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

Bern Travel Guide: 642 reviews and 1,927 photos

Bern and the Aare River, from Großer Muristalden

In the summer of 1961 I suddenly and unexpectedly became the beneficiary of funding which would allow me to study for two semesters at a European university of my choice.

Since time was short, I immediately sent off letters of application to several German-language universities. The first one to reply was the University of Bern, which accepted me as a student within days of my application.

I later learned that this was highly un-Bernese behavior on the part of the university administration, because in the rest of Switzerland the Bernese have the reputation of being very slow in everything they say and do.

One of my fellow students taught me this riddle:

What's this?
Boom. ? [long pause] ?
Boom. ? [long pause] ?
Boom. ? [long pause] ?
Answer: a Bernese machine gun.

Actually I found the Bernese to be very quick, especially when they were speaking among themselves because I didn't have a clue what they were talking about. Although the official language in this part of Switzerland is High German, which I had learned in school and college in the United States, the vernacular is something entirely different called Bärndütsch (Bern German), which is a distinct variety of Schwyzerdütsch (Swiss German), which in turn is a variety of Allemanisch. So to speak.

On a visit to Bern in June 2008 I saw a very lively and clever production of the opera Il barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868).

Dr. Bartolo was a dentist in this production (which was a new one on me). The star of the evening was the Swiss mezzo-soprano Claude Eichenberger, who studied in Bern and is now a member of the Bern opera ensemble. She played Rosina as a raucous and self-assured young woman, and she sang her first solo while waxing her legs, ripping off the waxed cloth at the high point of each verse.

This was the last performance of the season, on a warm summer evening with lots of other things going on all over town, but Bern's theatergoing public of all generations nonetheless turned out in force to cheer their local orchestra and singers.

The audience was just as enthusiastic in December 2012, when I attended a performance of the opera Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) at the City Theater in Bern.

  • Last visit to Bern: Dec 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (28)

Comments (55)

  • Oleg_D.'s Profile Photo
    Aug 13, 2015 at 11:27 AM

    Thank you for tip on the city from my travel wish list.

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      Aug 14, 2015 at 9:41 AM

      Oleg, thanks for your ratings and comments on my Bern and Basel pages.

    • Oleg_D.'s Profile Photo
      Aug 14, 2015 at 11:35 AM

      You are welcome. These cities and theirs wonderful museums are in my travel wish list but every year i fail to visit.

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Feb 18, 2015 at 4:17 AM

    Thanks for the interesting tour through Bern. It looks and sounds like an interesting city.

  • Odiseya's Profile Photo
    Jan 5, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    I enjoy in virtual tour trough Bern. It brings me a good memory on short trip from 2012 but also give me and other better perspective about city and learn more about culture. Thank you for that!

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo
    Nov 24, 2013 at 4:16 AM

    I enjoyed reading your Bern page very much! Very good information.

  • IreneMcKay's Profile Photo
    May 31, 2013 at 5:59 AM

    Have not yet got round to visiting Bern, but it looks greatrom your photos and tips. Irene

    • Nemorino's Profile Photo
      May 31, 2013 at 1:35 PM

      Thanks for your visit to my Bern page. It's a nice town. I hope you can go there sometime.

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Jan 22, 2013 at 2:52 AM

    Thank you Don for visiting my new La Granja page. I'm surprised to be the first to write on VT about the Spanish Versailles. Indeed most visitors are Spaniards.
    I'm getting a bit worried about the copyright policy of museums and palaces after what I read on the VT forums. When photo's are not allowed I use to illustrate my comment with a pic from Wikimedia, the photo and work of art being in the public domain, but now I prefer not and deleted a couple of photos inside the Granja Palace.

    Interesting updated comments on Bern. Never stopped there; too much in a hurry to reach Italy!

  • yooperprof's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2013 at 7:44 PM

    I'd always heard that Bern was a sleepy place, but it looks like there's actually quite a lot going on there. I'd definitely be interested in going to see the Paul Klee Center there!

  • Regina1965's Profile Photo
    Dec 29, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Good updates and new tips on Bern.

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Dec 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM

    Lovely page, Don! I wasn't aware of the Einstein link or the fact that this is your alma mater ...
    Switzerland doesn't usually feature on my radar (I'll allergic to the prices and the intransigent command-and-control mentality), but perhaps this would be worth a foray?

  • Redang's Profile Photo
    Aug 21, 2012 at 6:26 AM

    I liked very much!!

Nemorino Used To Live Here!


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