Upbeat: Floating songs

AN 80-year-old barge moored on the Elbe in Dresden, writes Andrew Green, is carrying the hopes of the baritone Olaf Bar. Dresden-born Bar, in London next week for a Covent Garden recital, is party to an eight-person consortium involved in converting the barge into a DM2m, 250-seat venue for drama, concerts and dance. The consortium also includes the trumpeter Ludwig Guttler and the singer Gunther Emmerlich.

The drive behind the project is the need to find a home for Dresden's small but inspirational Theater Brett'l, forced from its present space by rocketing rents. Bar is anxious to see the floating auditorium as additionally a venue for concerts, especially song recitals, cabaret and music/literature programmes. 'I'm hoping friends from the singing world will agree to give recitals at reduced fees - at least to begin with.'

City and state authorities hamstrung by the economic effects of reunification have been slow to take an interest in the barge, and Bar has been seeking support while on tour elsewhere in Europe. 'We need this for Dresden's self-esteem,' he says. 'So many people in eastern Germany think they've just been taken over by those in the west.' Working title for the barge: Ida - 'as in Princess'.