Dome Church Sunday Service Domkerk Utrecht

Sunday service at Utrecht’s most famous dome church is a must-experience. There’s more music than church.

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Outdoor opera for guitar and soprano

Soprano and her guitarist accompanist play one more set for an eager listener in Utrecht — the secret garden near the Dome Tower.

On Friday 5th August 2011, I spotted two musicians cycling to work. Traffic was hectic on the cobbled stone streets of Utrecht, Netherlands.

“Where will you play next?” I asked the guitarist eagerly.

“I think we’re done for the day,” he turned to the singer.

“Oh! But I’ve been looking for you all afternoon. Can’t you do one more set for me?” I begged.

It’s unusual to hear opera arias outside of a concert hall or an opera production. It’s even more unusual to hear a soprano with a classical guitarist, amid the accordeonists that dominate the streets of this ancient Roman city.

“We’ve already done three sets,” said the singer. “We’re going for a beer now.”

“Look. I’ll buy you a beer. Please let me see you perform. I know a nice spot.”

I led them to a secret garden on the right side of the dome. I had visited there once during a walking tour.

Secret garden in Utrecht (near the Dome)
Secret garden in Utrecht (near the Dome)

Guitarist Robert Bekkers and soprano Mirella Reiche had obviously not seen this garden. They decided to try it. Soon the music drew people into the garden.

They were busking on this warm, sunny afternoon in Utrecht. The setting of the secret garden made it into an outdoor concert. The people who were already sitting on the benches refused to leave. Meanwhile, newcomers strolled into the garden to listen.

Robert Bekkers arranged the guitar part for this “Ach, Ich fuhl’s” aria from Mozart’s Magic Flute. The duo introduced this new programme this week.