Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, palace theatre

The world of Baroque performing arts

The Palace Theatre

In 1758, Duke Carl Eugen had a stage and auditorium built into the theatre building. Today, it is the oldest preserved palace theatre in Europe and still has its original stage machinery. A unique treasure trove of 18th and 19th century background scenery sets has also been preserved in Ludwigsburg.

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, theatre curtain with a painting from Luca Colomba

The curtain rising.

Curtain up!

On 23 May 1758, the curtain was raised for the first time at the Ludwigsburg Palace Theatre. Duke Eberhard Ludwig had already ordered construction of the theatre building between 1729 and 1733. Stage technology and the interior work were added under Duke Carl Eugen. The auditorium in the form of a galleried theatre with boxes was designed by French architect Philippe de la Guêpière. From 1811, King Friedrich I had the space modernized in the neoclassical style by Friedrich von Thouret. The stage remained unchanged.

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, historical stage technology

Stage technology dating back to 1758.

Mysterious machine

The lightning speed with which stage sets were changed when the curtain was up left 18th century audiences gazing in disbelief. This wonder of technology was made possible by some ingenious machinery. A single central axle, the so-called main shaft underneath the stage, allowed one person to move the whole stage set. This clever stage technology was designed by engineer Johann Christian Keim.

Testing historical stage technology in the Theatre Museum

Spectacles and illusions were all part of the Baroque stage, such as imitating the sound of wind, rain and thunder. In the Theatre Museum, reconstructions of these sound machines let people listen to how these sounded. A model of the Ludwigsburg stage machinery reveals how cleverly thought-out this technical construction really was. The exhibition also has a display of curious finds discovered during the restoration work on the Palace Theatre, including oil lamps used for stage lighting.

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, stage set

Stage set with vinyard.

Ludwigsburg Residential Palace, stage portal

The stage portal.

Testing historical stage technology in the Theatre Museum

Spectacles and illusions were all part of the Baroque stage, such as imitating the sound of wind, rain and thunder. In the Theatre Museum, reconstructions of these sound machines let people listen to how these sounded. A model of the Ludwigsburg stage machinery reveals how cleverly thought-out this technical construction really was. The exhibition also has a display of curious finds discovered during the restoration work on the Palace Theatre, including oil lamps used for stage lighting.

If you want to know more about the Palace Theatre, visit the Theatre Museum – free entry! And in summer, you can get a true impression of the Palace Theatre during a performance at the Ludwigsburg Palace Festival.

The Palace Theatre is part of the European Route of Historic Theatres. Across Europe, there are approximately 3,000 historic theatres. From this nearly undiscovered cultural treasure the 120 most beautiful, best preserved and most interesting theatre buildings are connected to a cultural route.

Other highlights in Ludwigsburg Residential Palace

The Order Building
The apartments
The Marble Hall

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