Another wonderful week in Wien! I feel like slightly less of a tourist and much more like a local musician with a purpose. Part of this feeling is due to the fact that it is no longer necessary to use the U-Bahn map and I’ve been mistaken for a local a few times (or at least someone who looks like they know what they are doing).
LCSO practiced all week again, and our first concert is today in Oberschutzen, again on Wednesday in Stockerau and then, the big kahuna, the Wiener Konzert Haus on Thursday. I have no qualms about LCSO’s positive representation of the U.S. and it’s rich music.
This week’s activities included going to the Oberlaa Spa (a giant indoor-outdoor hot springs, equipped with slides and massaging jets) and I attended a few more operas: “Castor et Pollux,” “Cosi Fan Tutte,” “Carmen,” and “La Cenorentola.” The first two, by Romeau and Mozart respectively, I attended in standing room and “Carmen” and “La Cenorentola” (Rossini’s version of Cinderella), were group activities. Mozart’s opera was at the Staatsoper, one of my favorite places in Wien, and Romeau’s baroque opera was at the Theater an der Wien. The other two operas were at the Volksoper, my least favorite venue, but beautiful in it’s own right. Vienna is such a musically-centered city that opportunities like these operas are easy to find and afford. I should also add that we toured the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum), The City of Wien Museum and Belvedere Palace, the summer palace of Prince Eugene of Savoy. All held art, artifacts and history of the city. I was most surprised in the City of Wien Museum to see models of the city dating back to the 1500s. It was as if people knew back then that Vienna would be a city with a worldy, rich history that needed to be thoroughly documented.
More good food was also consumed at heurigens, a restaurant that serves local food and wine, literally meaning “this year’s wine.” On a weekend trip to the Vienna Woods (the most beautiful countryside I will ever see), our group ended it’s long walk at one of these quaint restaurants. Authentic homemade wine and apfelstrudel (apple strudel) was delicious, and definitely one of my favorite days overall. The next day after our time at the spa, LCSO was treated to a full meal at a different heurigen, including veal schnitzel, pork, meatballs, potatoes, salad, wine, and more apfelstrudel. That evening left everyone full and content.
This past Friday night was the Officer’s Ball, the second-most anticipated activity behind our concerts, for me at least. With a dress code consisting of ball gowns and elbow-length gloves, there was definitely a royal atmosphere as all the guests entered the Hofburg Palace. LCSO learned, or attempted in my case, to dance the Viennese Waltz earlier that afternoon, which was essential to feeling like a true Viennese. The palace had many rooms with different kinds of music in each, though all with live bands or orchestras. The main room with a large dance floor and stage held the opening ceremonies with the debutantes and officers, and then the festivities began. The waltz room was the most stately in my opinion, with more than ten chandeliers lighting the elaborate room. The night of waltzing lasted well into the morning, and my aching feet were glad to be out of heels by the end, but I will never forget the elegance of the event.
This will be LCSO’s last week in Vienna, and I’m a little melancholy to start saying goodbye to this place that has become our home for so long. I suppose that’s a small price to pay for feeling like a Viennese.