MUSIC / Upbeat: Growth area

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The Independent Culture
TONIGHT sees the reopening of the restored Chemnitz Opera House with a new production of Wagner's Parsifal. If you haven't heard of the place, there are two good reasons: it was gutted by bombing in 1945, and the town itself, 150 miles south of Berlin, used to be called Karl-Marx-Stadt. Long over all that, it has now appointed a British music director, John Carewe, who starts a three-year contract next August. He makes his first appearance there conducting Salome on 3 January.

Chemnitz's musical traditions are distinguished. Its chief from 1912 to 1930 was Richard Tauber, father of the famous tenor, who made his debut as Tamino there in 1913. Strauss, Lehar and Humperdinck conducted there. Restoration has taken five years. The house now has a company of 29 soloists, a 60-strong chorus, an orchestra of 126 - the Robert Schumann Philharmonic - and a separate ballet company. For its relaunch it has five new productions, including The Magic Flute, The Merry Widow, and Anatevka - otherwise known as Fiddler on the Roof. Match that in a British town of 300,000 people (Leeds, since you ask, has over twice the population).