The Russo – German Fairytale of Baden-Baden (2/2)


Along a stroll on stone passages in the delicate town, it is not difficult to sense a Russian vibe in an aquarelle style. Things are in the flow, but yet not illustriously exhibited. Russian signs and Russian – speakers in stores, boutiques with windows demonstrating seasonal fashions in a particular Russian taste, flagship stores of international luxurious brands, not only haute couture, but also interior decorations illustrate the purchase capacity of this mini town, and its target groups.The Festspielhaus hosts numerous art events every year, many of the programmes and artists are Russian origins. The Mariinsky ballet does yearly tour to Baden – Baden during Christmas, gracing the stage with three different ballets, which usually includes the Nutcracker, plus a grand gala as an ending in a two – week long residence. The consistence of the playbills itself is quite phenomenal, considering the size of the city, and how very costly financially and administratively it is for presenting one single ballet. They perform not just one ballet, but three, plus a gala, which is usually composed of at least three different pieces of choreographies. The scale of the Baden – Baden tour is larger than many other performances that the company has in major cities around the world. It is the only theatre in Germany that the Mariinsky ballet visits every year, alongside with New York and London. They don’t go to Berlin, München, not even Paris on a regular basis. Aside from how important a month December is (though Orthodox Christmas is January 7th), the ballet tour demonstrates how powerful the audiences are in Baden – Baden. Let along that this is just one of the many programmes, there are other operas and concerts taking place regularly, and the casts are undoubtedly world – class.

There are other places where Tsarinas were from, mostly somewhere in Germany (Catherine the Second was from Prussia, and Tsarinas after her were mostly from regions of the Germany today.), but none of them acquires such a vital status. There are other resorts where Russians go for vacations, but none of them goes down in masterpieces. There are famous metropolitans, which people hear all the time, and iconic architectures appear on all sorts of products, from phone cases to carpets. However, the association between Baden – Baden and the Russians is delicate, and an intersection of aristocrats, intelligentsias and resort paradise.

Baden – Baden is a common memory for Russian – speakers, who are acquainted with Russian literature and history. Back in the old days, the spread of knowledge and creation of discourses were very top – down, and controlled in the hands of the circle of literate elites. They possess the power of shaping how the common mass should think by providing limited and filtered information. The depiction of Baden – Baden as an Elysian and novels occurring there generates an unsurpassed position as a holy grail. The discourse being reproducing time after time, through the mouth of the powers, the riches, and the smarts appears as a truth and a belief. Hence, it is more influential than discourses nowadays, though Baden – Baden is undeniably small, and Russia is undoubtedly gigantic.

When Baden – Baden began to acquire its prime in the nineteenth century, it was the time when Russian intelligentsias caught in the dilemma of Westernizers and Slavophiles, which appears to be a theme in many literal works. There is a type of character called “the superfluous person” in Russian literature. It describes those Russians, who acquire western educations, usually from distinguished nobilities, hold great political ambitions and anxieties for reformations, however political reality forbid them. Though they were indeed the elites of the time, they were useless and superfluous for the society. Baden – Baden as a western resort reflects this fact of how the Russian elites indulged themselves in the paradise by the Oos, away from bothersome reality back home. Hence, how Baden – Baden obtaining its zenith in Russia implies a historical context. Abstract disputes on surreal concepts, fortunes won and lost in the grandeur casino, subtle yet obvious love affairs are just some embodiments of dissatisfactions for inability to change for the better.

The transnationality of Baden – Baden for the Russians appears not only in royal weddings, but also in the common memory of the nationals. It has been a fashionable holiday place, where the riches and the powers go. A splendid aura around it is hence born. International travel brings foreign locally. The masterpieces take their settings in local milieu “russifies” the city, not politically but emotionally. After the fall of the iron curtain, another Russian boom came back to Baden – Baden, somehow the scenarios echo the one two hundred years ago. The historical interference inherited and influenced behavioral patterns generations after generations. When the Russians visit Baden – Baden, it is more than a foreign voyage, but a sacred pilgrimage. The historical background that it acclaimed its prime reflects a specific era, and hence it acquired more significance than other places. Moreover, the literatures based on it are not merely propagandas, but vital cultural heritages. The discourse of Baden – Baden was first shaped top – down, embraced by elites, and then enforced onto the commons. Gradually, it became a common memory for the nationals. Activities nowadays are consequences of the past.

The Russians are not merely the only foreign forces in the neighborhood, though seemingly a phenomenal one. Baden – Baden was under French occupation forces after World War Two. A military airfield was built 15 kilometers west of Baden – Baden, and in 1990s was changed into a civil airport. Taking a stroll in Baden – Baden, the interference is flown in the air, either embodiments economically or culturally. It is vital that interactions take two or more, and none of each will stay the same as before. Influence is a matter of fact, not a narrative statement. It is worth mentioning that, though due to the mode of motion, it would appear as the foreigners are interfering nationals. However, the city also changes foreigners. They obtain a little piece of it, or even integrate locally.

The green paradise by the Oos has been blessed with healing hot springs since the Roman Empire. Though it was under destructions in the Middle Ages, it reached its prime in the nineteenth century as the summer capital of Europe, and the must – go for contemporaries. The connection between Baden – Baden and Russia began with the arranged marriage between Alexander the First of Russia and Louise of Baden, fostered by Russian aristocrats and intelligentsias, and revitalized as a common memory generations after generations. Throughout the masterpieces of Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, Baden – Baden becomes a legend for Russians. The return of the Russians after 1990s has brought concerns on the German side, that the new riches and potential mafias will jeopardize this elegant ville d’eau, even though with countless world – class haute couture events coming along side.

It is often that foreigners end up in a negative image than positive ones. They bring changes, which are usually regarded as destructive to local values. Nonetheless, it is vital and noteworthy, especially in the case in Baden – Baden and the Russians, that though the city is not in movement physically, it has influenced people thousands of miles away through discourses literally and verbally for generations.

The interference is not only one – sided brought by tourists and immigrants, but an interaction from both of the parties. In a globalizing world, it is inevitable that connections between people and regions are facing fundamental revolutions. It is important that, throughout the process, we are able to generate the best plausible results from all aspects of life. It is not invasion, but interaction.




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