Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Alfred Roller was born in Brno, Moravia. He at first studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna under Christian Griepenkerl and Eduard Peithner von Lichtenfels, but eventually became disenchanted with the Academy’s traditionalism. In 1897 he co-founded the Viennese Secession with Koloman Moser, Joseph Maria Olbrich, Josef Hoffmann, Gustav Klimt, and other artists who rejected the prevalent academic style of art. He became a professor of drawing at the University of Applied Arts Vienna (Kunstgewerbeschule) in 1899, and president of the Secession in 1902.

In his early career Roller was very active as a graphic designer and draughtsman. He designed numerous covers and vignettes for the pages the Secessionist periodical Ver Sacrum, as well as the posters for the fourth, fourteenth, and sixteenth Secession exhibitions. He also designed the layout of the exhibitions themselves.

15-04-1902 Roller was introduced to Gustav Mahler by Carl Julius Rudolf Moll (1861-1945). Roller expressed an interest in stage design and showed Mahler several sketches he had made for Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde. Mahler was impressed and decided to employ Roller to design the sets for a new production of the piece. The production, which premiered in February 1903, was a great critical success. Roller continued to design sets for Mahler’s productions. 

The collaboration between Mahler and Roller created more than 20 celebrated productions of, among other operas, Beethoven’s Fidelio, Gluck’s Iphigénie en Aulide and Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. In the Figaro production, Mahler offended some purists by adding and composing a short recitative scene to Act III.

Eventually Alfred Roller left the Secession and his teaching post at the Kunstgewerbeschule to be appointed chief stage designer to the Vienna State Opera, a position he held until 1909.

Roller productions between 1901 and 1912

YearComposerProductionLocationGustav Mahler premiere
Year 1903Richard Wagner (1813-1883)Tristan und IsoldeVienna State Opera1903 Opera Vienna 21-02-1903
Year 1903Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) La BohemeVienna State Opera 
Year 1903Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)EuryantheVienna State Opera1903 Opera Vienna 19-01-1903
Year 1904Hugo Wolf (1860-1903)Der CorregidorVienna State Opera1904 Opera Vienna 18-02-1904
Year 1904Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco Verdi (1813-1901)FalstaffVienna State Opera1904 Opera Vienna 03-05-1904
Year 1904Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)FidelioVienna State Opera1904 Opera Vienna 07-10-1904
Year 1904Richard Wagner (1813-1883)Lohengrin (Act 1)Vienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 14-11-1905
Year 1905Hans Pfitzner (1869-1949)Rose vom Liebesgarten Vienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 06-04-1905
Year 1905Leo Delibes (1836-1891)LakmeVienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 14-11-1905
Year 1905Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (1876-1948)Curious WivesVienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 04-10-1905
Year 1905Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)Cosi fan tutteVienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 24-11-1905
Year 1905Richard Wagner (1813-1883)RheingoldVienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 23-01-1905
Year 1906Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)Don GiovanniVienna State Opera1905 Opera Vienna 21-12-1905
Year 1906Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)FigaroVienna State Opera1906 Opera Vienna 30-03-1906
Year 1906Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)ZauberfloteVienna State Opera1906 Opera Vienna 01-06-1906
Year 1906Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)Entfuhrung aus dem SerailVienna State Opera1906 Opera Vienna 29-01-1906
Year 1906Richard Wagner (1813-1883)Lohengrin (Act 2 and 3)Vienna State Opera 
Year 1906Hermann Goetz, Gotz (1840-1876)Taming of the ShrewVienna State Opera1906 Opera Vienna 03-11-1906
Year 1906Max von Schillings (1868-1933)Der Meloch (not performed)Vienna State Opera 
Year 1906Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)Oedipus un die SphinxBerlin Deutsches theater 
Year 1907Gerhart Hauptmann (1868-1946)Kaiser Karls GeiselBerlin Lessing theater 
Year 1907Wilhelm Minkus / Leo Delibes (1836-1891)Rubezhal (ballet)Vienna State Opera 
Year 1907Richard Wagner (1813-1883)WalkureVienna State Opera1907 Opera Vienna 04-02-1907
Year 1907Christoph Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787)Iphigenie en AulideVienna State Opera1907 Opera Vienna 18-03-1907
Year 1907Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868)BarbierVienna State Opera 
Year 1907Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) ButterflyVienna State Opera 
Year 1907Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)FidelioNew York Metropolitan Opera (MET)1908 Opera New York 20-03-1908
Year 1907Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)Wilhelm TellNew York Deutsches theater 
Year 1908Richard Wagner (1813-1883)SiegfriedVienna State Opera 
Year 1908Julius Bittner (1874-1939)Die Rote GretVienna State Opera 
Year 1908Eugen d’Albert (1864-1932)TieflandVienna State Opera 
Year 1908Etienne Mehul (1763-1817)Joseph et ses freresVienna State Opera 
Year 1909Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)FidelioNew York Metropolitan Opera (MET)1909 Opera New York 20-02-1909
Year 1909Richard Wagner (1813-1883)GotterdammerungVienna State Opera 
Year 1909Richard Strauss (1864-1949)ElektraVienna State Opera 
Year 1909Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)Faust IBerlin Deutsches theater 
Year 1911Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)Faust IIBerlin Deutsches theater 
Year 1911Richard Strauss (1864-1949)Der RosenkavalierDresden Hoftheater 
Year 1911SophoclesOedipus RexBerlin Zirkus Schumann 
Year 1911AeschylusThe OresteiaBerlin Zirkus Schumann 
Year 1911AeschylusThe OresteiaMunich Festsaal 
Year 1911Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)JedermannBerlin Zirkus Schumann 
Year 1911Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)JedermannMunich Neue Musik-Festhalle 
Year 1911Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)JedermannVienna Burgtheater 

Year 1903. Tristan und Isolde. Act I and Act II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1903. La Boheme. Prologue. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1903. Rheingold. Act II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1903. Walkure. Act II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1904. Fidelio. Roccos Stube. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1905. Rose vom Liebensgarten. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1905. Don Giovanni. Act I. Scene II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1906. Lohengrin. Act I. Scene I. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1906. Figaro. Cherubin. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1909. Elektra. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1911. Faust. Act II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1911. Der Rosenkavalier. Act II. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1911. Jedermann. Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

Year 1902. Poster for the 14th exhibition of the Vienna Secession (exhibitions)Alfred Roller (1864-1935).

1920. Alfred Roller (1864-1935) by Dora (Madame d’Ora) Kallmus (1881-1963).

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