Pfalztheater (Palatinate Theatre)
Since 1995 this new theater building has been the venue for up to four hundred performances a year in the three columns of musical theater (operas, operettas and musicals), spoken theater and ballet. The main auditorium has 730 seats, and there is also a smaller "workshop stage" with flexible seating for up to 200 people.
The Pfalztheater has its own orchestra and chorus, as well as opera, drama and ballet ensembles. They say there are currently about three hundred people working in the theater, not counting guest artists.
The old theater building was destroyed in a bombing raid on August 14, 1944. After the war they quickly resumed performing in what was intended as a temporary venue in an old movie theater. But this provisional venue remained in use for half a century until the new theater was finally inaugurated in 1995.
Second photo: The Pfalztheater with its entrance rotunda.
Third photo: Entrance to the Pfalztheater.
Fourth photo: The stage entrance.
- Theater Travel
Typical 20th century
That nauseous-looking reddish area in front of the theater is the roof of the parking garage.
You'd think they would at least landscape it or something, but no.
Since this theater was built in the 20th century, the planners' main concern was to provide enough parking spaces for those who insist on driving to the theater in their heart-attack machines.
As an afterthought they also built a rather nice theater, but because of the parking garage you can't approach the front of the theater on foot, you have to sneak up on it from one of the sides.
This sort of thing always reminds me of a snippet of dialogue from an old Billy Wilder film called Sabrina, from the year 1958:
"After all, this is the 20th century, Father."
"Twentieth century? Why, I could pick a century out of a hat, blindfolded, and come up with a better one."
Theoretically no one is allowed to tread on the sacred roof of the sacred parking garage, but I wasn't arrested or even reprimanded for doing so, so I guess in our century they aren't too serious about that any more.
Second photo: The theater and parking garage as seen from across the street. As you can see, the parking garage is directly in front of the main entrance to the theater.
- Theater Travel
Jonny spielt auf, by Ernst Krenek
The name of this comic opera is usually translated as "Jonny strikes up", meaning he starts to play music, as in the phrases strike up a tune or strike up the band (also used in the phrase strike up a conversation).
Which is fine, but the title also can have a second meaning in German, namely "Jonny shows off". I expect the composer had both meanings in mind when he wrote the opera in the 1920s.
As I mentioned on my Kaiserslautern intro page, this opera was hugely popular in the late 1920s and early 1930s, until it was banned by the Nazis as soon as they came to power in 1933.
After the war and the end of the Nazi regime, it took many years before the Krenek's music started making its way back into the repertoire. (This is also true of other composers of his generation, such as Zemlinsky, Korngold, Schreker and Oskar Straus, as I have described in my tip/review called The lost generation of opera composers on my Zürich page.)
The staging of Jonny spielt auf in Kaiserslautern was very funny and up-to-date. They staged it as a computer game. Jonny came in at the beginning, sat down at a computer at one side of the stage, and started playing. The game appeared on a huge screen that covered the rest of the stage. After a few minutes the screen was lifted to reveal singers in shiny vinyl costumes just like the game characters, and they went on with the story.
Despite the computer-game staging, Jonny spielt auf still has a 1920s flapster feeling about it, which is fun though it also makes the opera seem a bit dated, eight decades after its big success.
Second photo: Seating in the theater.
- Theater Travel
K-Town Skyline Countdown # 1
Don't spend a lot of time searching for # 2 in this countdown, because there isn't any.
This building, the City Hall, is the first and only high-rise building in Kaiserslautern. It is 84 meters high (= 276 feet) and has 25 floors.
The notable thing about this building is that when it was built, in 1968, it was the tallest building in Germany. (Not counting other types of structures such as church steeples and television towers.)
But not for long, because a few years later other German cities, Frankfurt in particular, starting building taller ones.
If this building were in Frankfurt am Main it would currently be number 39 in the Frankfurt Skyline Countdown.
Statues at the theater
When you walk up to the theater from the west side you are greeted by this statue of an "African King".
The statue, by the sculptor Gunter Stilling, is made of Carrara marble and is intended to symbolize a traditional theater topic.
Second photo: On the east side of the theater there is another statue by the same sculptor. This one is called "Fallen Angel".
Third photo: This old villa on the west side of the theater, near the stage entrance, is where the offices of the theater administration are now located.
- Theater Travel
- Arts and Culture
Dinosaurs in Kaiserslautern???
The Gartenschau (Garden exhibition), better known as the 'Dino Park' because of its lifesize dinosaur models, is open from April through October and is popular with families. Having begun as a series of botanical displays and enjoying success at the first State Garden Exhibition of Rhineland-Palatinate in Kaiserlautern in 2000, this 54-acre park has been transformed into one of the most multi-dimensional cultural centers in Germany.
The Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern hosts a variety of events in which you can be in the audience and also a participant. Check out their website for more information. I don't think there's an english version, but if you call or send an e-mail in english, they will reply to you in english. They are very friendly and happy to help you discover their wonderful theater program.
- Arts and Culture
- Theater Travel
KL's center of culture (one half)
The Fruchthalle (fruit hall) is situated in the center of the city. It hosts many events throughout the year, but is primarily used for chamber orchestra-type concerts. The cultural department of the city can be found on the first floor. Contemporary art exhibitions are held there regularly as well. Rooms there can be rented out for banquets and private parties. I say the Fruchthalle is one-half the center of culture, because the Kammgarn is probably the other half. Where the Fruchthalle hosts art and classical music events, Kammgarn hosts rock, jazz and electronic music events.
The history of the Fruchthalle is interesting. According to Kaiserslautern's city website, the Fruchthalle is the most important secular building of the Palatinate (area). From 1843-1846, it was built by order of the city of Kaiserslautern according to the plans of the architect August von Voit, and its style reminds of the Florentine patrician palaces of Early Renaissance.
In May and June 1849, history was made in the Fruchthalle, because it was the strategic center of the Palatine Revolution of 1848/49. On 17 May 1849, people's representatives elected the Provisional Government of Palatinate, which was in session in the hall of the Fruchthalle until 13 June 1849. Until 1901, the fruit and grain market of the city of Kaiserslautern was held in first floor of the Fruchthalle. The above two-story banqueting hall is used for festivities, concerts, meetings and exhibitions since then.
This is a remembrance to the Kaiserslautern Jewish Synagogue that was destroyed by the Nazi government in 1938. It is a very cool thing to stop and look at. On all sides of the site, you can look into viewing goggles and see what the building looked like.
- Historical Travel
Park Strasse is a small street on the south side of the Stadt Park where all the houses survived WWII bombs. The houses are very nice to see. It's a small thing to do, but if you're into architecture, and happen to be in KL, then check it out.
The strangest fountain!
It's called the Kaiserbrunnen, or Emperor Fountain, and is supposed to be a three-dimensional history of Kaiserslautern. Both Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and King Rudolf von Habsburg are featured. I don't know why some of the other stuff is on there. The engine probably has something to do with the Opel factory located in town. The elephants? I have no idea! But it's an interesting thing to see.
This is Kaiserslautern's art gallery. It was founded in 1874 as a museum of trades and crafts. The museum building was constructed from 1875 to 1880. Today, its main focus is on painting and sculpture from the 19th to 21st century.
Their website is very helpful, with lots of info on the collection you will find there.
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
KL's center of culture (other half)
According to their website, www.kammgarn.de:
KAMMGARN IS A CLASSIFIED HISTORICAL MONUMENT. THE KAMMGARN BUILDINGS AND COURTS HOSTED A SPINNING FACTORY IN FORMER TIMES, WHICH HAS LEFT A NICE VINTAGE FLAVOR TO THE WHOLE AREA.
KAMMGARN RANGES AMONG THE TOP-VENUES IN GERMANY, AND HAS BEEN PRAISED AS AN INTERNATIONALLY HIGHLY-APPRECIATED, FIRST-CALL, CONCERT-LOCATION (JAZZ, ROCK, BLUES, POP, INDIE) FOR YEARS.
KAMMGARN HAS HOSTED INTERNATIONAL STARS LIKE B.B. KING, MANFRED MANN'S EARTH BAND, PAT METHENY, JAN GARBAREK, MAXIMO PARK, TOCOTRONIC, MADSEN, OR REVOLVERHELD.
KAMMGARN PROMOTED MORE THAN 4,300 EVENTS IN 19 YEARS FOR 2 MILLION GUESTS.
KAMMGARN OFFERS THE LATEST STANDARD IN SOUND- AND LIGHT TECHNIQUE.
KAMMGARN MEANS: THE MOST COMPETENT SOUND- AND LIGHT-TECHNICIANS
KAMMGARN COMPRISES: 2 HALLS FOR ALL KINDS OF EVENTS ('KASINO'; 'MUSEUM2'); A CLUB ('COTTON CLUB'); 2 BARS; A RESTAURANT ('TURBINE'); PARKING AREA AT VENUE
Go to the Stadt Park
The Stadt Park, or City Park, is located in nice little section of Kaiserslautern where some World War II bombs actually managed to avoid destroying a few buildings. So surrounding the park on 2 sides are some original, pre-WWII KL buildings (including one of the only free-standing houses to survive the war). Just like the Volks Park I mention on this page in the Off The Beaten Path, this park attracts many locals on the weekends. I think there are more children at this park though, because there is a huge playground area, and better walkways for kids on bikes.
If you have a child and want to let him or her run wild for a couple hours, this is the place to do it!
It's a library with a main focus on palatinate (regional) issues. There's also a free wireless internet connection. It's one of four libraries in Kaiserslautern: Stadtbibliothek (Municipal Library), Universitätsbibliothek (university library of Kaiserslautern), and Hochschulbibliothek (Bibliothek of Fachhochschule - University of Applied Science).
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