Behind the scenes in Karlsruhe

In 2004, I took a backstage theater tour of the Baden State Theater during their annual Open House. They started a new tour group every ten minutes or so, and said right at the start that they would follow the yellow arrows posted throughout the building, so anyone who wanted to stay longer at a particular place could just stay there and join the next group that came through.

The tour guides were people from all departments of the theater, including a stage inspector, a man from the lighting department and a veteran of the spoken drama section — people who knew the building and the organization extremely well.

The main stage

The first stop was the stage in the large hall, where they were starting to put up the set for that evening’s performance. But they took the time to give us a ride on the revolving stage and explain that this theater actually has three revolving stages, a round one surrounded by two more in the form of concentric circles.

Stage sets including curved bookcases for Mefistofele

The curved bookcases for Mefistofele came on one of the outer rings, so they could be rotated in or out of sight for quick scene changes without interrupting the flow of the music.

Stage manager’s control board

They also showed us the control board used by the stage manager (Inspizent) to call the singers, give instructions to the stage hands and make sure everything happened at the right time.

Talking with the craftsmen who make the props and stage sets

And we saw the various workshops where the sets and costumes are made, and the large room where the backdrops are painted.

The painting room

 Carpentry and metalworking shops in the theater

Part of a statue for a stage set, made on site

My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2018.

See more posts about Karlsruhe, Germany.
See more posts on backstage tours of European opera houses.

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