The Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich
Munich was the last stop on my amazing 3 week trip to Austria, Hungary, and Germany this summer and what a trip it was! It all started in Innsbruck at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference, where I was invited to host a photo walk of the city for the participating bloggers. On my last full day of shooting on this trip I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing location to photograph.
The day started off on a disappointing note though. When I arrived at the Bavarian State Opera House, I was sad to see that the exterior of the building was partly under scaffolding. There was a lot of construction and renovation work being done all over the exterior of the building. I see this kind of thing all the time, as it is only normal that such historic buildings need constant upkeep, maintenance and restoration. Even though I understand why this happens, I still wish they would consult with me before planning these projects! ;)
The host with the most
After a short wait at the security entrance to the Opera, where I had a nice time talking with the guard (yes… even the security guards here have class!) I was met by Reinhard Düesterdick, who was kind enough to be my host for the morning. Unfortunately I have no aptitude for foreign languages and I could see that he was not totally comfortable speaking English. We did our best to understand each other and I really enjoyed his company and the information that he was able to share with me about the building and the opera in general. I’m grateful that so many people are willing to try to speak in English to me when I travel, it makes things so much easier, I just wish that I didn’t have such a hard time remembering the simplest things in foreign languages. One of the things I find most impressive about Europeans is the fact that so many of them speak a multitude different languages. Lucky for me, English and French are often included on their list.
Hurry up and take your time
I often feel like I have to hurry up to get the photos I want to take, but Reinhard made sure to let me know from the very beginning that there was no rush and I could take my time. Thank goodness for that because this was one amazing location to photograph and I had it all to myself this day! I’m only showcasing some of what I was able to photograph on this morning. I’ll have to do a second post, at some point, about the detail shots that I took. I could literally have spent a couple of days, if not more, taking photos here. There is so much to see and I can only imagine how amazing it would be to attend an actual opera here.
My guide with pride
After a very short time inside the Opera House, I could see that Reinhard was just beaming with pride, and rightfully so. As the Director of Property Management he has a huge job overseeing the general maintenance of the building as well as the renovations that were taking place behind the scenes. It was just a few short weeks before the start of the season, and the exterior of the building was being worked on at a feverish pace. On the inside, the hallways and entrance were also being stripped and remodelled for the new season. It was kind of funny to see the workers look a lot busier as soon as we walked by. From what he told me, this renovation and remodelling goes on before every new season. That’s a lot of work, but I’m sure it’s worth it to the hundreds of thousands of spectators that the Bayerische Staatsoper hosts each year.
What comes down must come up again!
The building itself, which is often called the National Theatre Munich or Nationaltheater München, was built between 1751 and 1753. Sadly, the building was ravaged by fire in 1823 and was quickly rebuilt in 1825. Once again, the building was destroyed in bombing raids in 1943 during World War II. It was rebuilt again and opened in 1963 for a performance of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg.
Famous World Premieres
- The list refers only to those premieres of the Bavarian State Opera staged in the Nationaltheater. The Bavarian State Opera had additional premieres in other theatres. Also the Bavarian State Ballet had premieres in the National Theatre.
- 7 October 1849, Benvenuto Cellini by Franz Lachner, Henri-Auguste Barbier and Léon de Wailly (German by: ?)
- 10 June 1865, Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner
- 21 June 1868, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg by Richard Wagner
- 22 September 1869, Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner
- 26 June 1870, Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
- 29 June 1888, Die Feen by Richard Wagner
- 23 January 1897, Königskinder (Melodrama edition) by Engelbert Humperdinck and Elsa Bernstein
- 10 October 1897, Sarema by Alexander von Zemlinsky, Adolf von Zemlinszky and Arnold Schönberg
- 22 January 1899, Der Bärenhäuter by Siegfried Wagner
- 19 March 1906, I quattro rusteghi (Die vier Grobiane) by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Giuseppe Pizzolato (German by Hermann Teibler)
- 11 December 1906, Das Christelflein by Hans Pfitzner and Ilse von Stach
- 4 December 1909, Il segreto di Susanna (Susannens Geheimnis) by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari and Enrico Golisciani (German by Max Kalbeck)
- 28 March 1916, Der Ring des Polykrates by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Leo Feld and Julius Korngold and; Violanta by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Hans Müller-Einigen
- 30 November 1920, Die Vögel by Walter Braunfels (freely adapted from Aristophanes)
- 15 November 1924, Don Gil von den grünen Hosen by Walter Braunfels (by Tirso de Molina)
- 12 November 1931, Das Herz by Hans Pfitzner and Hans Mahner-Mons
- 24 July 1938, Friedenstag by Richard Strauss, Joseph Gregor and Stefan Zweig
- 5 February 1939, Der Mond by Carl Orff
- 28 October 1942, Capriccio (opera) by Richard Strauss and Clemens Krauss
- 27 November 1963, Die Verlobung in San Domingo by Werner Egk (by Heinrich von Kleist)
- 1 August 1972, Sim Tjong by Yun I-sang and Harald Kunz
- 9 July 1978, Lear by Aribert Reimann and Claus H. Henneberg
- 10 May 1981, Lou Salomé by Giuseppe Sinopoli and Karl Dietrich Gräwe
- 22 July 1985 Le Roi Bérenger (König Bérenger I.) by Heinrich Sutermeister (by Eugène Ionesco)
- 8 November 1985, Night by Lorenzo Ferrero and Peter Wehran (after Novalis)
- 25 January 1986, Belshazar by Volker David Kirchner and Harald Weirich
- 7 July 1986, Troades by Aribert Reimann and Gerd Albrecht (by Euripides and Franz Werfel)
- 6 July 1991, Ubu Rex by Krzysztof Penderecki (by Alfred Jarry)
- 1 July 1996, Schlachhof 5 by Hans-Jürgen von Bose (by Kurt Vonnegut)
- 24 May 1998, Was ihr wollt by Manfred Trojahn and Claus H. Henneberg
- 30 October 2000, Bernarda Albas Haus by Aribert Reimann (by Federico García Lorca)
- 27 October 2006, Das Gehege by Wolfgang Rihm and Botho Strauß
- 30 June 2007, Alice in Wonderland by Unsuk Chin and David Henry Hwang
The good side of travel
These are the moments that make travel worth it for me. Being on the road can be trying some times, as was the case just a couple weeks ago in Chiapas, Mexico. That trip was so poorly organized by the PR firm representing the Mexican tourism board that for the first time in my life, I wish I had just stayed home instead of going on a trip. The complete opposite can be said about my time in Munich. The tourism board went out of their way to make sure I got in touch with the wonderful people at the Bavarian State Opera, who made sure that I got all the photos I wanted to help showcase their incredible building.
As I was packing my equipment at the end of the shoot, Reinhard and I were talking about what it’s like to attend an opera at the Bayerische Staatsoper. Some of the Wagner operas can last up to 6 hours! He said that the tickets are sold out well in advance and it is nearly impossible to get one for any show during the season. As he was telling me this, he slipped me his business card and told me to call him the next time I’m in town and that he would be happy to have me as his guest to an opera performance. How incredible is that?
Now I just have to plan to be back in Munich during Oktoberfest (I missed it by 6 days), which is also the beginning of the opera season. Two perfect reasons to return to such a fun city.
Little did I know, but the Bavarian State Opera and my hometown Montreal Symphony Orchestra have something in common. They share Kent Nagano as their musical director. It’s fun to find out things that we have in common when we travel. The more I travel, the more I meet people from all over the world, the more I enjoy finding out about their history, their culture, and even simple little facts like this. I keep promising myself to take more time to talk with people when on the road. It’s not just the photos that are memorable, it’s also the fun moments that are spent with all kinds of different people. I really enjoyed spending the morning with Reinhard, and was also fortunate to spend the afternoon with some of the nice people at the Allianz Arena, home of FC Bayern Munich.
That evening I enjoyed the company of my host Benjamin, whose apartment I was staying in. I was sponsored on this trip by Air BnB, who set me up in some great apartments in Austria, Hungary, and Germany. Once again, getting to know someone local was a special part of the trip for me. Benjamin and I solved all the world’s problems by drinking a couple of bottles of wine that night. Funny, that’s how we do it here in Canada as well! Amazing how we have so much in common all over the world. ;)
What a wonderful day and perfect way to end my trip to Europe! I’m looking forward to being back in April when I head to Umbria in Italy.