It’s not every day you get to see a friend make her European operatic debut, but thanks to good timing and the German train system, I was able to make the trip over to Hanover to see Rebecca Davis sing the role of Fiordiligi in Cosi Fan Tutte at the Staatsoper Hannover.
Hanover is not a large city, but it is a diverse one. Again, I was able to delight in my dear quark when lunching at Masa, a local Afghan place/biergarten that had come to me highly recommended. An Afghan biergarten—now I know such a thing exists! The kufta, or lamb/beef meatballs, came topped with a delicate tomato sauce and large globs of quark, along with basmati rice to soak it all up.
The opera that evening was wonderful. I have come to appreciate going to the opera in Germany, which is different from going in the States. For one thing, opera seems deeply ingrained in German society. It seems like every town, big or small, has its own opera house. Music in general is strongly woven into the Germans’ societal fabric. Consequently, audiences here are quite sophisticated—they are familiar with the work being presented. They are more likely to understand the nuanced backstories of a work. As a result, it takes a little bit more to get them to applaud for an artist or a production, and much more ka-pow to get them to give a standing ovation than in the States. I found this production a fresh one (but in the eyes of a German audience member, who knows?), taking place in what could be a half-finished, life-sized dollhouse. Dolls figured significantly in the show, and the characters were reminiscent of dolls themselves in their garish suits and housedresses. The orchestra was great—they clearly have been playing together for a long time! The artists were fine as well, and it was great to see Rebecca in a new role. She was the Violetta in the Livermore Valley Opera production I participated in earlier this year, and here, she fit the role of Fiordiligi well, breezing through the complex staging and music.
Afterward, I guess you can call it a girls’ night out! We found a local hangout called Bavarium just across from the Operplatz. After ordering some beers and taking note of the gargantuan plates, we decided to split one Jager schnitzel—a hearty meal consisting of two huge, breaded, fried pork cutlets topped with mushroom/bacon gravy, plus frites on the side. And a small salad.
We could have chatted there all evening, except the kitchen closed at midnight, making dessert at Bavarium impossible. Our very friendly server pointed us to another bar down the road, Alexander, and tried to explain that they made pancakes there. I had no idea what kind of pancakes he was talking about, but the call of dessert was strong, and off we went!
Only as our pfannkuchen were laid before us did I understand these German pancakes. They were as wide as dinner plates, with the edges folded up to catch sauce. Ours were both topped with sliced apples and a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the center. I asked for extra chocolate sauce—just because I could! Rebecca and I were sent straight to seventh heaven as we dug in. It was a cold, wet night out, and we had roamed the streets of Hanover to get to this bar! By golly, we were going to love these pancakes! They were light and fluffy, with large pockets of air—lighter in texture and thinner than American flapjacks, thanks to all the egg in the recipe. Add to that a warm mug of chamomile tea, and we were content in this small back-alley bar. The walls were covered in metal beer plaque posters, and loud nineties hip-hop music blared next to us. But that pfannkuchen—it is worth a second trip to Alexander just for that.
By this time, we were sated. It was late. But what a great evening it was! Thank you, Hanover, and congratulations, Rebecca!