Franz Ferdinand von Dingelstedt

* 30.06.1814 in Halsdorf/Wohra; ✝ 11.05.1881 in Vienna

Writer, Director, Artistic Director



Dingelstedt began a career as teacher and writer, but kept getting into trouble with overbearing authorities on account of his liberal views. He pursued a journalistic career, too, as a sideline to his teaching, but after a period of set-backs, during which his work was repeatedly subject to censorship, an important turning point came with his appointment to the Court Council in Stuttgart in 1843, for it was there that, starting in 1846, he became advisor to the Court Theatre.

This connection with the theatre was strengthened by his appointment to the position of Theatrical Artistic Director in Munich in 1851. Here he made his mark by focusing his attention on the classics, particularly Shakespeare – an attention which came to fruition with the so-called Gesamtgastspiele (1854), for which he secured the performance of external actors. In terms of theatrical history he is regarded as a precursor to Meiningen on account of his crowd-scenes and stage décor, and also as one of the first true German directors, in that he was able to impress his own unique vision on the whole process of theatrical production.

Between 1857 and 1867 he was Artistic Director in Weimar, and it was here, on the occasion of Shakespeare’s 300th birthday in 1864, that he presented Shakespeare’s histories as an interconnected cycle of plays. He also played a leading role in the founding of the German Shakespeare Society, and was elected as its Vice President. In 1870 he moved to Vienna, where he began as Artistic Director first of the Opera, and then (1875-1880) of both Opera and Theatre, before eventually giving up the former. Here too, in 1875, he presented a cycle of Shakespeare plays.

Dingelstedt was ennobled in 1867, and was further distinguished by the title ‘Freiherr’ in 1876. His great merits were above all the reform of stage-direction and the introduction of a more cogent relationship between words and action. By contrast, his reliance on his own adaptations for Shakespeare productions has been often criticized, on the grounds that they take too many liberties with the original.  




Primary Literature

Secondary Literature

Album pages with this person

Citation and Licence

Dingelstedt, Franz Ferdinand von, in: The Digital Shakespeare Memorial Album. Edited by Christa Jansohn. URI: (Accessed on 30.05.2024)

This text is published under the following licence: CC BY-ND 3.0 DE. Digitzed media reproduced with the permission of the library of Birmingham.

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