Opera: The Joys of Intermission

On Oct. 18, 1943, the heart of Munich was struck by a fire-bomb raid. The incendiaries that crashed through the 160-ft.-high roof of the National-theater ignited a fire that burned for three days, melting the crystal chandeliers, blackening what remained of the ornate bas-reliefs and frescoes, consuming even the ranks of ivory chairs. For nearly two decades, the ruins of the 125-year-old home of the Bavarian State Opera stood as a grim souvenir of the war, a macabre memorial to its own glorious past.

Last week elegant crowds gathered once more beneath the...

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