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Vienna, A Little Night Music

February 01, 2008

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In the city where Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, Haydn and Schubert lived and worked, how could we miss experiencing some of the fantastic music and musicianship of Vienna? It would seem a pity to miss the orchestra and opera here. I was so disappointed that we did not get to do all of the musical nights that we had hoped for, but we were thrilled that we did get to see and hear this one.

I really think it was absolutely the perfect one for us and nothing could have been a better choice, given our limited time, due to my recovery. When we first met the charming Croatian man dressed in 18th century style clothing in front of St. Stephen's Cathedral, I was not sure if he was scamming us or not. His enthusiasm proved to be genuine and he was correct in saying it was the best performance to see!

When we arrived at the theatre and it was several flights up and the room was small, I wondered again about our choice. Then I read in the program that it has excellent acoustics and is a famous location. It was pretty inside, but the chairs were set up like a kid’s grade school rehearsal and Mozart has performed in better venues, so I wondered if it would be amateurish. Not to worry, it was wonderful and it was clear after the first note that we were in for a treat.

What was great, especially for Mozart, but also for all the adults in the audience (she was the only child again), is they had a little bit of everything. I was not exactly sure how that would work out, but given our limitations, nothing could have been better. There was opera and ballet as well as Mozart, various classical performers, Strauss, and more. Every performer and performance was first rate and they won us all over quickly.

The stage was tiny, so I was exceptionally curious about how they would ever do the ballet portion. Okay, small orchestra and two opera singers can make due in a small space, but looking at the minute space left over, I was bewildered about where in the world a dancer could fit. It turned out that they had four dancers and they were good and could do more  in that space than one would ever believe possible!

Mozart loves music, but she is also extremely visual, so having different types of performance made it more exciting for her. Since it was such an intimate space she soon asked and we allowed her to sit very close to the stage, in between the two rows of seats, on the floor up front. I figured they would tell us if that was not allowed and she likes to be close to the action, so that she does not miss anything. We actually had the best tickets in the “gold section” too, but the front row tickets had been sold to two  groups, as we had asked before buying.

She especially identifies with blond, female musicians, like the violin player that we watched at St Marks in Venice. There were some great violinist to observe, but funnily there were no females at all playing that instrument this night (several in the program photos). Right away though, she spotted and commented on the pianist and her long blond hair. We all loved the dramatic female cellist who had short spiky hair and was ultra expressive with her body. There were two large groups of Asians on either side in the front (probably tours that bought them as a block of seats), and they all seemed to get a real kick out of Mozart. When the lights were up, many took turns taking pictures of her. She had her little panda with her from the zoo.

It had been a long day for us, as we had gone to the Schonbrunn Palace and the zoo, so we had been out most of the day. We wanted to be close to the location of the concert, so we just had dinner at a restaurant in the Intercontinental Hotel. We had a little time to kill, so we just hung out in a comfortable lobby and did some people watching while we rested our weary feet.

We had an okay dinner (I did not care for mine at all...don't order “Austrian salmon” because it tastes nothing at all like real salmon). We suddenly noticed a hair salon was just across the way and part of the hotel complex as well. I dashed over as I had been on the lookout for a while with Mozart's tremendously long bangs. ..even the pictures of Mozart during this can't-find-a-hairdresser phase make me cringe. I want to put a little apology and explanation next to them as she looks bedraggled. What a relief to get them quickly cut before the show, so I could see my child's face once again!

Afterwards, she was playing grown up lady with me, as the waiter had given her cranberry juice in a wine glass. We were using our best English accents, pretending we were fancy lady friends, going out for an elegant evening's entertainment. I guess she later forgot the elegant part, because she was so excited to see Leonardo DaVinci's image on a tour bus that she kissed it, when we were walking to the concert!

Mozart's favorite part was a bunny and hunter dance by the ballet corps. It sounds corny, but was really well  done and she was just inches away from the dancers. They did three numbers during the show, a uniformed soldier one, the rabbits and Vienna waltz one. Every one was exciting and interesting. When the first ballerina came out initially, I thought, that was it, but then another was added, then low and behold a male dancer and then another. I would  never have guessed that four dancers could manage such a rewarding and theatrical presentation in that tiny space, but I soon forgot all about the space.

Mozart's second favorite part was the trumpet solo and that was excellent. We all really enjoyed the female opera singer, altho the male also did one very exciting solo. The musical and ballet waltzing number was really divine to experience in Vienna. The caliber of this show was so high that we were sorry we did not see more of such, but we were absolutely thrilled with this experience which was a highlight. If we had to only see one thing in Vienna, this was the right one!

Forgive me for being so late for getting this blog up this time, I think I set a new record. We left Vienna and quickly headed to Italy to  finish some things we wanted to see (Florence, Pisa, Sienna, Umbria, Pompeii, and Capri) before going home to Spain. We ran into problems finding  internet connection and then were focused on getting our winter home and moving in, so I am seriously trying to play catch-up now. I have learned the hard way that we need to get back a little earlier next year because adding Thanksgiving and pressing Christmas issues (family needs an address to send packages to that need to be mailed early) just adds to the load.

So, I am juggling many things at the moment and  will get you all up to date as soon as I can. We had to cut things out of the trip due to the delay in Vienna and other longer stays. It is not as much fun to be in an RV as it gets colder and rainier in the north, so we started feeling like horses who see their barn after a long stroll, we were all ready to run back to our winter lives in sunny Spain. 

Please bear with me with this transition. Perhaps it is good timing too as most of you are probably busier in this season as well. There is lots to tell yet and I will feel better when this blog is in sync again. I hope to do weekly updates at a minimum, once we catch up, and have time to do some reviews about what we learned this first year on the road. Lots of lofty ambitions......we will see how much I accomplish.

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