Allgemein, überdiesAn englishman in Mannheim: The Third Candle

Lighting the Third Candle in our Advent Wreath


“Good tidings we bring to you and your kin”


Rather appropriate for this time of year; I bring some good tidings to all those living in Mannheim that struggle with the German language. The theatre has two productions at present using English Surtitles: Beethoven’s Fidelio and Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny).  Both are masterpieces in their own right: with sublime music and complex, intriguing and captivating plots.  With a little background reading beforehand, and the addition of the English Surtitles, one can now feel fully involved in the drama even when one does not speak German fluently.

For all those who have not yet ventured to the opera, Mannheim has some incredible productions on offer over the Christmas festive period, and the two forenamed German works are among the best.  So newcomers to the theatre can feel fully relaxed during a visit, I have thought of 5 questions you may have and hopefully 5 useful answer.


How do I get to the theatre?

There is parking around the back of the theatre for cars if you choose to drive but it is rather limited and I would always advise more environmentally friendly modes of transport.  There are good facilities to secure bicycles and the No.2 tram stops directly at the theatre (the ‘Nationaltheater’  stop).


What do I do with my belongings?

If you have been hurriedly finishing your Christmas shopping in town and it is a spontaneous decision to visit the theatre, fear not, there are full length lockers that can be used to store your belongings in.  The lockers require a 1€ coin but this is returned after use.  If you just have a coat, there is a manned cloakroom, but note; they do not accept bags.


Where is best to sit?

This is based entirely on personal preference.  For me, the operatic voice is best heard from distance.  However, overtones of each voice and each instrument carry differently in each theatre.  In Nationaltheater Mannheim, in general, I think the back of the stalls is best to get the optimum overall aural experience.  Visually however, I enjoy having a side-on vantage point. I feel I can experience more interesting angles of a performance from there, so I always opt for a side box.  I would recommend you experiment.  You will soon find the perfect place for you.


Is there a dress-code?

No. I have found the general attire of the audience is dependent on which opera and on which day of the week it is. But there is no use second guessing.  Dress up or down. 


After the show?

Casino. If you have not been, then you should.  It is a small, intimate but friendly bar located just around the corner from the theatre.  Frequently, cast and crew from the evenings performance will find their way there. It is a pleasant place for all to unwind after an opera.


Daniel J. Farrimond