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

Leipzig Travel Guide: 521 reviews and 1,123 photos

Leipzig is now just three and a quarter hours from Frankfurt am Main by InterCityExpress train, and there are thirteen such trains per day. You don't need a visa, you don't have to change money, and the train doesn't even slow down when it goes through Gerstungen. Times have changed.

Whenever I am in Leipzig I of course make a point of attending one of their fine opera productions. The first was a quite traditional production of Germany's most popular and often-performed opera, The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, followed by a clever modern version of The Bartered Bride by Bedrich Smetana and a seductive Orfeo ed Euridice by Christoph Willibald Gluck.

Later I saw The Tales of Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach (with the American tenor Robert Chafin as Hoffmann) and more recently La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini (twice) and the premiere of Les Troyens by Hector Berlioz (with Robert Chafin as Énée).

Dresden and Leipzig, the two largest cities in Sachsen, have very different-looking opera houses. As you can see from my Dresden page, the Semper Opera in Dresden has three U-shaped balconies and is very ornate on the inside, with warm colors, endless paintings and decorations, and looks as though it was built in the 1840s -- which in fact it was, though it has been destroyed and rebuilt twice since then.

The Leipzig Opera House was designed and built in the 1950s, and is a faithful reflection of the tastes and priorities of that era. It has only one straight balcony, so you have a full view of the stage from any seat in the house. There is lots of wood paneling, but very little ornamentation. The elegant but unspectacular design elements on the walls and ceiling were created mainly for their acoustic properties.

This opera house is not a huge tourist attraction like the one in Dresden, but it's very attractive in its way, and I always enjoy going there. It's a Listed Building now, so when they did renovation work on it in 1992/93 and again in 2007 they were careful to preserve the original ambience of the building.

Leipzig in the 1960s

The only thing I can remember about my first visit to Leipzig is a large grimy restaurant at the station late at night. During the time it took me to have a meal and a couple of beers, three different squads of People's Police came through and checked everyone's identification.

I guess I must have stayed at the InterHotel, as all foreigners were required to do, but I don't remember anything about it. At some point my cousin Manfred drove over from Nordhausen in his Trabbi (this was before they got the Lada) to pick me up.

  • Last visit to Leipzig: Jul 2009
  • Intro Updated Dec 27, 2012
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Reviews (28)

Comments (40)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    Thanks Don, for the interesting tour through this city. I really like the medieval looking town hall.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Oct 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM

      Dee, thanks for your visit to my Leipzig page. Yes, the New City Hall does look somewhat medieval, even though it was built from 1899 to 1905.

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2013 at 6:25 AM

    At university I took a degree in psychology, so many psychologists seemed to be from Leipzig or at least studied there. I've got to go see it for myself some time. Irene

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Jul 13, 2013 at 6:54 AM

      I don't know much about psychology, but I think Wilhelm Wundt was from Leipzig or at least taught there. -- Thanks for your ratings on my Leipzig tips.

    • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
      Jul 13, 2013 at 6:58 AM

      Wilhelm Wundt, now that's a name from my past. Couldn't for the life of me tell you much about him now, but the word gestalt comes to mind.

  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo
    Mar 16, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    another interesting city we passed thru on the train. still suffering the aftereffects, sadly, i see. always learn from your writings ( bach had 20 kids! ) and more. seems every german city has a meaningful history as well as a concert venue or three. enjoyed.

  • traveldave's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    It's a shame that there are so many derelict buildings in what could be an architecturally interesting city. Your experiences entering the former GDR bring back memories of when I crossed the Iron Curtain on a ferry from Denmark, and then entering West Berlin.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Aug 4, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    What a magnificent New City Hall! Shame about the buildings, it makes the city look derelict.

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Sep 14, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    I like your pages on Germany, have such fond memories of my time there. I particularly liked your tip on "No stop in Gerstungen", thank God.

  • johngayton's Profile Photo
    Apr 7, 2011 at 5:34 PM

    Yes it's interesting that whilst Berlin got all the coverage it was the people of Liepzig who changed the course of modern European history. Nice page.

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM

    It's good that the Schiller house survived the encroachment of the city. The austere interior of the opera house reminds me a little of London's Royal Festival Hall, from that era. I would like to visit here, though of course WOULD have to change money!

  • german_eagle's Profile Photo
    Mar 26, 2010 at 3:07 AM

    Fabulous updates here, Don. How could I miss them for so long? Alas, the ICE train connections are going to be worse from Dec 2010 on and the money that goes into the construction of the new railroad tunnel under the city centre doubled ...

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2009 at 12:46 PM

    Don, excellent updates on your fabulous Leipzig page. Since my last visit of your page, I have at least been to Leipzig for 1,5 hours, which was of course not enough for this gorgeous city.


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