Pop giant meets opera – Grönemeyer will soon set the tone at Theater Basel – culture


The German pop singer ended up in the city on the Rhine – as a composer. He creates the music for the piece «Horse eats hat».

Grönemeyer is making a comeback on the concert stage. Less well known is his career behind the scenes, which will take him to Switzerland this year. It is not the first time that the 67-year-old musician has gained experience in the theatre.

From Bochum to Basel

Grönemeyer’s career in the creative scene began in the 1970s in the city for which he later wrote an anthem: in Bochum. He worked at the Bochumer Schauspielhaus as an actor and later also as musical director.

A good 50 years and a brilliant career later, Germany’s most successful pop star returns to the stages that mean the world. This time, however, the journey does not take him to Bochum, but to Basel.

As an actor, we won’t see the man with glasses, but the piece should bear Grönemeyer’s signature: because the singer is responsible for the setting of Eugène Labiche’s comedy “Ein Florentinerhut”. The opera will be performed at Theater Basel in the 2023/24 season under the title “Horse eats hat”.

From “The Florentine Hat” to “Horse Eats Hat”

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The turbulent, funny piece “The Florentine Hat” was penned by the French Eugène Labiche (1815-1888). In 1928 – a few years before the Second World War – the director René Claie filmed the comedy. Back then, films were all silent.

In 1936, the American Orson Welles took Labiche’s “Florentine Hat” as a model for his stage play “Horse Eats Hat”. For this reason, the musical comedy at Theater Basel is also «horse eats hat» are called, explained the Basel theater director Benedikt von Peter in an interview with the BaZ.

The play begins bizarrely: the horse of the rich idler Fadinard has eaten Madame Beauperthuis’s Florentine hat. And threatens to expose their extramarital affair.

Behind the big stage

The Basel commitment came about in a roundabout way, thanks to the director Herbert Fritsch – and thanks to the pandemic: Fritsch had already worked with Grönemeyer in Bochum, according to the director and artistic director of the Theater Basel, Benedikt von Peter. Since this production in Bochum burst due to the pandemic, the two are now collaborating on the play “Pferd eats Hut” in Basel.


Grönemeyer has been a guest in Basel several times. For example in 2005 at the music festival AVO Session (now known as the Baloise Session).

KEYSTONE/Markus Stuecklin

A premiere for the pop star, despite theater experience: “This is the first time that Herbert Grönemeyer works for the big stage, with a big choir and orchestra,” like that from Peter.

The German singer will also work on site in Basel. Because in addition to the songs and choir numbers composed in advance, Grönemeyer also creates the music for the spoken texts. “This will only be further developed during the rehearsals in Basel.”

More than just a household name

But why does Theater Basel rely on Grönemeyer? Benedikt von Peter’s answer follows promptly: “I like the musicians, but also the concept.” Because the music concept relies, among other things, on a brass band, a brass ensemble, which brings the tempo to the opera.

So Grönemeyer brings speed to Basel. But its popularity will also lure the curious to the Basel theater from November 4th. And perhaps Grönemeyer will be inspired to compose a hymn to the city on the Rhine during his time in Basel.

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2023-05-19 14:32:00

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