Altenburg may be an opera house the size of a darling stamp (much like Altenburg airport, should you ever land there), but that only goes to showcase the German wonder (and utmost importance) of stable opera houses even in cities of less than 40,000 citizens. No matter where you go in this country, there’s always an opera house.
No matter where you go, there’s always a chance of a mezzo in a suit with a pair of dark-framed glasses opeing your eyes and ears to endless wonder.
And there’s always someone at least trying to put an idea (and not just the stage directions given in the libretto) on stage. There are tight budgets and incredibly stretched casts (have you ever had someone at the Scala sing Hanna Glawari, Handel’s Rodelinda and Tosca, and in the same season to boot?!), but opera is happening.
Sometimes, there’s not-all-that-stellar singing, perhaps, but there IS singing, with passion and dedication, and a house like Altenburg even stems things like a complete “Tosca” (which was also the only time I’ve ever NOT witnessed applause after the Vissi d’arte, but that is another story…). On a stage that makes the tiny Verdi Theatre in Busseto seem like the Arena di Verona. More or less.
And sometimes, there are great things happening. Sometimes, you have some young singer who will move on to be a fascinating Orlando in Lucerne a few years later, as in the case in question with Dressen as Composer.