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.
The NAP a.k.a. Normaal Amsterdams Peil (Amsterdam Ordnance Datum).
The NAP has been set in 1700 being the high watermark of the Zuiderzee and act as the bases for the constructing of Dutch buildings ever since.
One of the oldest marks is still visible at the Eenhoornsluis in the Korte Prinsengracht. The stone reads: ‘Zeedijks hooghte zijnde negen voet 5 duym hoven stadspeil.’ This is the only remaining indication from the former ones in the eight locks.
In 1956 a pole was driven into the earth beneath the DAM square with a bronze knob on top indicating 1.43 meter above NAP. This knob is located 90 centimeters below the pavement and the hole is covered with a lid.
In the basement of the Amsterdam City Hall (Stopera) there are three water columns representing:
-The Northsea tide at IJmuiden
-The tide at Vlissingen
-The highest level reached during the flood of 1953 (4.55 meters above NAP).
The columns are designed by Louis van Gasteren and Kees van der Veer and inaugurated in 1988.
Winter: Th-Sa: 10AM - 5PM
Spring & Fall: We-Sa: 10- 5PM
Summer: Daily: 10AM - 5PM
Admission: Euro 4.--.
The first Calvinist church in Amsterdam designed by Hendrick de Keyser in 1603 (built between 1603-1611) - the tower was completed in 1614 only. It's a pseudo-basilica with many details in renaissance style.
Since 1929 the church is not anymore used as a church. From 1988 used by the city planning department and for exhibitions.
The Portuguese-Israeli Synagogue was built in the period 1670-75 by Elias Bouman and is inspired on the architecture of the Temple of Salomo in Jerusalem. The synagogue is located on the Mr. Visserplein. This area used to be the heart of the Jewish Quarter.
The building rests on wooden piles and the foundation vaults can be viewed by boat from the water underneath the synagogue.
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.
You can never be sure what you might find in the flea market at Waterlooplein---take your time, do not be in a hurry and you might find a really cool item.....I have found erotic prints, Lourdes collectibles, books and comics, and all sorts of goodies here....
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.
It is funny the today's "MOZES-huis" (Mozeshouse) never had been dedicated to Mozes and used to be an old church with a long history. The name was because of 2 statues of Mozes and Aaron elsewhere in this neighbourhood of the Waterlooplein. These statues still overlook the Waterlooplein as you can see on the outside.
Looking like a Roman temple in Baroque style the white Mozeshouse is not a church anymore and used now for educations. People without work may look for lessons, includes artists, art painters and other. Info available inside.
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