Lindau Puppet Opera: Swanlake Pas De Deux. Christian Flemming

Lindau/Germany: Why Opera-goers adore Puppets on Strings

19.05.2023

When these shapely legs are swung high during the rehearsal for the Swan Lake performance, they are not made of flesh and blood. Nor, in fact, are any of the lissome corporal parts belonging to the remarkable cast acting on the miniature stage of the Lindau Marionette Opera (House): they are puppets on strings choreographed and directed with an expertise and finesse that leaves any audience open-mouthed with bafflement. And that doesn’t just account for the ballet troupe bobbing their tutus in tune with Tchaikovsky’s legendary Swan Lake ballet: there are works by Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Strauss, Bizet and Humperdinck on the programme as well. But, how is it accomplished to elicit credible emotions from actors sculpted from wood? Carving features to augment the illusion of changing mien is the craftsmanship their creators are excelling at!

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The Empire State Building: High ambitions

10.05.2023

What’s feasible?

1929: „How high can you go so it won’t fall down?“ John Jakob Raskob (one of the executives representing the Empire State, Inc.) is said to have asked the architects of the prestigious new edifice, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon. The main objective being to devise the highest building not only of New York City, but of the entire world. Initially they had hoped that 80 daring storeys should suffice. Yet, there was a fierce mine-is-taller-than-yours competition going on in NYC in the first third of the 20th century and construction of the rivalrous Chrysler building was already in full swing when Raskob’s project just got started. Walter Chrysler’s building did become the tallest one, albeit temporarily. In the end, he was outraced by just a few meters of the finest Art Deco architecture shining brightly over 350, Fifth Avenue.

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Down by the Riverside: Glasgow’s Museum of Transport and Travel

11.04.2023

Whenever a building has been designed by Iraqi-born star architect Zaha Hadid, it is destined to become an award-winning landmark that attracts maximum attention. The Riverside Museum, Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel set on the north bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, profits from a combined power: the magnetism exerted by a contemporary architectural shell of attested refinement and the veteran exhibits restored to enchant present and future crowds. The Riverside accommodates more than 3,000 objects that profoundly document the city’s transportation-linked past – maritime and otherwise.

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Berlin-Neukölln: From problem child to clubbable prodigy?

5.04.2023

It is presumed to be the most colourful, multinational and omnicultural of Berlin’s districts: Neukölln, whose reputation – up to the not too distant past – could be considered controversial at best. Predominantly low-income (German) residents alongside a high rate of immigrants touching the 40 per cent mark have been benefitting from affordable rents and trying to make ends meet remote from posh Berlin areas. Different beliefs; traditions; habits; tongues; skins or dress codes hailing from alien ethnic backgrounds not seldom ignited the precarious potential for social conflicts. Better-off Berliners and visitors to the city alike preferred to stay at a safe distance for a reason. Yet, by avoiding the confrontation with an often bleak reality, they simultaneously missed out on “glamour” of a quality only thriving in microcosms such as Neukölln.

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The Smetana Hall + Obceni Dum in Prague

Prague: Obecní dům – a Genius Loci of fine Art Nouveau

25.02.2023

Great sculptors and painters of their time have created an architectural treasure, whose masterly opulence bears witness to their genius to this day. Jan Preisler, Mikoláš Aleš, Max Švabinský, František Ženíšek, Ladislav Šaloun, Josef Mařatka, Josef Václav Myslbek or Alfons Mucha – names difficult to pronounce – were but a small fraction within the remarkable group of skillful artists involved in building and decorating Obecní dům – the Municipal House located right in the heart of Prague. Since its inauguration in January of 1912, the extraordinary building has served as a splendid stage for atmospheric concerts, grand festive balls as well as fancy fashion shows and is justly listed a national heritage site. Its protagonists – the Smetana Hall and the Municipal House Restaurant – alone may well be worth the trip to Prague, from whichever corner of the globe it may have to commence.

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