|Dresden Opera House|
|Iconic image: Dresden Destroyed|
There is a spot in the Berlin where Puccini rubs shoulders with Wagner and Guonod. The Deutsch Oper underground stop is lined with ceramic tiles bearing the names of opera composers. On to our base in Leipzig, from where we took the train to Dresden, a journey of little more than an hour for a day of sightseeing and a trip to the famous Opera House home to Semperoper. Given that Dresden had suffered such extensive bombing during the war, I expected to find a modern city, with new architecture replacing old. A surprise then to find a cityscape magically restored to it's former Baroque splendour with no visible cracks. No more so than in the emblematic Frauenkirche. Extraordinary! The elements had wreaked some havoc though and at the city quays, boats remained forlornly at their moorings cut off from their tourist passengers by high water levels.
Promo for Manon Lescaut from Semperoper
|View from Seat 71|
In the evening, we took our seats high up in the gods for a production of Puccini's Manon Lescaut. For a modest ticket price of €11.50, (secured on the day) I didn't expect much of a view but in fact it wasn't bad at all and it was perfect if (a) you are dressed not in glad rags but walking gear and (b) are prone to a little snooze after a heavy day of sightseeing. A-list conductor, Christian Thielemann directed. I include a link to a review that appeared in the online journal, Opera Critic, here.
Dresden boasted a superior class of busker with golden angels and excellent trumpeters adding colour to the scene. Undaunted by the enormous space, Arun was pouring the strains of the Grand March from Aida into Neumarket. It was a cheerful sight 'Ah Ireland- he said when I paused to chat 'I came some years ago to play in Wexford for the festival' said the young Armenian. a human face to all those press reports about wrangles between Wexford Festival and the Musicians Union
|Lucca Birthplace of Puccini|
On to Italy via a cheap Ryanair flight, where we spent a few days in Viarregio, on the Tuscan Riviera. Sadly we were too early for the Puccini Festival held annually at Torre del Lago where the composer had a villa. In Lucca, the composer's birthplace, you can visit the elegant town house house he grew up in before taking in a recital at the 'never ending Puccini Festival'. In a local initiative, Puccini e la sua Lucca, a rotating cycle of recital programmes is offered to a predominantly tourist audience. With lots of tourists in the region looking for some evening entertainment, this seems like a good initiative- We heard
|Golden Angel at Frauenkirche|
There are direct flights to nearby Pisa from Cork during the Summer and train connections from the airport to many towns in Tuscany including Lucca and Viareggio on the coast are easy and very cheap.
|Curtain Call Puccini Recital Lucca|