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September 2003 - Nr. 9


The Editor
Antje berichtet
Elizabeth Kuehn
Dear Mom
Rachel Seilern
Over the Fence
Music Toronto
25 Years Musik
KW and Beyond
City Elections
Top Honor in Venice?
Toronto Film Festival
Mustard Festival
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Financial Advice
The White Wale
Planet in Focus
After the Flood
Sahara-Touristen frei
Berlin Wall
Comics Fair
Rediscover East Germany
Literary "Wunderkind"
350 Years of Opera
"German Trilogy"
New Element

Munich celebrates
350 Years of Opera

  TWIG - Munich was rife with music this summer as over 86,000 opera-lovers attended the city’s annual summer opera festival, celebrating the 350th anniversary of opera’s arrival in the city and marking the beginning of a year of opera festivities in the Bavarian metropolis.

This year’s festival saw the performance of Handel’s "Rodelinda" and the German debut of many of opera’s rising international stars, including soprano Anna Netrebko.

Munich’s long operatic tradition began in 1653 with the premier of Maccionis "L’arpa festante" in the Wittelsbacher residence, the home of Bavaria’s ruling family. Performances were staged there until a year later, when the Salvatortheater - Germany’s first freestanding opera house - made opera an institution in the city.

When the Salvatortheater fell into disrepair, area nobility flocked to the Cuvielles Theater inside the Residence, one of the finest Rococo theaters in existence in the world today.

Since 1818, however, the home of opera in the city has been the National Theater, which was built by the Wittelsbacher family in response to the ever-increasing demand for musical entertainment. The lavish, five-tiered theater seats 2,000 guests - quite a considerable audience at the time of its construction back in 1818, when the city’s population was only 54,000.

Though Bayreuth is the city traditionally associated with Richard Wagner, it was Munich that saw the premiers of his operas "Tristan Und Isolde" (1865), "Die Meistersaenger von Nuernberg" (1868), "Das Rheingold" (1869) and "Die Walkuere" (1870), with the latter two performed against the composer’s will.

Bavarian King Ludwig II, perhaps more infamous for having emptied state coffers for his whimsical castles, drew Wagner to the city and supported his musical endeavors. Though the run of Wagner’s 16-hour "Ring des Nibelungen" ended earlier this year, in October, the Munich City Museum will host an exhibition on the composer’s life, which has been described as "perhaps the most elaborate, comprehensive display of [his] life and work ever presented."

The apex of this year’s celebration is yet to come, however. With the hope of drawing more tourists to the seldom-visited Wittelsbacher Residence next to the National Theater, culture officials are breathing new life into the newly founded "Residence Week."

These days, opera enjoys a growing fan base as more than just kings are drawn to the almost nightly performances at the National Theater. Over 23,000 people inundated Max Joseph Square in front of the National Theater to watch Verdi’s "Falstaff" as part of the theater’s "Opera for Everyone" program, a public open-air screening of one performance.

Indeed, the festivities for this year’s celebration will not be confined to the stage. A city-wide offering of classes, workshops, and exhibits on opera complements this year’s festival. The exhibitions include "Theatrum-Mundi: The World as a Stage" at the German Theater Museum.

National Theater in Munich
Munich Opera Festival
(http://www.350-Jahre-Oper.de )


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