Soccer-Football fever inspires unusual opera in Germany


Singers perform a football opera in Hamburg, Germany, June 15, 2024. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

HAMBURG, Germany (Reuters) - Football fever at Euro 2024 in Germany is being felt not only inside packed stadiums, raucous bars and heaving city squares - but also in the more rarefied atmosphere of an opera house.

On the banks of the Elbe river in Hamburg, one of the tournament's host cities, a new production called the "Fussballoper" (Football Opera) is selling out to lovers of both sport and music.

The work by director Inken Rahardt recreates a football pitch and the chaotic interactions between players, referee and ball, mixing fan chants with traditional arias and pop songs.

Naturally, it lasts 90 minutes: the time of a game.

"The connection between football and opera is just perfect," Rahardt said on another busy night at the Opernloft (Opera Loft) venue in a trendy part of Germany's second-largest city.

"The hall is buzzing, people are happy, they recognise the soccer moves, connect that with the emotional music of opera and just have a great evening."

'BIG MIX OF EVERYTHING'

Songs range from the Champions League anthem to Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun dorma" - with plenty of participation from spectators in colourful hats and scarves.

"It's a big mix of everything, different genres," said singer Freja Sandkamm, who plays a referee and quipped that her biggest challenge was to suppress her normal opera voice and learn how to "belt" out football songs instead.

Spectators were delighted.

One lady said she was finally able to bring her football-loving partner to the opera, while others praised the imaginative albeit surreal fusion of entertainment cultures.

"I chose it for the combination really because I thought it's really a good way to attract people that maybe are not going to opera very much," said York Rudhard, 53, a pharmaceutical scientist from Hamburg.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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