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The Landestheater can look back on a very varied history which directly reflects the political and socio-cultural changes in the life of Salzburg: at the end of the 18th century the former Lodron Ball Room became the “Court Theatre”; in 1880 it was known as the Imperial and Royal National Theatre. After a new theatre was built in 1893 it was known as the City Theatre and following further conversions and renovation work (financed by the regional authorities) it has been known as the Landestheater since 1939/40. In 1856 a secular Mozart Festival was held in Salzburg when Don Giovanni was performed. Towards the end of the 19th century, music festivals were held when several Mozart operas were performed in the Landestheater. These festivities can be regarded as the immediate precursors of the Salzburg Festival.
It is probably more than mere chance that Max Reinhardt entered his first engagement at the age of twenty in Salzburg. He appeared in the opening performance celebrating the new theatre building in 1893 (according to plans by the architects Fellner & Helmer, who as early as 1890 presented an outline plan for a Mozart Festival Hall on the Mönchsberg, which, however, was never realised). From 1922 until the relevant adaptation of the Festival House (1927) all opera performances at the festival were given in the Stadttheater. These were mainly guest productions from the Vienna State Opera which were intended to ensure a scenic alternative programme to Max Reinhardt’s drama productions. Since the time when the festival halls were completed in the old town centre of Salzburg the Landestheater has be-come an important venue for productions of plays, including many world premieres.