A few European opera festivals to check out this summer

Granted, Spring has just arrived and we all love seeing the cherry blossoms. While we don’t want to brush over this wonderful season when everything awakens we are also looking forward to long summer nights.
It so happens that Europe bursts into song in summer and here are some pretty magical places where you can enjoy sublime voices.
Here are just a few, there are so many more. In small cities and in bigger communities. Some are in a park, some are right in front of the opera house. Which one will you be attending?

1. Glyndebourne, United Kingdom

Yes, there are long intervals and yes, there is champagne. There are also picnics and strolls around the lake, it is also about opera. Now it i’s 85th year, the magic that is Glyndebourne is still going strong. A trip into the countryside of Sussex is well worth the trip. Tickets are not always easy to get but do try and you might be rewared by enjoying a wonderful opera festival.
18 May-15 August 2019 (Glyndebourne website)

2. Salzburger Festspiele, Austria

It may not need a lot of convincing to attend the Salzburger Festspiele, but in case you do need a push: Cecilia Bartoli is the artistic director! Actually there are two festivals and both are extremely well attended.
The Festspiele take place all over the city and Jedermann is already sold out. Besides, Salzburg is celebrating its 100th anniversary and it is save to say that this years will be even better. Established artists as well as newcomers will take the stage. There will be eight operas, incl. Salome, but also drama. There is something for everybody.
By the way, Salzburg is also the place where the high society from all over Europe meets and networks!
WhitSun: 7-10 June 2019
Summer: 20 July - 31 August 2019 (Salzburger Festpiele)

Jedermann 2018: Peter Lohmeyer (Death), Tobias Moretti (Everyman)  © Matthias Horn

Jedermann 2018: Peter Lohmeyer (Death), Tobias Moretti (Everyman)

© Matthias Horn

3. Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth, Germany

Without a doubt the Wagner Festpiele in Bayreuth are THE society event in the opera world. Tickets are extremly hard to come by. Until recently interested opera lovers had to wait years to get the chance to buy a ticket. However, the Festspiele want to make sure that more people get to enjoy the opera on the Green Hill.
We at Spectacle have been behind the scenes last year. Check it out HERE.
It is legendary how unconfortable those seats are and that is a talk during the interval, but then again, this is Bayreuth. Tannhäuser, Parsifal, Lohengrin, Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tristan & Isolde are on the program this season.
25 July - 28 August 2019 (Wagner Festspiele)

Wagner Festspiele Bayreuth

4. Bregenzer Festpiele, Austria

We call this the James Bond of opera festivals. Simply because its stage has been used in a James Bond movie. Sometimes it is this simple.
The impressive stage is built on water and the World’s biggest floating stage at that! Because of the massive organisation it takes, the opera changes every two years. 2019 and 2020 will be a new production of Rigoletto.
Just like in Salzburg, the whole city of Bregenz is a stage for this cultural festival. The boat trip across the lake from Germany is magical. Don’t forget your sunscreen, sitting by the water with no shade whatsoever!
17 July - 18 August 2019 (Bregenzer Festspiele)

5. Savonlinna Opera Festival, Finland

If you have the chance to travel to Finland for this festival, don’t hesitate. It will be worth your time. For many years this opera festival has established itself as a leading player. Most performances take place in the court yeard of the castle, which adds to the atmosphere. This year Rossinni makes his debut with The Barber of Seville.
4 July - 3 August 2019 (Savolinna Opera Festival)

castle Savolinna festival

6. The Arena in Verona, Italy

This is one on the bucket list and rightly so! The arena in Verona sits smack dab in the middle of Verona and tickets are available for any budget. The highlight in 2019 is certainly the return of Anna Netrebko together with her husband Yusiv Eyvazov for just three performances.
Two years ago we attended a performance of Aida. See our post right HERE.
13 June - 7 September (Arena in Verona)

arena verona opera oper

Opera books for children in German, Spanish, French and English

One of the remarkable things about children, is how quickly they pick up on things. Learning new languages seems to come easily to them. Chances are, if they are exposed early to opera and classical music, they develop a love for it.
Books are a wonderful way to help children understand opera and they are some great books out there. Often they include a cd so your children can not only look at the illustrations, hear the story, but also listen to the music. They are also perfect for adults to brush up on their knowledge.
We have put together books in various languages for you and your children to enjoy and learn from. There are many more books, but we chose the ones that explain the famous operas that are performed.

Children's opera books in German

Left to right:
1. Der Karneval der Tiere (The carnival of the animals) is not an opera per se, but a fun musical suite of fourteen movements by French composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Each movement represents an animal. You can hear tortoises, hens & roasters, elephants and kangeroos.
This book comes with a cd. The Annette Betz Verlag has a lot of books that bring classical music and operas to children and their parents. This book is perfect for kids at all ages.
Karneval der Tiere, 25 Euros.

2. Der Nussknacker (The Nutcracker) is also from the Annette Betz Verlag and a classic. You will be surprised how often you hear the Nutcracker suite in commercials. The beautiful story of Marie and her Nutcracker is a favorite during the holidays and can be used to beautifully to prepare children for their first ballet. It is just magical when the snow falls on stage. This book is perfect for kids at all ages.
Der Nussknacker, 25 Euros.

3. Turandot is one of our favorites around here. The story set in China about the princess and the nameless stranger, whose name she must find out. A story about the victory of love. This book is beautifully illustrated in darker colours. There is no cd and the story is told like a fairy tale. The texts are also visually interesting, as some are written upside down. Text and illustrations were made by Carollina Fabinger for publisher LibroNauti. This book would be a great read for older children around 10 years.
Turandot, 22 Euros.

4. Another Turandot, but very different to the one already mentioned. Opernmouth is a publisher that wants to explain opera easily and they succeed. These books are not only for children but also for adults. Fun illustrations exlain the story in easy words and with a relationships graph. There are more books available such as Carmen or Die Zauberflöte.
Turandot, 12 Euros.


Opern für kleine Hörer (Opera für little listeners) deserves a special mention. These are not books, but a slipcase with 13 cds. Each with an opera such as Zauberflöte, La Boheme or Carmen. Not only do you hear the music, but the story is told. But it is worth noting, that some operas have been motified, so they won't scare children or make the story easier to understand.
Zeit Edition, Opern für kleine Hörer, 90 Euros.


Children's opera books in Spanish


Spanish book publisher Opera Prima Edition Hipòtesi has various opera books in its catalogue and all of them are worth checking out. Each book as a different feel to it. Porgy & Bess is illustrated in bold colours, while Carmen, for example comes in darker colours.  This is also the first time we see Progy & Bess as a book for children. Each book comes with a cd. An illustrated cd and a number in the text indicate which number you should play to accompany the story. The books are recommended for children, who are at least 7 years old. Other books are Aida, La Traviata or Lohengrin.
Opera Prima Books, 24 Euros.

Children's opera books in French


The Paris Opera has a wonderful shop, that also offers books for children. The ones above all come with a cd that accompany the story. Each book is illustrated by a different artist, that explains why each books feels unique. These books are great for children between 5-12 years old.
Opera books from the L'opera de Paris, 19 Euros.


Children's opera books in English

As mentioned before, The Nutcracker is not an opera. But this one is so special that we had to include it. This Nutcracker papercut pop up book by author and illustrator Shobhna Patel is one of the really beautiful books out there. Published in 2017 it is also one of the newest versions, you can purchase. The story is told through text, but also through gorgeous intricate laser cut illustrations. These cut outs are like perfect pieces or art and because of the delicate pieces it is recommended for children older than 7 years.
The Nutcracker, 15Pounds.


The music story books by Big and Small Publishing are special indeed. The story is retold in lavish illustraions suitable for primary grades. The lyrics are highlited and included in the story. But there is more than just the story. The books come with a supplement that contains information about the composer, their works and other interesting facts. Children will also learn about other aspects of music, such as how to read notes and what the difference between opera and musical is.
The Magic Flute, 17 Dollars.

Maria by Callas, a beautiful documentary by Tom Volf

There are names that evoke a strong image in people. Names that are still fascinating to us. Maria Callas is one of those names. Even though she passed away more than 40 years ago, she is still considered one of the most renowned and influential opera singers.
Her life on and off stage, though, is nothing short of Greek tragedy in several scenes. Glamorous and sad at the same time.

Maria Callas, New York 1958 © Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

Maria Callas, New York 1958
© Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

French photographer and film maker Tom Volf came late to the Maria Callas party. It all started a little over five years ago. Through research, after an opera visit, he stumbled upon Maria Callas and like many before and after him, he dived deeper into her life.
Volf spent a lot of time piecing together Callas' life with the help of friends and longtime companions, he befriended along the way. The result is a beautiful and insightful movie about the opera singer, who is often described in superlatives - “Maria by Callas”.

Maria by Callas differs from other documentaries, because here Maria Callas tells her own story. There are very few other people who talk about her. Her story is told through her own interviews and through the many letters she has written.

Tom Volf takes us on a journey that starts in New York in the 1920s where Maria Callas was born. Contrary to many beliefs, Maria Callas was neither Italian nor Spanish. She was born in 1923 to Greek parents. Her relationship with her mother has always been difficult and the family was caught in the crossfire of the Second World War. They stayed in Greece at that time and a young Callas went to the Athens Conservatoire, even though she was actually too young to be accepted. Here she meets Elvira de Hidalgo, her singing teacher in Greece and her lifelong trusted confidante. The movie takes us all over the world with snippets of various performances to the fateful meeting with Aristoteles Onassis on his yacht, where she decides to leave her husband Giovanni Battista Meneghini. She doesn't leave him, because she fell for Onassis. Maria Callas says herself, that she couldn't trust him anymore and that her success has gotten to Meneghini's head. The movies also touches upon the great betrayal of Onassis, when he married Jackie Kennedy, widow of US President, John F. Kennedy. Maria found out about the marriage from the newspapers and she must have been deeply hurt and angry. Again the press was right in her face about this. Pretty much until her death on September 16th, 1977 in Paris.

Last week, Spectacle was able to see a press screening of the movie and here are five things that stood out for us.

  1. In interviews she brushes off the fact she never had children. She said with her career it was impossible to have children. She also considered her career fate and you can't escape fate. Yet in her letters it becomes painfully clear how much she would have loved a family of her own and probably would have given up her career for it.

  2. She was hounded by the press. We have seen this with other famous people in the past, but it was still surprising to see. Wherever she went or when she stepped off a plane, there were cameras in her face and she was surrounded by journalist. One scene particularly stood out. She doesn't want to answer any more questions, especially not about Aristoteles Onassis and a journalist tells her: “Well, if you don't speak to us, we will write negative things about you and there has already been a lot of negative press about you”.

  3. This negative press hurt her deeply. She felt (and probably was) misunderstood. Maria Callas felt obliged to give her best. Always. And if she couldn't do that due to illness, she cancelled the performance. Callas thought it would be worse, if she would give a mediocre performance. She felt she owed that to the composer, to the director and to the audience. Unfortunately the press turned this into a diva like behaviour and the audience took it as an offence. Half truths, lies and bad press hurt her personally.

  4. It is interesting to see how her face changes over the years. During her first years she comes across as harsh, with thick eyebrows and dark eye make up. Once she takes a break from singing and spends the years with Aristoteles Onassis her face is so much softer. She actually looks happy, her voice was better than ever. In her later years, especially after her time with Onassis, you don't see that happiness anymore.

  5. Aristoteles Onassis was the love of her life. That shouldn't be surprising actually. Did he treat her well? Not always! Did he hurt her deeply by marrying Jackie Kennedy Onassis? Without a doubt! But she also talks with a lot of respect and love about him. She forgave him in the end and she died less than two years after Onassis died. Some say a broken heart might have contributed to her death.

Mit Aristoteles Onassis © Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

Mit Aristoteles Onassis
© Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

With Maria by Callas Tom Volf gives a great glimpse into her life and the movie is also a document of the period she lived in.
Personally, I would have loved to hear more about her struggles later in life – how her voice changed, how she wanted to be successful again with a comeback tour and how she spend her last years in Paris. But regardless if these aspects had been touched upon, you will find yourself researching Maria Callas some more. This movie is a treat for Callas lovers. May her work and her talent live on.

Les Grands Interprétes, Paris 1965 © Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

Les Grands Interprétes, Paris 1965
© Fonds de Dotation Maria Callas

You can see the documentary Maria by Callas starting May 2018 in cinemas in Germany, however it is also released in many other countries too.

© 2018 PROKINO Filmverleih GmbH

© 2018 PROKINO Filmverleih GmbH

The Margravial Opera House - a baroque gem

It's Valentine's Day and love is in the air today, also here on Spectacle. While lots of couples gift each other flowers and candy, history has examples of other couples building architectural masterpieces for each other. I'm looking at you, Taj Mahal!
But there is another gem that has received lots of attention, love and underwent restoration in recent years.

Photo: Feuerpfeil Verlag, Bayreuth

Photo: Feuerpfeil Verlag, Bayreuth

The Margravial Opera House in Bayreuth, Germany was built between 1744-1748 and it was inaugerated on the occasion of a marriage in royal circles. Now, that is a wedding present lots of opera lovers would be happy to receive.
It looks like a painting and there is so much to see. From the ceiling to the balconies and to the stage.

Photo: Achim Bunz

Photo: Achim Bunz

Photo: Achim Bunz

Photo: Achim Bunz

For the past six years the Margravial Opera House had to undergo structural conservation and restoration. Damage to the building’s valuable substance, as well as obsolete technology made careful conservation and work urgently necessary. This gorgeous baroque opera house has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2012. It will reopen for the public in April 2018 and with this gem, Bayreuth will be another reason to come by. The other one being the world-famous Wagner Festspiele on the green hill in Bayreuth.
The opera house is one of the only places in the world where you can experience opera the way they did in the 1700s. The first opera that will be performed here is called Artaserse by Johann Adolph Hasse, which is also the opera that was performed in 1748 during the inaugeration. Talking about coming full circle!

If you are not familiar with Artaserse, don't sweat. I must admit I haven't seen this opera on any plan for several years. Artaserse has the reputation of being a castrato fest! As a matter of fact, the most famous castrato of them all, Farinelli, sang in its world premiere.
Here is the plot in a nutshell - Artaserse, king of Persia, must bring his father's murderer – in reality Artabano – to justice. But the main suspect is Arbace, Artaserse's closest friend and lover of his sister, Mandane.
Tickets are on sale now. Get them, while you can on their website.

We predict you will see lots more of this beautiful opera house once it opens its doors again. Do take the chance to see it for yourself. It sure will be worth your time!
Here are the hard facts about this gem.

Opening Times:
April - September: Daily, 9am-6pm
October - March: Daily, 10am-4pm

Find it here:
Markgräfliches Opernhaus Bayreuth
Opernstraße 14
95444 Bayreuth

For more information and also for tickets go to the WEBSITE.


Gift ideas for opera lovers

It could be very easy, if you want to buy a present for an opera lover. You could get some tickets or perhaps (even easier) get a cd. But then again, you could do better. And we just might have some ideas for you.
We put together a gift guide for the opera lover in your life and perhaps you find that special gift or get an idea what to buy. One option, where to look for that special gift, are (online) shops of operas such as The Met or Opera in Paris. They are treasure troves of gifts and stocking stuffers for opera lovers.

Gift guide opera lover .jpg

No. 1: If there is one occasion you can dress up for, it is the opera. The opera loving woman can do that in this gorgeous floor length halter neck gown by Maria Lucia Hohan via Moda Operandi in a colour that suits just about any skin tone and hair colour (1,277 Euros).

No. 2: Sputnik are these gold embellished earings called and they are inspired by the chandeliers at the Met Opera in New York which look just like it (48$).

No. 3: We don't let the gentlemen go without! Just like the chandeliers for the ladies these cufflinks are inspired by the chandeliers at the Met Opera in New York (54$). 

No. 4: Talk about a pot of gold! This honey was harvested from the hives on top of the roof of the Palais Garnier (15 Euros).

No. 5: Some things just never go out of style or at least shouldn't. Just like this vintage opera set for ladies that includes binoculars, a fan and a small mirror. It is from Argentina and was manucfacured around 1880! Things like this have its price (700 Euros).

No. 6: From personal experience I can tell you that I have wished many times I thought to bring some binoculars along to the opera. Nokias white binoculars fit into every purse and are featherlight (200$).

Rubber ears and a recipe for blood - Backstage at Staatsoper Hamburg

Backstage is where the magic happens and it is a lot of fun to look behind the scenes, checking out the props and admire the craftmanship in the make up department. Instawalks are my kind of jam and I'm always happy when I see an opera inviting Instagramers to come by. A few months ago we were backstage at the first Instwalk at the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth and a few weeks ago Staatsoper Hamburg opened its doors.

Not always are journalists or bloggers invited to go. Often people who "just" enjoy the arts are invited. Do like the venues in your area on Facebook so you won't miss an announcement and you have the opportunity to be part of an Instawalk as well.

All photos below have received the app treatment.


The Hamburg State Opera is one of the oldest in Germany and was founded in 1678, it is one of the leading operas around. It has been awarded "Opera House of the year" twice in the past and everybody who is somebody has been standing on this stage. The house itself went through lots of changes and had to be rebuilt after massive damages during the second World War. Finding out interesting details about the routine backstage is what I enjoy most.
A detail like this one: Per contract it is forbidden for artists to use the elevator right before a show. Nobody wants the main voices to be stuck in the elevator!


Our walk started in the basement in between shelves of props. There is always lots to see in clear plastic containers, leaning on walls or hidden in corners.


And when you look into the small kitchen you might even leave with a recipe.
In this case "Blood" - edible and washable.
For one litre of water you'll need:
- 1 tbsp beetrood powder
- 1 tsp. guar gum
- 1 tbsp. instant coffee
This is a service announcement.


I like how the things are grouped together and also how creative prop masters need to get in order to create wonderful sets.
From the basement we went up to the hair and make up department. As it is often the case -  theatres and operas are keepers of crafts. Wigs are handmade, sometimes with the help of unusual props but often strands of hair are used to create the wigs. One hair at a time.


Let's take a closer look at the head in the front of the photo. That's what I meant when I mentioned sometimes the props are "unusual".


Yes, sometimes rubber ears will have to do.


Does this device look familiar to you? You might remember that we looked behind the scenes of the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth this past summer (catch it HERE). The make up department of Bayreuth and Hamburg both use these heaters to heat curling irons and work on the wigs. If it ain't broke - don't fix it, right? 


Here is a confession: I would have loved to be a theatre actor. I played a rock in elementary school and if you believe my mother, I was the best rock that ever graced a stage. Perhaps that is the reason I love to get on stage and enjoy the view into the audience?


Thank you Hamburg Staatsoper for having us! Look for #staatsoperhh on Instagram to find more backstage shots from my home town.


Aida at the Arena di Verona

"I won two tickets to see opera at the Arena in Verona” my friend Mela and travel blogger, wrote, "do you want to join me in Verona? We could make a weekend out of it”. I immediately answered yes, opened a new tab and looked for a flight from Hamburg to Verona.
Opera in Verona has been on my bucket list for quite some time. I have to admit, I don't do too well with heat and Italy in July is hot. But this was a chance I couldn't pass up. So in late July, I took a flight to sunny (very sunny) and hot (very hot) Verona to join my friend in this beautiful city.
The Arena di Verona sits in Piazza Bra with many, many bars and restaurants around it. I kept saying it looks like a movie set. During the season, the sets for the various operas are kept right on the piazza. Since the Arena is just huge and the maximum attendance is 15.000 people, the sets are also massive and impressive.


The Arena di Verona Festival

The Arena di Verona Festival is a festival of opera that takes place each summer, this summer was the 95th year. The performances take place at dusk and you can get tickets right at the Arena. The first operas were performed in 1913 to celebrate Giuseppe Verdi. So it was just right to perform Aida, one of the most famous operas. We were able to choose the opera we wanted to see and we picked Aida. Actually, there are two Aida productions. One is a modern version of the classic and the other is a historical production from 1913, which is the one we attended. The historical production of Aida 1913 is traditionally the opera that closes the opera season for the summer. For Aida, the amphitheater is turned into ancient Egypt with palm trees, temples and obelisks. Even horses are coming out on stage.

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

© Ph Ennevi/Courtesy of Fondazione Arena di Verona

Backstage at the Arena di Verona

We reached out to the press office to see if it is possible to interview artists or take a look backstage. The people over at the press office have been nothing but kind and supportive. We had the chance to come backstage before the show and be able to conduct several interviews.

Here are some photos from the backstage area.

An outlook to 2018

The 96th Opera Festival 2018 program includes Carmen, Aida, Turandot, Nabucco and Il Barbiere di Siviglia and takes place between June 22nd and September 1st, 2018.
Get all the info over at the website of Arena di Verona.

Be sure to book hotels in advance, they sell out very quickly.
We had the pleasure to stay at B&B Oberdan. This charming B&B is less than five minutes away from the Arena.

Bring your own seat cushion! Especially when you have seats on the stone steps of the arena. You will have a hard time to make it through four hours of opera without one. Attending one opera in this location will be well worth it!

Going where no phone has gone before. Backstage at Bayreuth with #bfinstawalk

If I said it once, I have said it 1000 times: attending the Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth is on an opera lovers bucket list. And what is on the bucket list of an opera and Instagram lover? An instawalk, that takes you backstage at one of the most iconic locations around. That's what!

Book pages have been filled with information about this festival. And tabloid magazines. Each year you see politicians, actors and royalty in Bayreuth. But what you don't get to see, is a good look at what goes on backstage. Well, wait no more. I got you covered.

All the following photos have been taken with my iphone and have gone through the filter treatment.

The Bayreuther Festspiele changed the "no-photo-policy" to a "yes, please, take a photo of everything. Except for the Meistersinger costumes" policy" this past weekend. After a call to apply to take part in the #bfinstawalk on Facebook, ten Instagrammers were chosen and roamed the green hill.
If there is still a doubt how special this opportunity is, just take a look at Instagram and see what you can find when it comes to Bayreuth. That's right! Besides the mandatory selfie you won't catch a glimpse. That will change now.

Richard Wagner designed and oversaw construction of the Richard-Wagner-Festspielhaus, which only performs Wagner operas. Every year since 1876 (with some exceptions) ten of his works are being shown here.
The main building is often called barn. Quiet obvious why, no?

Up the stairs and into the auditorium with about 2000 seats. Richard Wagner wanted nothing to distract a patron from the music. There is not a lot of flourish going on and the seats...oh, those seats! It is legendary, how uncomfortable these can be.
From personal experience I can tell you: it is all true! Wooden seats, not a lot of cushioning, no arm rest. But then again: this is Bayreuth, so suck it up, buttercup.

Our tour led us also backstage! And that is where the magic happens. Looking behind the curtains and seeing all the details that director Frank Castorf and his team thought of when bringing together the set for the Ring Cycle.

We had the chance to speak to the assistant of Frank Castorf, Patric Seibert. Hearing from him what the thoughts behind the set are and how things came together, helps a lot to understand.
Since we were able to see the set in action, it made the "Götterdämmerung" that more tangible.

I always love to set foot into the make up and costume area. There is always so much to see. Besides I totally admire the craftmanship that goes into making wigs, costumes and the make up itself. Coming from someone that barely can do her own make up!

The #bfinstawalk was finished off with tickets to see the rehearsal of "Götterdämmerung". I have to admit, I thought the rehearsal would be a summary of the performance. Things would be tried out, others would be changed. An hour, two max., I was sure.
But I was wrong!
The rehearsal is also attended by 2000 patrons and it is the complete "Götterdämmerung", the whole four hours plus breaks. Tickets are given out to the staff of the Bayreuth Festspiele, who in turn pass them on to friends and relatives.

Don't miss out on the other Instagrammers to see what they noticed during the #bfinstawalk. The following list was put together by @kulturfluesterin and saved me some time! Thanks, Lena!
Also do follow the Richard Wagner Festpiele on Instagram and Facebook. They are doing a great job showing you even more backstage details.


This instawalk was worth every minute of my 12 hour train ride to and from Bayreuth! Thank you very much to Richard Wagner Festspiele for the wonderful tour and for taking me along. I will talk about this for years to come.


We are going to Bayreuth for an Instawalk! Wagner Festspiele here we come.

If there is such a thing as a bucket list of opera lovers, the Richard-Wagner-Festival in Bayreuth is on it!
Each summer since 1876, with a few exceptions, opera lovers and Wagner admirers descend upon the Green Hill to listen to one (or all) of Richard Wagners works. The history surrounding this iconic location is long, exciting and interesting, to say the least. The performances take place in a specially designed theatre, that Wagner himself oversaw. Getting tickets is not an easy task, some patrons have to wait for years to walk through those halls.

And Spectacle is one of the lucky ones! No, we don't have tickets. As a matter of fact, our deal is so much sweeter. Before the festival starts (July 25th, - August 28th, 2017), the Wagner Festspiele, have organised an Instawalk this coming Saturday, for a few lucky Instagrammers and I'm part of this. 
The official Instagram channel of Wagner Festspiele is already giving people a great insight and it just adds to the exitement of seeing it for myself.

I'm so so excited to be able to walk around and take a look backstage. That is certainly a look not even ticket holders are getting.

Follow either me or Spectacle on our Instagram to get an insight look into Bayreuth this Saturday, July 22nd, 2017.

Jonas Kaufmann makes his role debut as Otello and you can be very close. As close as a cinema lets you.

If you had to name an opera singer, whose name is not only known to opera lovers but also appears in the popular press, who would you pick? Jonas Kaufmann, that's who!

Jonas Kaufmann is often described with terms that are meant to be complimented but fail miserably. He once was described as dark chocolate by a German magazine. But there is more to Kaufmann than just being handsome.
After rather rough last months during which Jonas Kaufmann wasn't able to sing because of a haematoma, he is now back on stage.
He chose a big stage and a big opera for his comeback. He will perform Otello at the Royal Opera House in London, where he gave his debut in 2004.

Of course, you can shell out serious money and sit in the audience in London from June 28th to July 15th, 2017, but if that is not in the cards you can head to a cinema near you and watch Jonas Kaufmann live there!
On June 28th, various cinemas in Europa broadcast Otello live for opera lovers near and far. Find a cinema right HERE
Verdi would approve!

What is Otello all about?
Spoiler Alert!!

After being gone for quite some time, the governor and general of the Venetian fleet Otello is expected home not only by his people but also by his new wife Desdemona and not a moment too soon because Roderigo is in town and has his eyes set on Desdemona.
Iago is the bad guy in this opera and look out for him! He pretends to be a friend to Otello but he is pretty angry that Otello promoted Cassio instead of him and is willing to help Roderigo win over Desdemona.
Yes, those are the kind of friends everybody needs.
During a celebration, Cassio gets drunk and gets into an argument with Roderigo. Thanks to Iago's meddling.  Otello is mad at his soldiers and strips Cassio of his promotion.
Iago isn't done just yet. He convinces Cassio he should speak to Desdemona who could convince her husband to not punish Cassio. Unfortunately, Otello is a hot head and quite jealous. Of course, Iago is in his ear too and soon he is convinced that his wife has something going on with Cassio.
Then there is the issue with the handkerchief! Desdemona wants to wipe away Otellos seat, he is not having any of it and tossed the handkerchief to the ground. It ends up with Iago, who uses it to prove to Otello that his wife is two-timing him.
A delegation makes Cassio the new governours of Venice and that is all too much for Otello. He hurls abuse at his wife in front of the delegation. When Desdemona gets ready for bed and Otello visits her one more time. And how does Otello deal with disappointment and anger? Well, in opera he naturally strangles his wife! When Iago's plans are revealed Otello is so distraught, that he kills himself. Naturally.  

Get all further information over at The Royal Opera House.

Last Night at the Met

People watching is always fun. At the opera especially because you can take a closer look what other people are wearing. Since 2013, Rose Callahan is the exclusive photographer behind the fashion blog of the Metropolitan Opera “Last Night at the Met”.
Here she documents and highlights the fabulous fashion of opera attendees, who strut their stuff through the grand foyer.

Photos by Rose Callahan for  Last Night at the Met

Photos by Rose Callahan for Last Night at the Met

During twenty-six nights all through the season, she attends one evening of each production, she is looking for the unicorn. Not every night is a good night though. She works with a small time frame and sometimes she has a good night with lots of styles and other nights it is a scrabble to find the one worth highlighting.
What does the unicorn look like? “It seems, what I notice the most are colours, sometimes the way they do their hair or great style in general”. Once the unicorn is spotted Rose approaches the person, explains why the person caught her eye and that she shoots for the Met style blog. An assistant takes care of the paperwork.

Photos by Rose Callahan for  Last Night at the Met

Photos by Rose Callahan for Last Night at the Met

The dress code at the opera is the topic of an abundance of websites and forums and Last Night at the Met doubles as an inspirational guide as to what could be worn. Rose herself loves to get dressed up, but her intentions are to show how to have fun with style and how people respect the venue by dressing up. Dressing up is in the eye of the beholder and the Met is a great place to do that since there is not a real dress code, that will be enforced. So, give that tuxedo and the ball gown an evening out, open up the safe to get your hands on your grandmother's jewels, but also be comfortable in a pair of jeans or some hot leather.

Photos by Rose Callahan for  Last Night at the Met

Photos by Rose Callahan for Last Night at the Met

I think it is important to dress up. It shows respect to the venue, but also to show off the beauty of the evening. I just don’t think it has to be a certain way
— Rose Callahan
Photos by Rose Callahan for  Last Night at the Met

Photos by Rose Callahan for Last Night at the Met

With the popularity of the website and the Instagram account growing, it is no surprise that attendees are not only flattered to be asked but they also share their excitement that they finally got to meet Rose Callahan to be featured. She even has her "regulars", attendees she sees often during the season: like THIS fashionable couple.

Photos by Rose Callahan for  Last Night at the Met

Photos by Rose Callahan for Last Night at the Met

If you ever find yourself at the Met, make sure to be on the look out for Rose Callahan and maybe you find yourself on the blog to highlight what you wore Last Night at the Met.

All of the above photos and so many more can be found on
Website - Last Night at the Met
Follow on Instagram - Last Night at the Met

Also make sure to check out more work from Rose Callahan on her website and her Instagram. She has also published books on Dandy style and her project about bartenders is this editors favorite! 

10 opera houses to check out on Instagram. Even if opera isn't your thing.

Opera is boring? Hard to understand? Just for the posh?
Naturally, we cannot agree on this. However, we are sure we can agree on one thing: The opera houses itself are just stunning. Some are filled with red velvet, heavy ornaments and the biggest chandeliers, others are modern with lots of glass and fresh architecture. But all of them worth following on Instagram.
If those walls could talk, we would hear some good stories, don't you think?
There are many more beautiful opera houses in the world, but since we have limited space we narrowed them down to the ones we like the most.

1. Teatr Wilki, Grand Theatre and National Opera in Warsaw, Poland

Teatr Wilki takes "Grand" to a new level. It is one of the biggest theatres not only in Europe but in the World! If only for the WOW-factor you should follow them.


2. Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia in Valencia, Spain

Yes, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia looks like a helmet or even a cruise ship! But there is more than meets the eye. This amazing building located in Valencia, Spain was designed and constructed by a son of the city, Santiago Calavatra. It rises more 14 stories high, but there are also three more stories below ground, making it the tallest opera house in the world!

Así de bonito luce hoy nuestro edificio con el día tan azul que ha salido. #operavalencia #cac #ciudaddelasartesylasciencias

Ein Beitrag geteilt von Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia (@palaudelesarts) am


3. Guangzhou Opera House in China

Guangzhou Opera House is not very active on Instagram, we give you that. Instagram is blocked on mainland China. But this opera house was designed by the late architecture genius Zaha Hadid. So it is safe to say, this is an Instagram-worthy building. The program is very international with companies from all over the world making a stop at this granite masterpiece.


4. Den Norske Opera & Ballett in Oslo, Norway

If you have never seen the Norwegian opera house in your life, how would you imagine the Norwegian opera house would look like? A modern structure, a clean design, lots of glass and just a Scandinavian look?
You would be right on all points.
Den Norske Opera & Ballett does a great job to take you backstage and show you all the details and interesting titbits that make opera and ballet so much fun and entertaining.


5. Drottningholms Slottsteater in Stockholm, Sweden

The Drottningholm Palace Theatre is special by all accounts. One of the few 18th-century theatres left, this opera house is located on the grounds of the Drottningholm Palace where the Royal family resides. The stage machinery is still operated by hand and today it is recognised as international cultural heritage significant. Follow them for lots of details of a time long gone. This opera house will certainly transport you into an exiting past. 


6. Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona, Spain

There are opera houses and then there is Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona. The rich facade spills over into the inside of the opera house. Dynamic shapes meets lots of colours. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that not only brings opera to its audience but also jazz and Cançó.


7. Opéra National de Paris, France

Everything you ever thought you would see in an opera house, that was founded under the sun king, Louis XIV, you will get at the Opéra National de Paris. Long staircases, lots of gold and heavy velvet, yes, Louis XIV would still love this house!
Not only the house is worth to look at, also the Instagram channel. The Paris Opera found a way to make their channel a lot of fun and you should take the time to check it out every once in a while in its entirety, not only photo by photo.
Don't miss out on the other, modern opera house that Paris has to offer Paris has another - Opéra Bastille.


8. Sydney Opera in Australia

No list of beautiful opera houses without mentioning the iconic Sydney Opera. It sure is one of the most famous buildings in the World. Since this venue is not only used for operas but also for various concerts, it has a beautiful restaurant and you could even climb to the top if you dare. All of that can be seen on the very active Instagram channel.


9. Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy

Some things go together like peanut butter and jelly. Opera (and ballet) and La Scala is one of them. The whole account is filled with beautiful photos of dancers and singers on stage and in rehearsal. Did you know that the most critical audience sits in the "loggione", the least expensive seats? If these patrons don't like what they see, they will let you know. Just ask Roberto Alangna, who was booed off stage in 2006!


10. The Metropolitan Opera New York, USA

It is true, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Not a singer of distincition what hasn't been on this stage! This channel shows you great photos from the past and present and even the occasional marriage proposal that takes place with the MET as a gorgeous backdrop.