"Opera and cycling in Giessen" Gießen by Nemorino
Gießen Travel Guide: 38 reviews and 68 photos
Hello and welcome to VT's first (but no longer only) Giessen page!
It's actually spelled Gie?en, but VT has trouble with that, replacing the letter ? with a question mark most of the time. So I'll write it the second best way, because all those question marks are getting on my nerves.
Giessen is a city with 73000 inhabitants, located on the Lahn River in the center of Germany, about 60 kilometers north of Frankfurt. Besides being the home of the Justus Liebig University, Giessen has a City Theater with 600 seats and a full program of opera, drama and dance.
The Giessen City Theater has just been voted Best Theater in the category Abseits der Zentren (away from the centers, or off the beaten track) by the critics of the magazine Die Deutsche Buehne (The German Stage).
By the way, the winner in the category Gesamtleistung (overall performance) was the Frankfurt Opera.
I have only been to one opera performance in Giessen thus far, but it was one of my favorite operas, L'Elisir d'amore by Gaetano Donizetti.
This opera was the source of my VT member name (see my homepage) and is one I have seen many times in Frankfurt, but also in Darmstadt, Halle, Paris and Vienna.
The unusual thing about the Giessen production was that they sang it mostly in German translation, not in the original Italian. This can be a problem especially for the singer of the quack doctor Dulcamara, who has a devilishly fast patter aria to sing in the first act, to introduce himself and the all-purpose remedy he is trying to sell, and in German it's much harder to sing so fast.
Another danger of doing it in German is that the arias might sound a bit cloddish in German translation. There's no way around it, a line in German like "O wie anmutig" just doesn't sound as good as "Quanto e bella, quanto e cara" in Italian (so you young fellows coming to Germany, take my advice and don't try using "O wie anmutig" as a pick-up line in the disco, it won't work).
I was wondering how they were going to handle the most famous aria, "Una furtiva lagrima" towards the end of the second act, since this is one that just about everybody knows from Pavarotti in the Three Tenors concerts, if no where else. Well, to my relief, the singer in Giessen simply switched from German to Italian at this point, and everyone was happy. He was from Central Asia or someplace, so both German and Italian were foreign languages to him, and he did fine in both.
For 31 months from January 1977 to the end of July 1979 Giessen did not exist as an independent city, because it had been forcibly merged with the neighboring city of Wetzlar to form the new city of "Lahn" -- their automobile license plates even started with L, which now means Leipzig.
Neither the Giessonians nor the Wetzlarians (if I may coin two terms) were at all pleased with this merger, and after numerous public protests and a lost election for the party that did it, the merger was revoked as of August 1, 1979.
For more about Wetzlar, have a look at VT's first (but no longer only) Wetzlar page, by pepples46.
While cycling around Giessen (or Wetzlar) you will notice that most pubs and restaurants serve Licher beer, which is brewed in a nice little town called Lich just off to the southeast. To find out all about Lich and vicinity, have a look at VT's first and only Lich page, by Weissdorn.
For a general introduction to Giessen in English, click on this link to the page Why Giessen, which was developed by the Faculty of Medicine of the Justus Liebig University as an orientation page for prospective medical students.
Friedberg is a town on the railroad line between Giessen and Frankfurt. The regional express trains all stop there, and... more travel advice
The Lahn River flows through Giessen, but not through the city center, so you won't see the river here unless you go... more travel advice
Nemorino's Related Pages
Gießen Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Giessen - Wissen ist Macht (Knowledge is Power)"
- "Opera and cycling in Giessen"
- "University Town in Hessen"
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