Dressed for ‘Faust’

To mark its reopening after the (not yet completed) renovation of its theater, the Berlin State Opera has resurrected a relic of the previous millennium: the dress code.

For the first-night performance of Schumann’s “Scenes from Goethe’s ‘Faust’,” a concert work, not an opera – stage reconstruction is ongoing – journalists covering the event are advised to dress “festlich-elegant,” Norman Lebrecht reports on his Slipped Disc blog:


Festlich-elegant – literal translation: “festive-elegant” – apparently differs in some way from formal. It might mean what one would wear for an evening dinner date at a four-star restaurant, or what trend-conscious 30-somethings would wear at a dressy gallery opening. Or it might mean black tie with some colorfully quirky substitute for the black tie.

Most of the journalists I know, even those who cover highbrow fields, are not what you’d call fashion-forward. I expect that those assigned to cover the Berlin event will play it safe and wear some approximation of a tuxedo.

For dressy affairs, I keep an Italian-cut, double-breasted black suit that I can wear with a tuxedo shirt and black tie, and do without studs, suspenders, cummerbund and other nonsense appurtenances. If I’m feeling lazy or rebellious, I’ll wear the suit with a white turtleneck.

That seems to be festlich-elegant enough for Richmond. I can’t speak for Berlin.

Letter V Classical Radio Sept. 27

noon-3 p.m. EDT
1600-1900 UTC/GMT
WDCE, University of Richmond
90.1 FM

John Marsh: Symphony No. 7 in E flat major (“La Chasse”)
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert

Brahms: Piano Trio in C major, Op. 87
Emanuel Ax, piano
Leonidas Kavakos, violin
Yo-Yo Ma, cello
(Sony Classical)

Past Masters:
Mozart: Horn Quintet in E flat major, K. 407
Dennis Brain, French horn
English String Quartet
(BBC Legends)
(recorded 1957)

Beethoven: Trio in C major, Op. 87
Heinz Holliger & Hans Elhorst, oboes
Maurice Bourgue, English horn
(Deutsche Grammophon)

Dohnányi: Serenade in C major, Op. 10
(orchestration by Dmitry Sitkovetsky)
NES Chamber Orchestra/Dmitry Sitkovetsky

Robert Ward: “Bath County Rhapsody”
Jane Hawkins, piano
Ciompi Quartet

Respighi: “Poema Autumnale”
Julia Fischer, violin
Monte Carlo Philharmonic/Yakov Kreizberg

Vaughan Williams: Symphony No. 5 in D major
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic/Vernon Handley
(EMI Eminence)