Angela Merkel at the opening night

Berlin’s State Opera re-opens at Unter den Linden

Angela Merkel at the opening nightGETTY

The Berlin’s State Opera reopened on the day celebrating the German reunification

Leading Berlin dignatories, including Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel were guests at the opening night, the date chosen being the Day of German Re-unification.

Star of the show was the opera house itself.

Built in 1742 by King Frederick II of Prussia, the handsome building has had a chequered history.

It was destroyed by fire in 1843, and was bombed twice during the second world war.

Rebuilt in classical style it re-opened as East Germany’s State Opera from 1955 to 1990.

After German re-unification conductor Daniel Barenboim was appointed Music Director in 1992 and elected “conductor for life” by the orchestra in 2000.

Having postponed two openings because of building work delays, the company decided to keep to the revised date with two performances of Schumann’s Szenen aus Goethes Faust (Scenes from Goethe’s Faust) and a concert starring international Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini before going dark again to work on technical aspects, re-opening fully on 7 December – the 275th anniversary of the opera house.

The re-opening provided an opportunity to test out the auditorium, the ceiling of which had been raised by 20 feet to give the upper gallery much needed space.

Angela Merkel at the Berlin's State OperaGETTY

Angela Merkel at the opening night of the Berlin’s State Opera

An attractive addition was the ceramic lattice work designed to improve acoustics.

As it happened, Scenes from Goethe’s Faust was not the best choice for a celebratory occasion.

It is an episodic piece, written by Schumann over several years, and reflective rather than dramatic.

Director Jurgen Flimm interspersed dialogue to create a hybrid work which inordinately lengthened the evening.

Berlin’s State Opera's stageGETTY

Conductor Daniel Barenboim and Staatskapelle Berlin during the Re-Opening of the State Opera

Despite fine singing, with Rene Pape a resonant Mephistopheles, Elsa Dreisig a crystalline Gretchen, and an assertive Faust from Roman Trekel, the staging was frankly a bit of a mess, and the Berlin audience in the gallery robustly made their views known at the curtain calls.

The next night’s concert performance was more successful in the Staatskapelle’s performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto with international Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini, followed by Debussy’s Images pour Orchestre.

Beautiful harmony from the Staatskapelle, one of the oldest orchestras in existence, dating from 1570.

The company seems already thoroughly settled in and have started work in their spacious new rehearsal rooms on two new productions for the December opening, Humperdinck’s Hansel und Gretel and Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea.

Reopening night at the State Opera in BerlinGETTY

The makeover of the opera theatre cost 400 million euro

Incoming general director Matthias Schulz, taking over from retiring director Flimm next spring, looks to expand the commissioning of new work and says his dearest wish would be to stage one new masterpiece at the Staatsoper every year.

It is, he emphasised, important to make opera as accessible as possible, and the young are the key to its future.

Posted on; Express.co.uk>>

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