At first glance, the Konstabler Wache in downtown Frankfurt might seem like an unpromising venue for an open-air opera performance. This is one of the least distinguished public squares in Europe, if not the world, and is bounded on one side by a busy street with bus, tram and automobile traffic.
At second, third and fourth glance it doesn’t get any better.
I never realized how many low-flying aircraft there are over Frankfurt until having them as ambient noise during the opera Nabucco, by Giuseppe Verdi. Police and ambulance sirens (the typical German ta-ti-ta-ta) helped to fill any odd silence that might have ensued, as did groups of drunken pub-crawlers outside the fence.
All this didn’t stop the promoters from selling some 1500 tickets (my estimate) at premium prices. The cheapest seats cost EUR 30, which was roughly three times the cost of the cheapest seats at the Frankfurt Opera that year, 2004, on a Thursday night. Despite its obvious disadvantages, the Konstabler Wache is after all highly accessible by public transport, and Nabucco is a very popular opera.
The orchestra, chorus and singers were from the Silesian State Opera in Bytom, Poland.
As a spoiled Frankfurt opera goer, I try not to get arrogant or overly critical in this sort of situation, but I’m afraid the orchestra and conductor were quite awful and the chorus was just so-so. Fortunately the main singers were OK — not outstanding, but at least they were competent professionals doing what they were getting paid to do and bringing it off reasonably well.
Other plus points:
- It was a beautiful summer evening.
- Some of my friends were there.
- We had some beers.
- Verdi’s music is so brilliant that nothing can drag it down.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2021.