Pforzheim is a city of nearly 120,000 people at the northern edge of the Black Forest in Germany. It has a full-scale city theater with its own opera ensemble, orchestra, chorus, acting company and ballet, which is quite remarkable when you consider that the nearby cities of Karlsruhe and Stuttgart both have major opera houses that people from Pforzheim can easily get to.
The current Pforzheim theater was built in the 1980s and inaugurated in September 1990. The main hall, where the operas and plays are performed, seats 525 spectators, and there is also a smaller hall, the Podium, with up to 199 seats.
Attached to the new façade of the theater are some sandstone remnants, which I assume are reminders of an older theater building that was destroyed during the Second World War.
The opera I saw in Pforzheim was The Marriage of Figaro by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791). This is a very popular Mozart opera that I have seen numerous times in various different productions, for instance in Frankfurt, Hannover, Bonn, Stuttgart, the Bavarian State Opera in Munich and the State Opera in Berlin.
The person who got the most applause at the end of the Pforzheim performance was definitely the guest orchestra conductor Inga Hilsberg, not only because she was very good, but also because a lot of people in the audience knew she had applied for the position of General Music Director, and this performance was her audition.
(She didn’t get the job, however. The person they chose was Markus Huber, who was the sixth and last candidate to conduct an opera performance as an audition. As of 2018, Markus Huber is still the General Music Director in Pforzheim and Inga Hilsberg is the head conductor of the Kammeroper in Cologne.)
What most people didn’t know was that this was the first professional performance by a young soprano named Camille Butcher, who at the time was still a student at the Music University in Karlsruhe. She sang the role of Barbarina and did very well, impressing her older colleagues with her lack of any outward signs of nervousness.
After a dozen or so performances of The Marriage of Figaro in the Pforzheim Theater, they also took the opera on tour and played it in various other towns in the Black Forest, such as Nagold and Villingen-Schwenningen.
My photos in this post are from 2007. I revised the text in 2018.
See also: Seventy-one opera houses in Germany.
2 thoughts on “Opera in Pforzheim”
Your passion for opera is unsurpassed, Don. Been in South Africa for three weeks. See you’ve been busy. Have to catch up on some of your recent blogs.
Thanks, Rich. Great to hear from you.