I couldn’t go to Germany and not go to the opera. Already, I am always scoping out the scene San Francisco, but Germany is one of the best countries to see it, and Frankfurt is definitely one of the top houses! My first opera on the tour was Elektra by Richard Strauss, in Mainz, which is about 40 minutes outside of Frankfurt by train. A good friend was singing the role of Chrysothemis, which left me no choice but to go and cheer her on.
All in all—striking and memorable production. The set and costumes were evocative of the conflicts we have seen in Middle Eastern countries recently, complete with dead bodies, machine guns, and bright search lights. And zombies. My friend sang her role beautifully, and the whole cast was fabulous. Everyone did so well. If you want to see a depressing, short opera, go for Elektra.
The second opera on the list was La Traviata at the Frankfurt Opera, where another friend was singing the role of Gastone. This production is older, dating back to 1991, but you couldn’t tell from looking at it. It was absolutely charming, even though it evoked World War II with air raid sirens and military police officers making the rounds. I was glad to see it.
The third and final opera was my absolute favorite one—Giulio Cesare in Egitto by Handel. I cannot even begin to describe how much I love this piece! I think I have 4 recordings of it. But that evening–talk about a tour de force production. The theme for the production was old Hollywood, and the stage was filled with glamour and bright lights. There was even a moment where the stage was inundated with water while rippling water projections gleamed on the walls. The singing and acting were exceptional all around. It was sheer brilliance, and the perfect end to my visit. I couldn’t have asked for a better opera, or a better production. At the end of the performance, the a third of the house even gave a standing ovation, which, for Frankfurt audiences, is pretty admirable.
All in all–a successful opera marathon of a field trip!