Opera….my aunt introduced it to me when I was a little girl. She lived in Arlington, not too far from our home in Alexandria. It was just far enough away to seem exotic, at least to an 8-year-old. Occasionally, I would spend the night with her on Fridays and stay at her apartment through part of Saturday. She always had the radio on to the MET broadcasts, on Saturdays, and, still dressed in pajamas, we listened together. If the MET was not in season, we would listen to 78 rpm opera recordings on her turntable! It was one of the highlights of my childhood.
Since that time, I’ve seen Light Opera in Ohio, operettas and opera theater in other venues, Missoula included. The MET’s radio broadcast plays on KUFM when we drive up toward the Flathead on weekend. Somewhere in our collection of vinyls is Madama Butterfly with Leontyne Price in the title role. I nearly wore that one out! Still, we never have attended a full-scale opera in what is considered a ‘big’ house.
So, one of the things we knew we wanted to do while in Europe was attend an opera. We did that early on in Graz (Don Giovanni) and later in mid-May while in Budapest (Otello)and again in Graz [Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues]) with opera-loving friends, when they visited. And, at the recommendation from these same friends, we made arrangements to see Nabucco in Vienna when we had to be there anyway for a meeting in early May. We loved the feel of the Wienerstaatsoper, from the elegant yet simple ‘house’ to the custom of storing coats without asking for payment (unlike any of the performance venues we’ve visited here in Graz!). For attire, we saw everything from elegant long dresses to jeans!
It was marvelous. Although opera companies in Europe are known for their ‘modern’ adaptations of opera, which occasionally startle, this one was exquisite in its contemporary staging. It was a timeless portrayal of the persecution of Jewish people beyond the experience of great exile into Babylon. (think WWII)
We were treated to a masterful performance by Maria Guleghina as Abigail (Nabucco’s vengeful, power-hungry ‘daughter’) and the Philharmonic was amazing.
We had great seats in the mittel-loge
but next time maybe we’ll check out the standing room only tickets at 4€ each! They were right below us! (the problem is, you have to stand for 3 hours!) Even the standing room places have viewing screens with English and German subtitling! No neck strains here!
On our way to the opera, we visited the sobering Monument Against War and Fascism in the Albertinaplatz.
After the opera was over, we walked by the ‘star’ for Nabucco’s composer, Verdi.
And we would have finished with a slice of cake at – where else – the Hotel Sacher or the adjacent Sacher Cafe but we had done that the night before! (I know…a pity not to have that much chocolate twice!)
For those chocoholics among us, you can buy the whole cake!
With or without the accompanying cake, Bill thinks he may actually like opera as well, so perhaps we will sign up for the MET series simulcasts in Missoula which are broadcast at the renovated Roxy Theater. Although it’s fun to dress up for a night of elegance, Verdi or Puccini sound just as fabulous from the comfort of my jeans.
Pass the popcorn.