Stopera - Cityhall and Opera House, Amsterdam
On the train to Amsterdam I had a chat with two lovely young women who had just graduated from college in Florida. When I mentioned what I was planning on doing in Amsterdam one of them said: "I suppose you'll be getting really dressed up for the opera?"
I had to disappoint her. "No, I'm just going to put on a tie, but otherwise I'll wear what I'm wearing right now." I was already wearing a clean shirt and a crumpled blue jacket, so with the addition of a tie I said I would be in the upper third of male opera goers. (Which turned out to be true.)
It is a common misconception that operas are terribly formal affairs, with tuxedos for the men and evening gowns for the women. This is no longer true in most places, though there might be exceptions in some parts of the world. One of the young women from Florida said: "My mother sometimes goes to the opera in Mobile, Alabama, and she really gets dressed up for that."
Second photo: More people in the lobby of the opera Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam.
Third photo: A young woman checking the text messages on her cellphone during the intermission. The reason I took a picture of her is that she is sitting approximately at sea level, in fact if the water were to come rushing in she would probably have to move up one or two steps to avoid getting her feet wet.
Fourth and fifth photos: People leaving the opera house in Amsterdam after the performance.
Later out of curiosity I looked up the website of the Mobile Opera and discovered that they put on exactly four performances per year, two of an opera and two of an operetta. They don't say anything about a dress code, but with this kind of schedule I could well imagine that each individual performance is a big occasion and that people would dress up accordingly.
Here's a quote from their website:
Opera is the ultimate art form. This incredible synthesis of music and drama stimulates the mind and enlivens the soul!
If anyone from the Gulf Coast region happens to read this, I hope you'll support the Mobile Opera and attend their performances -- and post tips about them here on VirtualTourist.
Be sure to arrive at the opera house well before show time so you can enjoy all the great views from the windows of the various lobbies. You can see canals, boats, bridges and fine old Amsterdam houses.
Not many other opera houses have such nice views from their windows. Mainz is one. And the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris has great views from its upper terrace. Can you think of any others?
VT member Canage writes: "Is there anything in this world to beat the view from the Sydney Opera House?" (Seems to me I've seen lots of photos OF the Sydney Opera House, but never any FROM there. And I've never been there, unfortunately, but I'm happy to add Sydney to the list.)
Additional photos: More views from the Stopera.
As I'm sure you remember from your high school geometry class, a regular polygon is a closed plane figure in which all sides and angles are equivalent. The more sides there are, the closer it resembles a circle.
The Amsterdam Opera House has the form of a regular polygon with I suppose about twenty sides, which would make it an icosagon. Actually they didn't build all the sides, just the ones that are visible from the streets and canals. The circular or nearly circular form is continued inside the building. The lobbies are curved, the orchestra pit is curved, even the downstairs toilets are curved.
Although the official name of this opera house is Het Muziektheater, it is known locally as Stopera, which is a combination of the words Stadhuis (City Hall) and Opera. That's because the City Hall is part of the same complex of buildings that were built all at the same time in 1986. In the photo you can see the City Hall off to the left.
Second photo: Canal boats anchored near the opera house.
Third photo: People on bicycles going past the opera house.
In May 2006 the Amsterdam Opera put on nine performances -- all of the same opera. In that same month the Frankfurt Opera put on eighteen performances of six different operas.
This is because Amsterdam is on a strict stagione system, which means doing only one opera for several weeks, then scrapping it and doing another one. I'm sure this is cheaper than the modified repertory system in Frankfurt, but it would be highly unsatisfactory for someone like me. (So I'm not going to move to Amsterdam, okay?)
The opera I saw in Amsterdam -- the only one they were playing that whole month -- was Simon Boccanegra by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).
Although most of the Amsterdam opera productions get good reviews, this one didn't, and after seeing it I'm afraid I have to agree with the reviewers that it was a somewhat lame effort. Which was not the fault of the singers, more of the conductor and the stage director. Too bad about that. I just happened to have picked the wrong month to visit Amsterdam, at least as far as the opera was concerned.
There were no Dutch names listed on the playbill, by the way. The conductor and the entire production team were Germans, and the singers were mainly Italians.
By the way, on my ticket it said: Het Muziektheater is een rookvrij theater.
With a little help from some nice VT members on the Amsterdam Forum I figured out that this means: The Music Theater is a non-smoking theater.
Second photo: Here you can see part of the audience and part of the stage. If the stage set looks rather abstract, that's because it was.
Third photo: People in the lobby.
Fourth photo: The Stopera at night after the performance.
Opened in 1986, the Music Theatre of the Netherlands is here in Amsterdam. They have ballet, opera, theatre and contemporary dance. If I was staying in Amsterdam again I would definitely pay this place a visit!
Feb 07 - I paid this place a visit - not to see a concert but to see the wonderful "Music Rises Up" bronze in the floor of the foyer of the Stopera. It is an amazing work of art - rumoured to be by the Netherland's own Queen Beatrix - whoever created it .. it is just brilliant.
The translation on the plaque reads:
Like the mushroom puts her tender hat,
stormy through the rough forest ground.
So the music rises from the unexpected depths,
up with forces, that break the marble.
Het Muziektheater has opened its doors on 23 September 1986. The building houses De Nederlandse Opera (Dutch Opera) and Het Nationale Ballet (National Ballet), and there are guest performers from around the world. It is one of the most modern theatres in Europe.
A remarkable new building within the Amsterdam centre is the "Stopera". This name is a joining of tow words: Stadhuis (Cityhall) and Opera. This combined force has resulted in a very great modern architecture that still is in balance with it's historical surroundings. The project met much resistance at first, but now most - even most critical - people are satisfied with the result. In the "Music Theatre" - which is a synonym for the stopera, the National Ballet is performing often. A state of the art ballet on world standard.
Cees Dam was the final architect together with Holzbauer. A design was approved in 1980 by the town council, the provincial state and the government.
When the building started, riots broke out. The building had to be laid still for a month but on September 23 1986 the Stopera was officially opened.
I think the Stopera can best be appreciated inside.
The Stopera houses the town hall of Amsterdam as well as an opera house/theatre which in turn houses the National Ballet and Dutch opera.
Dating back as far as 1915, the town council planned a new opera house and town hall. Years later the idea came up to combine the two and a design was made but rejected in 1964. Several sites for the new buildings were considered: Frederiksplein, the Dam and finally Waterlooplein.
Tumultuous times began after a design competition was one by Viennese architect Wilhelm Holzbauer. He designed an opera house for the Frederiksplein but protest initiatives emerged for that location.
All initiatives came to nothing until Holzbauer suggested in 1979 that both buildings could be combined.
The historical Weesp knows many monuments. For example our impressive City Hall that was built by Jacob Otten Husley (18th century). The tower, three different entrances and the stairs give the building a picturesque look.