Verdi’s Troubadour in the opera tent

The Kuppeltheater (‘dome theater’) was originally built in Freiburg, where it was used for two years while their theater was being renovated. Then it was taken down and moved to Erfurt, where it stood for four years while their new opera house was being built. And after that it was moved over to Kassel, where it was used for two and a half years, from September 2004 to December 2006 while the unsightly 45-year-old State Theater (Staatstheater) was undergoing a much-needed refurbishment.

In the lobbies of the Kuppeltheater in Kassel

Since the Kuppeltheater was basically just a big tent, you could hear some noises from outside, particularly from the trams stopping at the nearby tram stop. But aside from that the acoustics were quite good. Also there was a good heating system, so nobody had to freeze in the winter.

Behind the theater there were seventy containers which served as dressing rooms, make-up rooms, offices, cloakrooms, etc.

Stage set in the Kuppeltheater

The opera I saw in the Kuppeltheater in Kassel was Il trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). I was afraid I might be disappointed because I had just seen the same opera a few weeks before in a spectacular open-air production on the lakeside stage at Bregenz, Austria.

But I needn’t have worried. The Kassel production was very different and of course much more intimate, but just as good in its own way.

As the audience came in, the stage was already in full view — there was no curtain, anyway — and several eerie figures wearing long black coats and gas masks were walking slowly around the stage, setting the mood for the coming opera scenes.

Outside the Kuppeltheater at night

After two and a half years in Kassel, the Kuppeltheater was moved to Heidelberg, where it was used for the same purpose under the name “Opera Tent” while the Heidelberg City Theater was being expanded and rebuilt.

My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2018.

See also: Salome in the opera tent (a different opera tent) in Liège, Belgium.

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