The history of the opera in Dresden goes back to the opening of the first opera house in 1667. Dresden rose to become a European opera metropolis under the court conductor Johann Adolph Hasse. In 1817 the Royal Saxon Court Theater was opened. In addition to acting, the Italian and German repertoire was cultivated here. Carl Maria von Weber headed the so-called German Department. In 1843 Richard Wagner became court conductor. »Rienzi«, »The Flying Dutchman« and »Tannhauser« premiered here. Under Ernst von Schuch, General Music Director from 1889 to 1914, there were over 40 world premieres, including "Salome", "Elektra" and "Der Rosenkavalier" by Richard Strauss. By 1938, five more of his operas had their world premieres in Dresden. With Schuch's successor Fritz Busch, Dresden found connection to the modern age,
The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, one of the most renowned orchestras in the world, was founded in 1548. Chief conductors and general music directors included Karl Böhm, Kurt Sanderling, Herbert Blomstedt, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Bernard Haitink and Fabio Luisi. Christian Thielemann has been chief conductor of the Staatskapelle since 2012.
Aaron S. Watkin has shaped the Semperoper Ballet as ballet director since 2006. With a diverse repertoire, he spans traditional narrative ballets to modern dance and sets international standards with first-class soloists.
After Gottfried Semper's first theater building from 1841 burned down in 1869, the opera opened in its present form in 1878. After it was destroyed by the air raids in 1945, the Saxon State Opera no longer had its own house until the rebuilt Semperoper opened in 1985.
Wolfgang Rothe has been Commercial Director of the Semperoper Dresden since 2005 and, since January 2013, has also been responsible for the Saxon State Theaters, which have merged the Dresden State Opera and State Theater. From 2012 to 2018, Wolfgang Rothe also temporarily held the position of artistic director for the Semperoper.
The Swiss Peter Theiler has been director of the Semperoper since the 2018/19 season. Also since the 2018/19 season, Omer Meir Wellber has been the first guest conductor of the Saxon State Opera Dresden.