Nov 09 2012

Frankfurt Smile

Published by at 8:16 pm under PSO 2012 European Tour

Alte Oper, Frankfurt

Alte Oper, Frankfurt

Der Alte Oper in Frankfurt is an elegant edifice with a square to itself facing the amazing skyscrapers of the city. Before the concert, I wandered down the shopping street leading away from the opera to the GoethePlatz, named for Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the writer who inspired so many composers. A gigantic statue of Goethe is surrounded by shopping and restaurants and One GoethePlatz, a new building under construction.

I looked in Hugendubel, “Die Welt Der Buche” (The World of Books). It is a terrific store. Chairs were set up for an imminent author’s reading. Holiday decorations were out in full force. The was fake snow in a can, dozens of DVDs including Rudolf mit der Rote Nase, and a Casper the Friendly Ghost Christmas story. Lot of interesting calendars for the new year in large format featuring artists and one 38 Euro calendar of The Best Cafes in Europe that really tempted me. Featured artists included Horst Janssen, a collection for the Der Blaue Reiter, Gabriele Munter, and Frank Kunert. The store is a book lovers’ dream, like the much-missed Borders. Hugedubel is on four levels with escalators.

Christmas books at Hugendubel

Christmas books at Hugendubel

On the St. Katherine’s square the church bells rang at 6:00 pm. It has a plain interior, and only a few people praying. Quite the contrast to Notre Dame in Paris with hordes of tourists swirling about during the mass. There had been a 30-minute organ recital earlier. Outside the church, a group was protesting in solidarity with a group of prisoners on a hunger strike.

I had gulaschsuppe, and a side of krautsalat in Ebert’s Suppenstube with a piece of rye bread as part of the deal for 6 Euros.

At the Viennese-style bakery Heberle, I bought a Kreppel smile: a cream doughnut with a smile on it just like Eat ‘n’ Park’s Smiley cookie. When I asked for the Kreppel, the clerk said “the Smiley?”

Pittsburgh Symphony on stage in Frankfurt

Pittsburgh Symphony on stage in Frankfurt

The sound in the Alte Oper was great. Three encores once again, with part of the Khachaturian Galop clarinet solo devoted to the Dvorak Ninth and part Die Frau Rauscher, a tune known to Frankfurters according to Michael Rusinek, who told me he did his research for indigenous music on the Internet.

There have been beautiful flowers delivered to Manfred Honeck at each city since Paris.

A huge lobby bar is a lively spot during the Frankfurt intermission. Giant pretzels on six racks spanned the width of the long bar. Pleasant waitresses with smiling faces deliver your beer, coke, or champagne. I had a Possman Apfelschorle, a sparking apple juice.

A defiant Jim Cunningham

A defiant Jim Cunningham

The entrance into the hall from backstage is clearly labled “Kein Durchgang” (Don’t go through) — but everybody does. If you look closely, you’ll see an old “Pittsburgh Symphony on Tour” sticker on the air duct above the door.

I wanted to try Frankfurter Grüne Sosse (green sauce), a local specialty, but there just wasn’t enough time.

A reprint from the paper Frankfurter Algemeine featured Lorin Maazel on the cover in a caricature. He told the reporter that he never conducts music he doesn’t like.