The opera Idomeneo, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, is on the program of the Augsburg Theater again this season. I haven't seen it in Augsburg (yet), but I've seen beautiful productions of it in Bremen and in Frankfurt am Main.
Idomeneo was Mozart's twelfth opera, written when he was twenty-five years old (in 1781) for the court theater in Munich. The libretto was in Italian, by a man named Gianbattista Veresco, who lived in Salzburg.
The creation of Idomeneo is very well documented because Mozart was in Munich when he was composing the opera, and he wrote daily letters about it to his father Leopold Mozart in Salzburg. Leopold then had to negotiate with the (touchy) librettist Veresco about all the changes his son wanted in the text.
Though Idomeneo is not performed as often as Mozart's most popular operas Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte and The Magic Flute, the composer himself considered it one of his personal favorites.
In addition to Augsburg, the opera houses in Houston, Cologne, Meiningen, Munich, Rennes, Salzburg and Stuttgart also presented Idomeneo in the first half of 2005.
Update: A fantastic new production of Idomeneo is running at the opera house in Frankfurt am Main as of March 2013.
Augsburg owed its wealth and political influence to its status as Reichsstadt (Imperial City). The only governor the city had to accept was the emperor himself, which actually meant political independence. Augsburg was not subdued to any prince and also not to the bishop who resided in its walls. The magistrate was the government. The city owned and ruled a territory of its own in the surroundings.
The Holy Roman Empire Of German Nation was no centralized state like the kingdoms of England or France. It was more like a loose association of states who cooperated (or not) under one common head in matters that concerned the whole empire but otherwise acted like independent states.
The gable of the city hall bears the heraldic symbol of the double-headed black eagle, the imperial coat of arms, to show this status. The gallery of Roman and Christian emperors in the Golden Hall, the Augustus fountain in the main square – all these refer to the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire and Augsburg’s position in it.
The Reformation in the early 16th century had actually aimed at a reform of the one Church - the result was separation, fights and finally war between the different confessions. The Augsburg Religion Peace Treaty of 1555 ended the war and accepted the Lutherans as a church with equal rights as the Catholics. The peace treaty also confirmed the right of the princes to decide about the confession of their entire territory and population.
As exceptions from this rule, the peace treaty, which had the legal value of a constitutional law, accepted those imperial cities where both Catholics and Protestants had been living side by side for decades - Augsburg and Regensburg being the most important among them.
In Augsburg, the three former monastery churches of St Ulrich and Afra, Holy Cross and St George were returned to the monastic orders. The protestants built new churches of their own next to them on the same site. The phenomenon of the double churches is a specialty of Augsburg.
Fondest memory: Two examples of these double churches are still visible: the towering St Ulrich and Afra with the much smaller protestant Ulrichskirche at the southern end of Maximilianstraße, and the two churches of the Holy Cross in the northwest of the old town.
Visit the Rathaus platz. Here you can sit in one of the many restaurants and cafés, have a nice glass of beer while surrounded by the beautiful, colourful, buildings.
Also in the square you will find the tourist information office where you can get a map of suggested tours of the town.
You must not go on Sunday. As with the rest of Germany, most things are closed!
Fondest memory: I was in Munich for a month and had planned a day trip to Augsburg since I arrived there but things always seemed to push it off, whether it was the weather or lack of someone to go with. It sounded a bit lackluster to me but there were some interesting beers to be hunted and that would only be fun if I had a partner in crime. When push came to shove, only Hanna was really willing to take the time to accompany me, and glad she did. The weather was dreary and once we arrived on a Sunday morning, it was soon apparent that most things were closed. It was bad planning on my part but we made the best of it and went on a small photo shoot despite the gloomy skies. I’m sure under better conditions, the town would hold its own but it was not so spectacular to override the bad weather. I soon was consulting my beer guide for places to drink/eat and we made our way to my first choice, only to find a dilapidated and obviously out of business Mexican restaurant. I had to admit my 1994 guide was a bit out of date though it had served me well in other cities around Germany. Another place was close by and this one looked more promising but on arrival it was obvious it was closed as well. It still existed but it was closed on Sunday! Having a look around at it, I noticed a sign for Hasenbrau on a small pub up the street and though it was lunch time and we looked for a nice place to have one, I had to at least see if they had the beer in question as it was the main reason for my coming to Augsburg in the first place. We ventured into the small one room dive much to Hanna’s dismay and sat at a table as three locals filled the small bar. I was ecstatic once I saw the menu, as they appeared to have the full lineup of Hasenbrau products. There was weisswurst on the menu as well so I was quite satisfied with my choice and Hanna was good-natured if not enthralled with the place. It was awful out and they had five beers I had never tried so we spent a couple hours there and soon the locals became bemused with my trying every beer on the menu and asked where we were from. Hanna spoke with them in German at first, but once they knew I was American, they answered in English. I found this very polite and funny but Hanna kept speaking in German, and was a bit annoyed at their answering her in English. They got a kick out of my beer guide and the outlandish number of beers I had sampled over the years on my travels around Germany. Eventually, I had tried them all and we decided it was time to move on. We bid farewell to our new friends who gave us directions to a cemetery, as this was Hanna’s favorite thing to see. It was a bit out of the way, but it was my turn to be a good buddy and accompany her there. I still had two more beer places to visit and couldn’t count on such an easy time as in this one. I just might need some help later, and Hanna was not only a good drinking buddy that spoke the local language, she had a good sense of direction too.
In about 15 BC, the romans founded a military camp on a narrow strip of land at the confluence of the Wertach and the Lech. By the 1st century AD it had become the capital of Rhetia, Augusta Vindelicorum. The town retained its importance in the Middle ages, and the rise of the great merchant families of Fugger and Welser eventually made Augsburg one of the most influential of all the trading and financal centres in Europe.
Fondest memory: Take a walk around the city. There are some beautiful houses and churches in the city centre, which shows the rich history of this nice city.
Also don't miss to visit one of the nice cafés and restaurants in the centre of Augsburg. Click on the picture to see the Afra church.
Favorite thing: The Rathausplatz is the center of Augsburg and home to many celebrations and festivals, as well as many nice street cafe.