Munich gets police escort for soprano

Munich gets police escort for soprano


norman lebrecht

July 31, 2022

From a correspondent:

Just before the 5pm scheduled start of Die Frau Ohne Schatten the Staatsoper announced that Nina Stemme was unable to perform (fallen ill at short notice) as the Dyer’s wife.

They tracked down Miina-Liisa Värelä, a recent Isolde, and flew her in from Finland. She was due to arrive at Munich airport at 6.10pm. A police escort drove her into Munich. The start of the opera was rescheduled for 7pm.


  • Nik says:

    What a pity that Stoiber couldn’t get his Transrapid built. It would have got her into town “IN ZEHN MINUTEN”.

    • Lausitzer says:

      Schauen Sie sich mal die großen Opernhäuser an. Wenn Sie in Covent Garden in London oder sonstwo, Bastille in Frankreich oder in Rom, … zehn Minuten Sie jederzeit locker in Frankfurt brauchen, um die Bühne zu finden.

  • Helene Kamioner says:

    German’s are well known for punctuality above all

  • Concertgebouw79 says:

    Funny that they continue to play opera in Munich in the middle of summer and during the Bayreuth festival. I thought that everything was close during summer like in many big cities.

    • IP says:

      Well, you thought wrong then, didn’t you.

      • Concertgebouw79 says:

        I have read so many times that it was difficult for Opera houses to be at 80%… And maybe it’s more difficult to have some spectators early August than before Christmas in big cities like Munich.

        • Martin Snell says:

          The Bayerische Staatsoper enjoys, despite the effects of the pandemic on the programme, a much higher audience number, well over 90%. Certainly the majority of performances in recent weeks, with very few exceptions, were sold-out: La Bohème, Der Rosenkavalier, Macbeth, etc. Even Shostakovich’s Nose enjoyed good houses.

    • Helene Kamioner says:

      The Munich Opera Festival has been going on for many, many, many years. Long may it live

    • Martin Snell says:

      German provinces, or Bundesländer, stagger the Summer holidays so that the entire population is not on the move at the same time.

      Bavaria’s Summer holidays have always been – at least in the post-war era – from 01 August until mid September each year.

      The Bayreuther Festspiele have since the foundation of New Bayreuth in 1951 always been from 25 July until 28 August each year. It enables theatre employees, not only musicians, from all over Germany, and elsewhere, to work during their Summer holidays with much to-ing and fro-ing from their ,Stammbühne’ to cover performances at the end of one season and rehearsals at the start of the next. It is also when the majority of audience is able to travel easily and attend more one than one performance.

  • Gustavo says:

    Eine Frau mit Schatten.

  • Maria says:

    Sounds like Scottish Opera in 1981 when Denis O’Neill got sick at short notice for Lucia di Lammermoor. German flown in, police to get through Glasgow teatime winter traffic, performance delayed, and a bi-lingual performance of Italian from all of us with no surtitles in those days, and the replacement tenor in German, not knowing the production but did a fine performance.

  • Sean says:

    Munich sounds delightful, if the police don’t have anything more pressing to attend to!

  • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

    One can’t help wondering why they didn’t call Bayreuth where at least two dyer’s wives would have been available. And why they didn’t communicate the delay to the audience earlier that day. At least they promised to refund the money.

    • Martin Snell says:

      Nina Stemme notified her indisposition only at 13h00.

      It was only possible to make a public announcement once it was certain that Ersatz had been found. Any earlier would have been foolhardy.

      Iréne Theorin had her premiere of Die Walküre last evening and sensibly decided against jumping-in. Other possible contenders were also engaged elsewhere and thus unavailable. I understand that some five sopranos, located more geographically close to München, were approached before Mina-Liisa Värelä.

      Ms Värelä sang phenomenally well whilst the director’s assistant responsible for the revival of Warlikowski’s 2013 production walked the role. It made for a late but sensational evening of music-making. A large and very appreciative audience applauded long and loudly.

      For some people the prospective delay was too much and chose not to attend. They will receive a refund, if requested.

  • Alviano says:

    The police may send the opera house a bill, but no worries, it will be less than the cost of Dorny’s lunch.

  • Seneca says:

    I believe it was worth the operation: Ms. Värelä is a marvellous singer!

    • Ragnar Danneskjoeld says:

      Well, friends of mine who opted to stay thought otherwise.

      • Martin Snell says:

        I also attended. I thought Miina-Liisa Värelä sang phenomenally well. She was at an acoustic disadvantage as she had to stand at the prompt side by the proscenium behind a music stand. Where I was seated, on the opposite side of the stalls, it was, however, advantageous for me. Her voice was clarion, clear, thrilling and luscious, with clear diction, whereas other soloists did not fair as well and werte largely unintelligible. I guess one had to be there. Never rely upon anecdotal evidence, please.

  • Janos Gereben says:

    Reminds me of Domingo’s police escort from SFO to… well, SFO for the opening night “Otello” when he arrived to the War Memorial a couple of hours after the scheduled opening curtain… and the audience drunk on free champagne from the desperate management. A great success, ending at 1:30 a.m. 🙂

  • SC says:

    At the risk of attracting people who want to play politics, may I ask a practical question to whoever on here works in the opera business in the UK? How would the current post-Brexit travel restrictions impact on the same events, if they had happened at Covent Garden/Glyndebourne or wherever? Could one bring a singer from Finland into the country as quickly?