Thursday, 23 June 2011

An Entertainment at Bad Lauchstädt

Here are the famous German writers Goethe and Schiller strolling together in a gentlemanly way at Bad Lauchstädt, a small town near Halle and Leipzig in what used to be East Germany.   If I'd been around myself in those days I suppose I would have identified with that charming lady. 

Both Goethe and Schiller are associated with one of the cutest little theatres I've ever been in, all made out of wood, and built in 1802 (to Goethe's specifications).  Since it doesn't have much in the way of insulation and modern conveniences, it's only used for summer productions these days, but attending performances there gives you a feeling for how much more intimate and personal theatre must have been then, as compared to now.

 I went to a crazy Baroque opera written by an unknown composer called J.D Heinichen.  Heinichen's job was to write at top speed to entertain the many merchants who congregated at Leipzig and wanted shows to entertain them in the evening.  So by 18th century standards, what I saw was more of a musical than an opera, and definitely not highbrow.

Here's a scene - as you see, it's in a sort of Arabian Nights setting.  I'm not quite sure who's being trundled off in the cart.  It's a real romp with catchy music and no particular plot, but lots of dancing, singing and some inspiring feats of athleticism from Joszef Gal (in the fez) who leaped about all over the place.  The audience loved it.

Another scene here, showing the goddess Diana (I think) shooting someone or other.  Honestly, it doesn't matter who. It was that kind of opera.

The little theatre sits near the centre of town beneath some tall trees. It's painted in authentic colours of blue and yellow, and when we arrived we sat outside in the sun for a bit, and then took a walk around the town (which is almost a village). it's quiet and attractive, and an old spa, as its name suggests.

One of these old houses (facing a lake) was a coffee shop.

The lakeside pavilion's copper roof echoes the shape of the town church spire 

Those coming to take the waters could stroll in a large and well maintained park with little shops, fountains, banks of geraniums.....

and an aviary with canaries.

Back at the theatre, the performance began while it was still light, and two  rather tough looking little boys in blue velvet suits were guarding the door, fairly determined not to let anyone get in without buying a programme. 

 The interior was decorated in original style, with coral pink, grey and white.

The orchestra pit was so small that you could literally have got up from your seat, as I did, and leaned over the dividing bar and turned the musicians' pages for them. (No, they were only tuning up, not performing when I took this shot) 

Although June evenings are long, the performance was long too, and by the time the interval came, it was dark.  They obviously can't have had theatre bars in the early 19th century, but the management have created a bar was in a little wooden caravan outside.  I wonder what they originally did for restrooms - the present day ones are some way away from the main theatre.

After a coffee and a pretzel, we returned to watch the second half. It finished at nearly midnight - hours of non stop singing, dancing and jumping around for the performers.  I suppose those Leipzig merchants expected value for money.

One day, I hope to revisit Bad Lauchstädt, and see another historic performance at this unusual little theatre.


  1. sounds a charming way to spend an evening - if you have the stamina!

  2. I love historical theatres. I saw there is a campaign to save Wiltons music hall in London. Have you come across it

  3. how gorgeous all this is ! thanks for sharing! loved the pictures and i really want to visit the coffee house by the lake : )

  4. <<< the goddess Diana (I think) shooting someone or other. Honestly, it doesn't matter who. It was that kind of opera. >>>

    Most opera is that kind of opera to me, LOL! Great photo's of the area.


  5. You know what - I don't get to travel too much - that is one reason I love blogging! I get to see and hear about places I've never even heard of! That was a great trip for me - thank you. I'm your newest follower!

  6. Lauchstädt looks like a great place to visit! I like your detailed travelogues... guess I'll be following your blog!
    Thanks also for your comment - glad you like the pics!

  7. Wonderful to see a blog on opera. I was just searching today for a piece of music that I could have sworn I'd known the title to. I thought it was from Bizet, but none of my google or music searches turned it up. Opera is on my mind too!

  8. Glad you liked this post. This was one of the highlights of that trip to Germany for me. It was so unusual, and curious.

  9. These photos are really fantastic.


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