Semperoper - location of the ceremony

Pictures and symbols make the most impact in public discourse. But rarely, new and strong symbols are created. Symbols that will henceforth stand for an unmistakable attitude, a clear message. In December 2014 the Semperoper established such a symbol. In fact, to put it simply, with a quick reach to the light switch.

For weeks, the Pegida movement had been occupying the Theaterplatz with their gatherings every Monday. The opera house no longer wanted to passively offer its stunning scenery for demonstrations propagating xenophobic and exclusionary paroles. Subsequently, the buildings’ lighting was turned off. Everything that lent the Theaterplatz its distinctive appearance was gone – certainly an action with profound impact.

Prior to that, acting director Wolfgang Rothe had been in touch with the Gläserne Manufaktur a glass-walled automotive factory of Volkswagen and numerous other institutions of the city and the world. Following the Semperoper’s example the Gläserne Manufaktur turned the lights off for the first time this very evening – a sign against Pegida.

Shortly after the same happened in Cologne. When Pegida – albeit quite decimated – marched up it was “Lights out for racists”: the lighting of Cologne Cathedral and other public buildings was turned off.

The Semperoper frequently takes up a stance in many different ways. On its façade hangs a banner with its motto “Für ein weltoffenes Dresden”. From October 2015 to June 2016 employees of the building showed their colours for cosmopolitanism and against xenophobia on a huge screen in the Exedra of the opera house.

Since 2010 the Dresden Prize has been awarded in close collaboration with the Semperoper in the well-known opera house at Theaterplatz.

In the night of the 13th to the 14th February 1945 the Semperoper was hit by bombs and burned out in its entirety. Fly tower and auditorium in particular were heavily damaged, the interior design almost completely destroyed. After eight years of reconstruction, Gottfried Semper’s magnificent opera house could solemnly be reopened on 13th February 1985. Since then, every year on February 13, a requiem is performed to commemorate this night’s bomb victims.

By awarding the International Peace Prize the opera house has become a symbolic place to an even greater extent: Turning against violence and xenophobia and strongly standing up for peace, reconciliation and international understanding.