Great Hall of the University
The Grosse Aula (Great Hall) of the University is located in the old university building in the heart of the old town centre of Salzburg; it is flanked by the Furtwängler Garden adjoining the Max Reinhardt Square in the festival quarter. The University of Salzburg was founded in 1622 by the Benedictine monks, and during the 17th and 18th centuries the Great Hall was one of the most important locations for the performance of sacred and Baroque theatrical works. It was built over a period of 24 years in the complex of university buildings based on the model by the cathedral architect Santino Solari and was referred to as the Aula Maior. After its consecration in 1654 by Archbishop Paris Lodron, the founder of the University of Salzburg, a permanent theatre was built into the complex in 1660. Wolfgang Amadé Mozart, the genius loci of Salzburg, performed here at the age of five in 1761 in the school play Sigismundus Hungaria Rex (music by J. E. Eberlin, libretto: P. M. Wimmer) and danced the role of a page. On 13 May 1767 his early opera Apollo et Hyacinthus (K. 38) was given its first performance here; Mozart himself played the harpsichord. 1782 marked the end of theatrical productions in the hall.
After several periods of renovation or conversion work (the most recent was from 2003 to 2005, architects Georg Huber and Karl Meinhart designed the new entrance and staircase; the interior was created according to plans by architect Franz Fonatsch; the building contractor was the Federal Estates Office and the project received generous financial support from the patrons of Salzburg and the arts Donald and Jeanne Kahn, as well as from the state of Austria and region of Salzburg) the Grosse Aula was re-opened in a ceremony on Mozart’s 249th birthday, on 27 January 2005, with a performance of Mozart’s Apollo et Hyacinthus.