New 375,000 Euro Sound System for the Bonn Opera

Bonn. In the council’s Cultural Committee, the parties ‘Bürgerbund Bonn’ and the ‘Linke’ tried unsuc-cessfully to request the withdrawal of this decision. Both Johannes Schott (BBB) and Jürgen Rep-schläger (Linke/Left) believe that the investment only makes sense if the old opera house is repaired and not if a new one is built.

17.02.2018

From Musical Director General Dirk Kaftan’s point of view, the new sound system is indispensable to be able to maintain or even improve the current musical quality of the opera. In fact, it is connected with a necessary reconstruction of the orchestra pit, which began gradually in January 2017. Since 2013, a budget of 300,000 EUR has been available for this purpose.

However, theatre staff themselves came up with the necessary elements for health and safety improvements at a cost of 65,000 euros. According to the theater's budget, 235,000 euros remain from the original budget, so that “only” an additional 140,000 euros were missing for the sound system.

"The working conditions in the orchestra pit in its present form are simply not legal," explained Kaftan. They no longer meet today's standards." The orchestra pit is much too small for some orchestral sizes," said Rüdiger Frings, Commercial Director of the Bonn Theatre. The expense is "urgently needed".

Kaftan expects the rebuild to cause a significant deterioration in acoustics, which will be compensated by the new system. It will take the orchestra's sound and transmit it to the auditorium via hidden loudspeakers in the ceiling. Kaftan listed a number of modern concert halls that successfully use this technique.

In the Cultural Committee, some members reacted badly to the announcement of the issue, which was made at short notice only a month ago. Particularly as the theatre urged a quick decision, so that the specialist company could be commissioned and the construction work could be completed in the summer break of this year. Bärbel Richter (SPD) said: "We should decide on the issue within a month. And if we don't rush, it's the end of the world." One wonders what will happen next summer.

The General Director of the Bonn theatre, Bernhard Helmich, did not want to leave this accusation alone. "When I came to Bonn in 2013, there were two taboo subjects that nobody wanted to talk about: The structural condition of the Kammerspiele (small theatre chambers) and the opera," says Helmich. He spoke of a "non-aggression pact of all parties". The expenditure would notbe a "throw-away-investment". Even if a new building were decided upon, the planning would certainly take ten years.

Christiane Overmans (CDU/Christian Democrats) called for prudence. In terms of cultural policy, expenditure on the extension of the orchestra pit and the new sound system cannot be separated from each other. "It would be foolish to only support the extension and not the installation of the system," says Overmans. Now that the delays in the construction of the Beethovenhalle are known, the significance of the opera as a replacement venue is likely to increase. The anniversary year in celebration of Beethoven’s birth begins in two years’ time.

(Original text: Philipp Königs  Translation: Caroline Payne)

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