The crowd gathered in the Bebelplatz for the opera Don Giovanni
We arrived in Berlin in the early evening of Friday, June 29. “Jill,” our GPS, was working wonderfully and we found our hotel with very little trouble. So we set to work planning our Saturday schedule. We began the day (Saturday) visiting the Brandenburg Gate. The last time Kathy and I were here it was 1972 (the year after we were married). The Brandenburg Gate was then the entryway into East Berlin and “the wall” was connected to it with guards, guns, and guard dogs everywhere. Today, of course, there is no longer an East Berlin and we were happy to see how much progress they have made cleaning up the place, rebuilding and incorporating it into one city.
We also visited the old Reichstag that housed Hitler’s Reich and was in ruins following the bombing of Berlin in the closing days of WWII. But they have rebuilt it and it now houses the new German government. But there was something more important we wanted to see so we set out walking east to the museum sector. There are several museums together in one spot and there was one we just had to see again—the Pergamon Museum. As you will remember, Jesus sent letters to seven churches in Asia Minor (today’s Turkey). One of them was sent to the church in Pergamum. On the acropolis above the town of Pergamum they had built a fabulous set of temples. Jesus made a statement to the church: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s seat is….” There are many Bible scholars that think that the Alter of Zeus was this “Satan’s seat.” The Alter of Zeus is the temple that archeologists dug up and transported to East Germany many years ago. It was such a great find that they built a museum just to house this permanent exhibit. Also in this same museum is another permanent exhibit—the famous Ishtar Gate that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, had built some six centuries before Christ. This is the same Nebuchadnezzar that conquered Jerusalem and took many citizens into exile. Among them was a man named Daniel. You can read his story in the book that bears his name in the Old Testament.
We ended our day in a place called Bebelplatz, a square immediately adjoining the Berlin Opera House. Our son Eric e-mailed us a note saying that an outdoor presentation of the Mozart Opera “Don Giovanni” was going to be simulcast and shown on a big jumbotron in the Bebelplatz. So we showed up at 8:00 PM and joined the huge crowd in the presentation of Mozart’s most famous opera. It was masterfully presented. They lifted a big jumbotron screen with a crane above the street so everyone in the square could see it. They had speakers everywhere and the sound system was the most fabulous thing I have ever heard in the open air. And the screen was sharp and clear. The opera was an adaptation of Mozart’s opera in the sense that it was produced in a modern setting. I was curious to see how this crowd would react to such a presentation. There were a few chuckles when one of the cast members lit up a cigarette, some more when another turned on a flashlight. But when one cast member made his appearance driving a BMW (that was the company sponsoring the event) I could hear a few groans and saw some heads shaking. So they may have taken a few too many liberties with Mozart’s original setting. They have scheduled another jumbotron concert for tomorrow (Sunday) at 1:00 PM in the same place. This one will present two piano concertos and a symphony by Tchaikovsky. I hope we are able to work that in also. If so, we'll tell you about it.