"Rossini in Wildbad" Wildbad im Schwarzwald by Nemorino
Wildbad im Schwarzwald Travel Guide: 17 reviews and 118 photos
One of the mysteries of operatic history is why the composer Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868) abruptly stopped composing in 1829 at the age of 37, when he was at the height of his powers and had just had a huge success with his opera Wilhelm Tell. Since he was a prolific composer who churned out two or more operas a year with little apparent effort, nobody expected him to just stop. But that's exactly what he did.
His own explanation was that after nearly forty operas in less than twenty years he had done more than his share of composing, and since his operas had made him filthy rich there was no reason he shouldn't buy a large house near Paris and devote the rest of his life (he was to live for thirty-nine more years) to his two favorite hobbies, gourmet cooking and gourmet dining.
By all accounts he enjoyed his new lifestyle immensely, but after a quarter century it started to take its toll on his health. In our century, the 21st, a sensible doctor would probably advise this sort of patient to cut down on his calorie intake and get some exercise, but in the 19th the treatment of choice was to send these patients (those who could afford it) to one of the fashionable new German spas that were opening up at the sites of mineral springs in scenically attractive areas.
And so it happened that the ex-opera-composer Rossini spent several weeks in 1856 taking the waters at a place called Wildbad in the Black Forest.
As a paid-up member of the German Rossini Society I had been meaning for several years to go to the annual Belcanto Opera Festival "Rossini in Wildbad", and in the summer of 2006 I finally did it. In two days I saw three rarely-staged operas, only one of which was by Rossini, and a recital of rarely-sung vocal works, most of which were in fact composed by the master himself.
In 1991 the name of the town was officially changed to Bad Wildbad, and since that word now appears twice in its name you might suspect that this town is twice as bad as the other spas. Which it isn't, though it does have that typical spa-like feeling of creepiness about it.
Their advertising features a statuesque young woman swimming in a medicinal pool and then getting a full-body rubdown with mud, for medicinal reasons presumably. But when you arrive in Wildbad you soon realize that statuesque young women are not their main clientele.
Wildbad has had a railway line since 1869, when the Enz Valley Railway was built to bring the rich and the powerful up... more travel advice
Then as now, the Hotel Bären (Bear Hotel) was an elegant and fashionable establishment directly on the Kurplatz in the... more travel advice
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