Berlin has one of the most vibrant cultural scenes in the world: Exhibitions, concerts, plays, and dance performances. The city still generously subsidizes its art scene, despite recent cutbacks, and tickets are usually reasonable, especially with student discounts. Numerous festivals celebrating everything from Chinese film to West African music spice up the regular offerings; posters proclaiming special events festoon the city well in advance.
Reservations can be made by calling the box office directly. Always ask about student discounts; most theaters and concert halls offer up to 50% off, but only if you buy at the Abendkasse (evening box office), which generally opens lhr. before performance. Other ticket outlets charge 15-18% commissions and do not offer student discounts. There is also a ticket counter in the KaDeWe department store, Tauentzienstr. 21. (217 77 54. Open M-F 10am-8pm, Sa 10am-4pm). While most theaters accept credit cards, many ticket outlets do not. Most theaters and operas close from mid-July to late August.
CONCERTS, OPERA, AND DANCE
Berlin reaches its musical zenith during the Berliner Festwochen, lasting almost all of September and drawing the world’s best orchestras and soloists. The Berliner Jazztage in November, featuring top-notch jazz musicians, also brings in the crowds. For info about either, contact Berliner Festspiele (254 890; www.berlinerfestspiele.de). In mid-July, the Bachtage is an intense week of classical music, while every Saturday night in August the Sommer Festspiele turns the Ku’damm into a concert hall with punk, steel-drum, and folk groups competing for attention.
Look for concert listings in the pamphlets Konzerte und Theater in Berlin und Brandenburg (free), Berlin Programm (1.50), Zitty, or Tip. Tickets for the Philharmonie and the Oper are nearly impossible to acquire through conventional channels without writing months in advance. Some people stand out in front before performances with a small sign saying “Suche Karte” (seeking ticket) people unload tickets at the last moment, usually at outrageous prices.
S Berliner Philharmonisches Orchester, Herbert Von Karajanstr. 1 (25 48 81 32; www.berlin-philharmonic.com). U2: Potsdamer PI. and walk up Potsdamer Str. It may look bizarre, but this big yellow building, designed by Scharoun in 1963, is acoustically perfect. The Berliner Philharmoniker is one of the world’s finest orchestras. It’s tough to get a seat; check an hour before concert time or write at least 8 weeks in advance. The Philharmonie is closed from the end of June until the start of September. Tickets start at 7 for standing room, 15 for seats. Box office open M-F 3-6pm, Sa-Su llam-2pm.
Konzerthaus (Schauspielhaus am Gendarmenmarkt), Gendarmenmarkt 2 (20 30 90; www.konzerthaus.de). U2: Stadtmitte. The opulent home of Berlin’s symphony orchestra. Last-minute tickets are somewhat easier to come by. No performances mid-July through August Box office open M-Sa llam-7pm, Su noon-4pm.
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bismarckstr. 35 (343 84 01; www.deutscheoperberlin.de). U2: Deutsche Oper. Berlin’s best and youngest opera, featuring newly commissioned works as well as all the German and Italian classics. Tickets 10-110. 25% student discounts. Box office open M-Sa 11am until lhr. before performance, Su 10am-2pm. Evening tickets available lhr. before performance. Open Sept.-June.
Deutsche Staatsoper, Unter den Linden 7 (20 35 45 55; www.staatsoper-berlin.de). U6: Franzdsische Str. Eastern Berlin’s leading opera company is led by Daniel Barenboim (also the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra). Their big budget leads to grandiose fare. Tours on some Sa-M-check ahead for times. Tickets 5-200. Student tickets 10 1 hr. before show. Box office open M-F llam-7pm, Sa-Su 2-7pm, and lhr. before performance. Performs Sept. to mid-July.