Up to now I have seen opera performances in four Swiss cities — Zürich, Bern, Geneva and Lausanne — but never in Basel, even though their opera company has an excellent reputation and I know several people who have sung or conducted there. I suppose the reason is that Basel is quick and easy to reach from Frankfurt (less than three hours on the frequent ICE trains), so I always assumed I could go there any old time, which was true until the coronavirus pandemic set in, and might hopefully be true again sometime in the future.
So I’ve never even been inside the theater in Basel (where they perform operas as well as dance and drama), but I did go there once in the summer and tried to take some photos from the outside. I was surprised to find that the current theater building is a concrete Klotz (German for ‘chunk’) from the 1970s. Somehow I didn’t succeed in finding the proper angle to get a good photo, but I’m not sure if this is my problem or the architect’s.
Later I did some clicking around and learned that the current theater was built just behind the old theater. After the new building was inaugurated in 1975, the old theater was blown up. I don’t know exactly why they did this, but I assume the old theater from 1909 must have been in pretty bad shape.
One of the strange things about the theater building in Basel is that on one side the roof reaches nearly to the ground, meaning that people are tempted to climb up and walk around on the roof, which is forbidden.
The reason I took this photo is because of the quaint second sentence on the sign: Fehlbare werden unter Kostenfolge polizeilich verzeigt. This means, evidently, that people who disobey the rule (about not walking on the roof) will be reported to the police and fined. It is written in High German, not Swiss German, but the way it is formulated is very different from the way the Germans would say it. Fehlbare in Germany would not be people who disobeyed a rule, but people who are fallible, i.e. all of us except the Pope. Also, I’ve never seen the word Kostenfolge in this connection before, or the word verzeigt in any connection — in Germany it would be angezeigt.
My photos in this post are from 2008. I revised the text in 2020.
See more posts on Operas in Switzerland.