Wild Words between Vorhang and Hinterbühne

Theater vocabulary part I: The compound nouns

My recent workshop “German for Opera Singers” in Berlin brought together sopranos and baritones to discuss theater vocabulary. Stage language in German opera houses is, of course, German, and therefore compound nouns are your companions – no escape.

The workshop’s participants tried to connect the following compounds to create words that describe things or activities on stage. Try it, too, but do not scroll down … yet.


Here are the answers – with another exercize: Choose the verbs below that fit the nouns.

das Lampenfieber _______________   das Bühnenbild ________________

die Hosenrolle _______________   die Generalprobe ________________
die Zweitbesetzung _______________   das Stimmband ________________
der Scheinwerfer _______________

aufführen, haben, singen, aufbauen, blenden, warten, entzünden

Find the answers in part two of the series about theater vocabuary.





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Bernd Hendricks. Born in Duisburg, Germany. Based in Berlin. Writer, German Language Educator. I was six years old when I went to the opera for the first time. My Grandma took me to Hänsel und Gretel at the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Duisburg. The first time I met an opera singer personally was during my time as foreign correspondent in New York when at a Christmas party a baritone pelted me with questions about the language of Zauberflöte. He was preparing for his role as Papageno. After my return to Berlin in September 2010, I have been giving German lessons to singers on their audition tours. My workshops in Berlin, Vienna, and London are based on my widely read book Ach, ich fühl’s—German for Opera Singers in Three Acts: Studying, Speaking, Singing. My latest book, Die Frist ist um—Navigate the Language of 10 German Operas, takes you on a journey through the language of the most popular and often performed operas in the German-speaking countries. I am also the author of several non-fiction books and two novels.

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