Friday, 11 February 2011

ballet in Vienna

I'm trying to think of a relatively short story from my travels that I can recall entirely from memory. My first attempt was of the journey to and first few hours in Berlin, but apparently even that was too complex to commit to writing without referring to notes, photographs and other such material.

Hopefully this account, of a failed trip to the opera, will be more successful.

Although even now I realise I won't be able to remember the name of the ballet we saw.. *sigh*


Vienna is perhaps one of Europe's most culturally regarded cities. Mozart spent most of his life there, as have several other famous composers. There are numerous cathedrals dotted about the place. The White Horses are famous too although I can't remember why. Something about art.

With all this pressure to experience and appreciate culture, He'll and I decided it was time to make up for the unsuccessful opera trip in Budapest, and see an opera. We consulted our Couchsurf hosts and discovered that Vienna has at least two opera houses; one traditional and located in the city centre, the other more modern and located a short walk from where we were staying.

Aforementioned pressure led us to the traditional venue, as it fitted more closely with our preconceptions (or at least my preconceptions) of what opera should be like; people in fancy suits and dresses, plush red carpets, balconies, etc.

So we donned our smartest travel attire (casual shirt with jeans for me!) and headed into Vienna proper.

The opera house is a grand building, located near an art gallery and fairly close to the Horse Riding School (whose official name I can't recall..?). It is also surrounded by people dressed as Mozart trying to flog exorbitantly priced tickets to naïve tourists. No phoney Mozart was to trick me and Hel, though: we went straight to the queue for late release standing tickets 8-)

~45 minutes later, after reading and eavesdropping on a synopsis by someone else in the queue, we parted with €4 each for tickets to 'Onegin'.

We were yet to discover that 'Onegin' was in fact a ballet. (Also, note that I managed to remember the name after all!)

The show didn't start for a while so we sat in a hugely fancy quasi-restaurant (after claiming our position in the standing pen) and drank tiny expensive coffee while observing the clearly richer-and-more-successful-than-us patrons going about their pre-ballet business.

Then the show started. I was still vaguely bummed about our planned opera being replaced with inherently unmanly ballet, so it took me a while to get into it, but once I accepted dance as a method of storytelling / expression, it was amazing.

Like, really amazing.

The physical demands on the dancers are obviously intense, but watching them, you wouldn't know it. The elegance and ease with which they conduct themselves is captivating in itself, and then you have Tchaikovsky's (I think) music on top of that. It was awesome.

I'm not going to tell the story of the ballet on here, as it's not really relevant to the post, but you should check it out.

After the show we discussed how good it was over street-procured pizza.

Goooood night.


    Your story about the opera house triggered fond memories of Vienna. Thanks

  2. Glad to hear it! You've spent time there?