theater' is moving on to the next stage of works as demolishing has been completed and the technical design has been finalized, the Riga Richard Wagner Society said in a release on April 29.

The historic Rīga venue, originally the Rīga City Theater, is set to be restored to its former glory. The project aims to not only renovate the building and the theater hall, but also host masterclasses and establish a Richard Wagner museum. 

The original benefactor of the Rīga City Theater in 1782 was Baltic German baron and philanthropist Otto von Vietinghoff, who also paid for a 24-piece orchestra to play to an appreciative audience in a 500-seat auditorium. It quickly became the center of cultural life among the wealthy burghers of Rīga, and a few decades later was attracting the likes of Franz Liszt, Clara Schumann and Hector Berlioz as well as the young Richard Wagner.

The Riga Richard Wagner Society said that during the dismantling stage, chandeliers, historic stoves, parquet flooring, windows, doors, and other interior components, including walls, were removed for refurbishment or demolished altogether.  

A 1:30 scale model of the theater is being made, and it will be showcased to visitors at the Wagner Hall. Architect Zaiga Gaile was quoted: “The model will be akin to a real doll’s house, featuring original materials like mosaic parquet floors, wooden doors, windows, panels, wallpapered walls, furniture, and even chandeliers.” 

The centerpiece of the exhibit will be a model of the ship “Thetis” from Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman, hanging in the glass courtyard.

The construction is planned to be completed within three years, with the grand reopening of the Riga Wagner Theatre expected in autumn 2027. 

You can read more about the history of the Rīga city theater here and about restoration efforts in this feature.

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