"Opera and cycling in Weikersheim" Weikersheim by Nemorino
Weikersheim Travel Guide: 36 reviews and 86 photos
Weikersheim is a pleasant country town in the Tauber Valley, 63 kilometers upstream from Wertheim and 37 kilometers downstream from Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
The surprising thing about Weikersheim is that it has a renaissance castle (Schloss Weikersheim) with a sizable formal garden modeled after the one in Versailles.
You can always hear some kind of music coming out of one wing of the castle, because it contains rehearsal rooms for young musicians who are learning under the auspices of Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland, the German section of "the world’s largest youth and music network," Jeunesses Musicales International.
Every second summer, in the odd numbered years, Jeunesses Musicales conducts an opera course in Weikersheim. Young singers and musicians work together under professional leadership to produce a complete opera, which is presented open air on nine evenings in the inner courtyard of the Weikersheim castle.
In the summer of 2003 I saw their production of Carmen by Georges Bizet and in 2005 La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi. Unfortunately I couldn't come in 2007 for La Cenerentola by Gioachino Rossini, but in 2009 I saw three performances, with somewhat different casts, of the German opera The Merry Wives of Windsor by Otto Nicolai (1810-1849), based on the Shakespeare play of the same name.
This is a pleasant light opera which used to be popular in Germany but is no longer played very often, the main reason being that Giuseppe Verdi's last opera, Falstaff, tells the same story, but better. The really brilliant parts of Verdi's opera are just spoken monologues in Nicolai's version -- and Nicolai left out the character of Mrs. Quickly, which is really a shame, because she is one of Shakespeare's funniest and quirkiest creations.
Since Nicolai died shortly after the world premiere of The Merry Wives of Windsor in 1849, he never knew that his opera was later upstaged by Verdi's Falstaff, which didn't appear until forty-four years later in 1893.
I don't know if Nicolai and Verdi were personally acquainted, but in the early 1840s they were both living in Milan, where Nicolai for a while was more successful with his operas than Verdi was. Verdi's big breakthrough came in 1842 with his opera Nabucco -- using a libretto which had first been offered to Nicolai, who turned it down. (Nicolai was not a big fan of Verdi's operas after that, and he soon left Italy in a huff.)
Please have a look at my General Tips on this page for more on the Weikersheim summer opera productions in 2011, 2009, 2007, 2005 and 2003.
Update: If you are lucky enough to be in Weikersheim in June/July 2013 you could see an open-air performance of Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni in the castle courtyard, performed by up-and-coming young singers and musicians.
If you have some time before the opera starts, be sure to take a tour of the castle. Lots of the rooms still contain the original furniture and tapestries from the 16th to 18th centuries.
Weikersheim is also a good starting point for a bicycle trip. In my “Off the Beaten Path” tips I show some of the places along the Tauber River that I went through on my bike between Weikersheim and Wertheim, which is where the Tauber flows into the Main River.
Update: Another really good thing to do in Weikersheim is to walk or cycle the Weikersheim Planetary Trail, which I have described in detail on my Queckbronn page. Queckbronn was a separate village for most of its history, but in January 1972 along with nearby Schäftersheim it was incorporated into the city of Weikersheim.
Photos: 1. The Foreigner, by Guido Messer (1989) 2. Full view of The Foreigner, with his suitcase 3. Ecce homo, by Guido... more travel advice
Photos: 1. Harmonium 2. Loom 3. Washing utensils The Tauberländer Dorfmuseum (Village Museum) also has an old harmonium... more travel advice
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