"Opera in Saarbrücken" Top 5 Page for this destination Saarbrücken by Nemorino
Saarbrücken Travel Guide: 65 reviews and 179 photos
Saarbruecken is the capital of the Saarland and is located on the Saar River just a few kilometers from the French border.
After the First and Second World Wars this area came under French administration. In 1935 and in 1955 referendums were held, and in both cases a majority voted to re-join Germany (90% the first time, 67.7% the second) rather than remain under French or international jurisdiction.
As a reward to the people of the Saarland for voting to "return home" to Germany in 1935, the then-ruling Nazi party had this theater built by the river in Saarbreucken and declared it a personal gift from the Fuehrer (Hitler) to the people of the region. It was inaugurated in 1938 with a performance of an opera by Hitler's favorite composer, Richard Wagner (1813-1883).
The Nazis' original name for this theater was Gau-Theater Saar-Pfalz, later Gau-Theater Westmark. The word Gau means area or district, which sounds innocent enough, but to the Nazis it had overtones of ancient Germanic tribes defeating the Roman Empire. Nowadays it mainly has overtones of Nazi terror, since the regional Gauleiter (Gau leaders) were among the worst of the Nazi thugs all over Germany.
Ironically, the word GAU has since taken on another meaning as an acronym for Groesster Anzunemender Unfall, meaning the worst conceivable accident that could possibly happen, for instance at an atomic energy plant.
The only other new opera house that was built in Germany during the Nazi dictatorship was in Dessau. That one was also opened in 1938, with Hitler and Goebbels and other Nazi bosses in attendance.
Since I had just been to the Saar History Museum and learned about the reprehensible origins and inauguration of this theater, it was a somewhat eerie feeling to go there and see an opera. But at least it wasn't by Wagner, only by Richard Strauss (1864-1949), who as an elderly man had only a brief flirtation with the Nazis before retreating into what is known as "inner emigration" and avoiding any further collaboration with the dictatorship.
Because I had recently seen superb productions of Elektra in Frankfurt and Stuttgart, I was a bit worried that this one in Saarbreucken wouldn't measure up. But it was fine, with the American soprano Jayne Casselman doing a great job in the title role.
How's this for a typical faceless post-war building? On a busy street, across from a parking lot. Yuk. But it's... more travel advice
In 1997 the first line of the Saarbahn was opened. This is a modern light rail system which runs through the city... more travel advice
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