Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)



First Advisor

Robert Grayson


The New Orleans National Theatre was built in 1866 by a group of wealthy German-Americans for the purpose of providing a place for the performance of German theatrical productions. The theatre saw eight seasons between 1866 and 1878 in which some type of operatic productions were performed, generally from fall through early spring of 1866--1867, 1867--1868, 1868--1869, Winter 1870, 1870--1871, 1871--1872, 1872--1873, and 1877--1878. A local theatrical company functioned in six of those seasons, including 1866--1867, the fall of the 1867--1868 season, 1870--1871, 1871--1872, 1872--1873, and 1877--1878. During the intervening seasons, from 1868 through the Winter of 1870, operatic productions were performed solely by traveling German opera troupes. The theatre was sold in 1880 to Philip Werlein, a vendor of pianos in New Orleans, and ceased to function as a German enterprise. The building burned in 1887. An equal number of operas and operettas was produced at the National Theatre. Most of the operas were performed by the traveling troupes, but various local companies performed seven different operas productions intermittently throughout the entire history of the theatre. All of the operettas were performed by the local companies. This monograph is a compilation of the operatic activities of the National Theatre drawn primarily from contemporary reviews of the period found in two New Orleans newspapers, the Daily Picayune and the German Tagliche deutsche Zeitung. The paper is divided into ten chapters, the first two providing a brief history of German theatre in New Orleans prior to 1866 and a physical description of the structure. The next seven chapters, three through nine, give accounts of the performances of the various operatic productions staged at the theatre. A conclusion, chapter ten, gives a summary of the operatic productions mounted at the theatre as well as comparisons between the reviews of the two newspapers used as source material. Two appendices are included, one providing a list of works by composers and the other a chronological listing of performances that includes cast lists.