"Opera and cycling in Braunschweig" Top 5 Page for this destination Braunschweig by Nemorino

Braunschweig Travel Guide: 171 reviews and 545 photos

On the balcony of the State Theater Braunschweig

Braunschweig, which in English is also known as Brunswick, has a population of over 240,000, which makes it the second largest city in Lower Saxony (after Hannover).

When I first visited Braunschweig ten years ago I found the city somewhat off-putting because of its bloated infrastructure for automobile traffic, but I have since done some cycling there and found that they have also made ample provision for bicycles. In fact cycling is a very good option in Braunschweig, both in the city and in the surrounding countryside.

My immediate reason for visiting Braunschweig in 2007 was to see Kerstin Maria Pöhler's staging of the opera La traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). This is now one of the world's most popular operas, but when it first came out in 1853 it shocked opera goers (and the original cast of singers!) because of its highly controversial contemporary topic. It wasn't about Greek gods or Roman emperors, as everyone expected, but about a French courtesan (sort of an up-market prostitute) who had really lived and in fact had just died six years earlier of tuberculosis at the age of twenty-three.

Since Verdi's intention in his own day was to create daring contemporary musical drama, I'm sure he would have approved of the efforts of 20th and 21st century stage directors to bring it up to date and relate it to the concerns of modern audiences.

For Axel Corti, whose 1991 Frankfurt staging has been revived repeatedly in the past twenty-one years, the heroine of La traviata was a Jewish actress and singer who had an affair with a German general in Nazi-occupied Paris in the 1940s, a century later than the original story. For Kerstin Maria Pöhler, the Artistic Director of the State Theater Braunschweig, this same heroine was a worshiped but abused entertainment star resembling Marilyn Monroe or Maria Callas.

I was fortunate enough to see these two very different productions within forty-eight hours of each other and was highly impressed with the poignant and logically consistent interpretations by these two very different stage directors.

On previous visits to Braunschweig I saw the four-act Italian version of Verdi's Don Carlo and the original 1869 version of Boris Godunow by Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881).

  • Last visit to Braunschweig: May 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (20)

Comments (25)

  • Oleg_D.'s Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2015 at 12:27 PM

    Probably this place was too bombed out in 1943-1945 because no many medieval buildings survived?

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Jul 24, 2015 at 12:37 PM

      Yes, Braunschweig took a beating during the war.
      Thanks for your ratings and comments.

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo
    Nov 2, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    Hi Don! Enjoyed reading your Braunschweig page. Well done!

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Nov 4, 2014 at 3:37 AM

      Thanks, John. I'm glad you liked by Braunschweig reviews. I used to go in and out of Braunschweig on business sometimes, but later went back on my own for a closer look.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jun 17, 2013 at 1:16 AM

    Nice page Don! Braunschweig has some lovely old buildings

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Hi Don. A nice set of tips about Braunschweig. I've been here several times over the years as my mother is from this region. Very interesting link about the origins of the school. Tschuss

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Another fine page Don! The electric trams look fun!

  • traveldave's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2013 at 7:34 AM

    Interesting tips and pictures about a town I'd never heard of.

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    I love houses like Alte Waage, thanks for the virtual tour :)

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    another city, another learning experience. seems most every city has a significant cultural exposure. interesting reading as always.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 13, 2010 at 9:45 AM

    A fresh area of Germany for me to explore with you! I love the Alte Waage - so well and so painstakingly reconstructed :-) Odd to see a building so English in appearance as Richmond Palace!

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2009 at 4:57 AM

    Hello Don, I hope everything is fine with you. Are you planning any trips to the Latin countries of our good old continent? Impressive reconstruction work of Braunschweigs Alte Waage.


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