Last night we went to see Mozart’s ‘Cosi fan tutte’ in the Semper Opera. Before the 7pm performance we had booked a guided tour of the building starting at 5.45pm. The tour turned out not much of a tour but a very interesting session about the history of the building and its architect: Gottfried Semper was an interesting character who seemingly had no problems to bite the hands that fed him (he joined the group around the 1848/49 anti-royal revolution, which plotted against the kings that commissioned him to build opera houses). That said, the quality of his work was so outstanding, that the Kings still asked him to create these buildings. He build the first version of the Semper Opera (or the Saxon State Opera) in 1841. Unfortunately a devastating fire destroyed this building, so, despite his known revolutionary ambitions, he was commissioned to lead the reconstruction, apparently mostly driven by the will of Dresden’s population.

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He didn’t feel safe to appear in Dresden in person, though, so he sent his son Manfred to supervise the construction work. Gottfried Semper had an interesting thought: he considered opera an illusion and he wanted this illusion to start for the spectators the moment they set foot into the opera house. Worked with me: I had a wonderful evening in the Semper Opera – from entering the building until a late dinner in the “Alte Meister” Restaurant at the Royal Palace.

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