09 August 2010
Posted in Sights and Sounds
A little boy, wearing a top hat and tails, is holding a silver tray with canapés ”a family all elegantly dressed in white; the mother is wearing a white flower in her hair and she is dancing to the sound of an orchestraâ€” champagne is taken out of a silver cooler and uncorked. Have we accidentally stumbled across a film set? No, this is the annual Schloss in Flammen, which literally translates as " a palace in flames."
Every summer, this event in the Karlsruhe palace gardens attracts hundreds of spectators. Some rise to the occasion by dressing very stylishly, having arrived early in the evening to set-up extraordinarily and elaborate picnic tables: complete with white tablecloths, candlesticks and silver wine coolers. The founder of Karlsruhe built the palace in 1715. The margrave Karl-Wilhelm, modelled the palace on Versailles (these are the days before the French Revolution!). With its vast gardens, it makes an ideal setting for such an event. Today, we have brought along our picnic food to the match the Italiano theme: a marinated vegetable pie and a panforte; both are easily transportable.
At 8 o'clock the orchestra begins to play. This year, the programme is an Italiano theme, with the most popular arias from works such as: ˜The Barber of Seville"; ˜Norma" and "Otello" The orchestra is one of the best in southern Germany, and the vocalists have all had training at first class music houses. It is a balmy summer's evening and a very contented atmosphere settles over the gardens. The audience is sipping on wine and listening to the wonderful arias as the sunlight slowly begins to fade, and a pale sliver of a moon now rises above the trees.
The grand finale to the evening that gives it its name, are the fireworks synchronised to the sounds of Tschaikowski; Capriccio Italiano. It's a superb display of colours and pyrotechnics, which is leaving the audience dazed.
As we leave the castle grounds, we see a number of people sitting on foldable chairs just outside the enclosure, (for this event is for ticket holders only) who have obviously enjoyed the evening for free whilst both music and fireworks have travelled beyond enclosures.
Standing at the tram stop I notice the little boy, but minus the top hat and he is cosily wrapped in a blanket eating an ice cream. The table, chairs and the rest of the picnic gear are packed in the handcart next to him.