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A trip down memory lane in one of Europe’s most theatrically cultured and musically sophisticated capitals fails to deliver the operatic riches expected of it. Professor Anthony Ogus nevertheless finds consolation in less urbane circumstances

Over the years, Berlin has had an enduring fascination for me. In no other place have I had such a direct encounter with modern history. There was, in 1975, first the sight of the Wall dividing the city and, from the Western suburban train which looped around it, the curious experience of being on the other side, but not being able to alight. Then a day later, when visiting East Berlin via Checkpoint Charlie, finding a totally alien world: an overwhelming impression of dark streets and decaying buildings, a joyless atmosphere with few people around, even in the formerly elegant Unter den Linden boulevard. There were also aspects which had strong Third Reich associations. The area around the ruins of the Reichstag, a symbol of the Nazi contempt for democracy, was, because of its proximity to the Wall, a wasteland, a haunting image of the savage turns of German history.

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About Opera Now

Baritone Thomas Hampson discusses his influential role as ambassador for opera and the art of singing; composer John Adams on turning 70 and his new opera about the California Gold Rush; Grange Park Opera gets ready for its relaunch at Britain's newest opera house; and the indomitable prowess of the great American soprano Leontyne Price. Plus, introducing a new opera inspired by Pink Floyd's The Wall; movement and pictures in the stagings of Japanese-born director Anna Etsuko Tsuri; the revelations of Dame Felicity Lott; American opera in the age of Trump; a weekend in Boston; and our pick of the best new works coming up stateside.