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News

25 Nov 2004

On Opera in Berlin

The Real Drama of Berlin Opera Berlin's three opera houses are no strangers to eluding closure and nursing the wounds of financial incision. Although they are currently on safe ground, they're having to learn to sing for their supper in...

The Real Drama of Berlin Opera

Berlin's three opera houses are no strangers to eluding closure and nursing the wounds of financial incision. Although they are currently on safe ground, they're having to learn to sing for their supper in unison.

As the only city in the world with three opera houses in its cultural repertoire, Berlin is sitting on a genuine gem. But making it dazzle to full potential is not entirely straightforward. The reality is that bright lights and fanfare cost money, Berlin is broke, and culture is desirable prey for the swooping hand of municipal cost-cutting.

Yet somehow, and maybe against the odds, the operatic trio has managed to secure its continued existence. Thus far at least. Unlike the city's ballet, which was compressed from three into one at the end of last year, opera in the German capital enjoys the backing of a strong lobby, and nobody really wants to see any one ensemble forced into a final bow.

But change is of the essence if the music is to keep flowing.

"Right now the attitude is, 'Oh goodness, we've got three opera houses, what shall we do with them,'" Torsten Wöhlert, the spokesman for the city state's minister of culture, told DW-WORLD. "That has to change, and tourists coming to Berlin have to start coming for the opera as well as the museums."

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