Rossini at the Old Stage

This beautiful old theater dates from 1874 and is still very much in operation despite the recent openings of the new opera house, the new concert hall and the new Royal Danish Playhouse.

The Danish name for The Old Stage is Gamle Scene, a name which provokes giggles among German speakers because in German there is a word gammelig which means decrepit, run-down, tattered, in disrepair — but in Danish it simply means old without any negative connotations.

Old Stage in the rain, from the fifth floor of a nearby department store

OK, the stage machinery isn’t the newest, but the Old Stage is otherwise in very good repair and is still a great place to see a ballet or an opera. As of 2017 the Old Stage is used mainly for ballet performances, but with any luck you might also be able to see an opera there, as I did in 2009.

Statues at the front of the Old Stage

The statues at the front of the Old Stage are of two Danish playwrights, Adam Oehlenschlaeger (1779-1850) and Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754). Both wrote libretti for Danish operas, in addition to plays and other writings.

Passage next to the Old Stage

In the passage next to the Old Stage there are dozens or maybe hundreds of bicycle racks under the archway, so that’s a good place to park your bicycle if you go to an opera there during a driving rainstorm, as I did.

Audience at the Old Stage

The opera I saw at the Gamle Scene in 2009 was “The Turk in Italy” by Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868), sung in Italian with Danish surtitles. (See also my post Rossini in Salzburg.)

“The Turk in Italy” is a comic opera that Rossini composed for Milan in 1814, when he was twenty-two years old, evidently in hopes of repeating the huge success that he had scored with “The Italian Girl in Algiers” the year before.

Then as now, a sequel is usually not as good as the original, but “The Turk in Italy” is still quite clever and funny and is worth seeing if you get the chance. And the music is vintage Rossini.

Balconies in the Old Stage

The staging at the Gamle Scene was lively and colorful, and they even did lots of scene changes mainly by pushing variously-shaped partitions in and out from the wings. The audience was very appreciative. As you can see from the photos, the house was full, or very nearly so.

Intermission at the Old Stage

If you had been in Copenhagen on the 14th or 15th of November 2017 you could have seen Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore at the Old Stage.

Starting in January 2018 an opera called Lulu was shown there — but not Alban Berg’s Lulu, which is the one performed at major opera houses all over the world. Rather, they re-discovered a Danish opera of that name by the composer Friedriech Kuhlau (1786-1832). This Romantic fairy tale opera was a big success when it premiered in 1824, but its popularity was short-lived, and it had not been staged since 1838. (There is a complete recording of it on YouTube, however.)   (And yes, I am listening to it as I write this.)

My photos in this post are from 2009. I revised the text in 2018.

See more posts on Copenhagen, Denmark.
See more posts on the composer Gioacchino Rossini.

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