Berlin Concert Halls

Classic gets a redo, a new one debuts

BY DON NICHOLS — Winter 2018

You can now hear arias being sung again at the famed Staatsoper Unter den Linden (staatsoper-berlin.de/en) opera house in Berlin. The 1,356-seat concert hall, originally built in the Prussian classicist style in 1743, reopened in October in the Mitte district after a seven-year renovation costing more than $450 million. The color of the building’s stately exterior was changed to a historic light rose, and major improvements were made inside, especially to the acoustics. The 2018 season includes full-scale premiere productions and symphonic concerts.

Also in the Mitte, in a former storage building for the Staatsoper, Berlin debuted another music venue with a more modern aesthetic last spring. Designed by Frank Gehry and acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota, the Pierre Boulez Saal (boulezsaal.de) holds 683 in an intimate seating arrangement in which no one sits more than 50 feet from a sunken stage. It’s part of the new Barenboim-Said Academy, an intercultural conservatory for young musicians from the Middle East and North Africa. Concerts feature Classical and Romantic chamber music, as well as works by more contemporary and living composers; leading soloists and ensembles from around the world appear regularly.

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