Thursday, May 02, 2013

Music in Vienna

I am off again on this year's trip, back to Europe.

I left Dunedin just over a week ago travelling by bus, it was very cheap,  for 6 hours to Christchurch then flying across the ditch to Sydney.
Three full days in Sydney were spent arranging currency, doing some shopping and helping my sister set up her new printer.  I did make a ferry ride to Manly. The Sydney harbour is one thing I do miss.

On Friday I began the worse part with 14 and half long boring hours in the plane to Dubai. After a night trying to sleep, there was another 5 hours on Saturday to Vienna.
Since then I have attended 3 operas plus some other musical experiences.

I am staying in an apartment, which allows more flexibility, but did require some food shopping using my schoolboy German.  Then I had to buy a transport pass and travel in the U-Bahn to pick up my opera tickets.
I found it hard to keep awake that night at the Staatsoper as I saw Werther by Massenet. However it was excellent.  When I left they were up to their 6th standing ovation.
The mezzo soprano Vesselina Kasarova was a stand-in due to illness but was obviously very good. The tenor was the well known Roberto Alagna whom I have seen in Met Opera cinema productions.

On Sunday morning I was up and off to the Hofburgkappelle to attend Mass sung by the Vienna Boys Choir.  I was surprised to find myself in the front row, luckily I was not nodding off like the night before.  I was thankful for my time at St James, King Street and in Catholic schools so I could generally follow the service which was in Latin and German.  The priest gave a brief recap of his sermon in English. The setting was Schubert Mass in C major. At the end the boys came down from where they had been singing up in the balcony at the back and sang one song from the front then photos were allowed. I recognised some of the boys from their performance in Dunedin last year.

I mainly rested and organised myself on Sunday before going to the Volksoper to see 'Der Wildschutz' or 'The Poacher'.  I had been there on 2 previous trips, once for the Barber of Seville and the other for Lehar's "Land of Smiles"  The latter production had some English translation projected up above the stage.

Unfortunately this time it was not a good choice. I should have paid attention to reviews that Der Wildschutz is a stodgy comic opera only appreciated by Germans.  While I had read up on the story, much of it was lost on me and it was nearly 3 hours long.  The music was pleasant but not outstanding.  I am afraid I had another period of  fighting sleepiness.  I was disappointed to see the Merry Widow will be on next week.

On Monday I thought I should do some sightseeing.  I have visited some of the museums on previous trips and enough money has been spent on operas.  I went to the markets and bought some items for dinner and had coffee and apple strudel.  Then there was a walk past typical Viennese buildings to a very impressive war memorial.  I have since discovered it was the Russian war memorial built when Russia controlled part of Vienna after World War 2 so it is not a popular monument for the Viennese and I will not publish my photo.

Then into the Stadt Park which was very pretty although sadly the tulips are at the end of their blooming.  I think there has been a sudden spring warming.  There are lots of statues of Viennese musicians so my musical theme was continued.

In the afternoon I went to the PetersKirche or St Peters church.  It is just a block from the Stephansdom or St Stephens cathedral which I think is overated.  It is better on the outside than in and very crowded.  I went in for less than 10 minutes.  However I was pleased to learn about the Peterskirche.  While fairly plain on the outside, the inside is remarkable, although a bit over the top in the usual baroque style.  However I had read there was an organ concert at 3pm so enjoyed 30 minutes of organ playing for a small donation.

Then it was back to rest up and prepare dinner before setting off back to the Staatsoper to see 'La Boheme"

This as usual was marvellous and, although I had walked a lot during the day,  I did not succumb to sleepiness. Such beautiful music in a wonderful setting.


Today I leave Vienna and head south by train to Slovenia.

1 comment:

Fran said...

Looking forward to reading more about your adventures!