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Thursday, 22 August, 2002, 08:33 GMT 09:33 UK
German venues count flooding costs
The Semper opera house
Clean-up and repairs could take up to two months
Dresden's flooded Semper opera house is refunding 150,000 tickets because its new season has been delayed by repairs.

The opera house is one of a number of historic buildings in the eastern German city to be damaged by the floods which have swept across Eastern Europe.

The venue's season will be delayed by at least six to eight weeks as millions of pounds worth of damage is rectified.

Dresses are laid out to dry
Costumes were damaged by the floodwaters
"We're cancelling all the pre-reservations, but everyone will get their money back," said Semper managing director Roland Beneke.

Officially the ornate building is shut until further notice, but management are optimistic the damage can be repaired within two months.

The Semper opera needs revenue of more than 16 million euros (10.2m) from ticket sales.

Mr Beneke said it would lose up to 500,000 euros (320,000) each week during the closure.

This is in addition to the vast cost of replacing costumes and instruments and repairing scenery and other damage to the building.

The house orchestra lost two Steinway grand pianos, an upright piano and a number of timpani while stage machinery has been wrecked by swirling floodwaters.

Theatre damage

"We've sent two lorry loads of material to Leipzig to be dried and repaired," Mr Beneke said.

Nearby, the state theatre has also suffered "absolutely catastrophic" damage, general manager Holk Freytag said.

But although electric, sound and lighting systems have been badly affected, the water did not reach the auditoriums.

"If that had happened, we'd have to had to cancel the entire season," Freytag said.

He estimated the damage at around 10 million euros (6.4m), with 26,000 cubic metres (about 900,000 cubic feet) of water having to be pumped out.


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