Ballet double feature: Verklungene Feste and Josephs Legende

John Neumeier’s powerful double feature Verklungene Feste and Josephs Legende appears twice on the December schedule of the Vienna State Opera. There is much to learn about these two great works of ballet before experiencing them yourself.

Verklungene Feste, that is Bygone Celebrations, is set in 1830 at an opulent Parisian residence and is a tale of an elderly aristocrat who sponsors a revival of courtly dances from the early eighteenth century. Thus Verklungene Feste is a ballet about ballet, and we witness the transition from baroque dances to “modern” ballet.

Verklungene Feste had its premiere in Munich on 5 April 1941. Originally choreographed by Pia and Pino Mlakar, the work was comprised of reconstructions of baroque dances and newly composed romantic ballet. The music is an orchestration by Richard Strauss of baroque cembalo music. Indeed, the work has been interpreted as Strauss’s acceptance of the ephemerality of music and dance and of the futility of trying to resurrect the past.

The second part of the evening is dedicated to another classic by Richard Strauss – Jospehs Legende. This work had its premiere in 1914 in Paris, and was Strauss’s first and only collaboration with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes.

The ballet centers around the story of Joseph from the Torah and the Old Testament narratives. This work however was distinguished from previous and future versions in a number of ways, most notably of which is that Joseph is reimagined as a dancer.

Through dancing, Joseph is overcome with a vision of an angel and pursues his godly salvation instead of the earthly delights laid before him. Neumeier’s choreography strikes at the heart of this tension, laying bare the sensuality of Joseph’s story in a way that, far from debasing or reveling in it, seeks to understand its subtle eroticism. The entire story comes to a head as Joseph must face a brutal punishment for a crime not his own.

Once again, the minimalism and subtlety of the performance contrasts strongly with the grand locales and themes explored within it. In the end, this only serves to underlie the most beautiful and moving elements of Josephs Legende: fate, sexuality, and the harshness of life in the world of the Old Testament.

Book Your Tickets for the Ballet Double Feature Today

With only two performances in December, this unique opportunity to see a modern master reinterpret some of the best work Richard Strauss ever produced is not to be missed. Book your tickets now and guarantee you’ll get the best seats possible.

Vienna State Opera: 5 operas not to miss this October

General booking for October performances at the Vienna State Opera has already  started and, although some of you may have made their Vienna Opera Plans already, we felt the urge to share the 5 operas that we think truly stand out in this October’s programme. Obviously the Vienna Opera experience is unique and it is always a difficult choice to decide which events you should attend! Your No1 rule should be: go to as many as you can (afford). Continue reading

What’s new at the Vienna Opera Ball 2017?

The 61st Vienna Opera Ball will take place on 23.February at the Vienna State Opera. The new organizer is Maria Grossbauer, the daughter of a member of the Vienna Philharmonics. She has studied music and is in charge of a PR agency.

The star tenor Jonas Kaufmann will sing for the first time at the opening of the Vienna Opera Ball („La fleur que tu m’avais jetée“from Carmen und „Dein ist mein ganzes Herz“ from Das Land des Lächelns). Continue reading

Vienna State Opera: Top Spring 2016 must-see Operas

Vienna state opera in spring

Franz Jachim / flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Vienna may be a first-class winter holiday destination, but one can hardly ignore the feelings of relief and even joy that come with watching the snows melt. Fortunately, what comes along with the end of winter is a slate of wonderful new performances at the Vienna State Opera and Volksoper.

This spring, we have our eye on four particular performances. Continue reading

The Exciting Blend of Verklungene Feste and Josephs Legende

Vienna has long been a city where art stays vibrant and alive for centuries after its creation. With ballet, it’s no different

Vienna has long been a city where art stays vibrant and alive for centuries after its creation. With ballet, it’s no different
jeff / Flickr / CC BY-SA

Vienna has long been a city where art stays vibrant and alive for centuries after its creation. With ballet, it’s no different. For proof, look no further than choreographer John Neumeier’s ambitious reimagining of two great works of ballet, Verklungene Feste and Josephs Legende, in a powerful double feature.

Aside from what you can experience in the previews the Vienna Staatsballett has recorded and made available online, there’s much to learn about these two pieces before experiencing them yourself. Continue reading

Top Attractions to Compliment Your Winter Vacation in Vienna

The magnificent Belvedere is even more captivating in the winter

franzj / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Finding an ideal location for a winter holiday trip is never easy. Whether you’re into winter sports, finding a cozy cottage somewhere, or retreating to the equator for some beach time, there’s always the risk someone in the family won’t be happy; it comes down to finding the perfect balance of activities for a perfect winter holiday.

Lucky for you, Vienna has plenty of music events to offer, even for those who don’t think they would love an evening of opera or classical music.

Here are our top picks that you can’t help but love this winter. Continue reading

The Charm and Beauty of The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte)

The Charm and Beauty of The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte)

Sidneiensis / Flickr / CC BY

A classic almost since its premier in 1791, The Magic Flute cleverly plays on our ideas and expectations about fairy tales and opera itself, in a way that only Mozart could manage in that era. In the 225 years since then, the opera’s allure has only grown. It may have a handsome prince fighting for love against the forces of evil, but there’s much more than meets the eye.

Critics continue to devote hours or even careers to the work. There’s delight for anyone, true, but these are deep waters for any serious lovers of music, drama, or simply the ecstasy one finds in truly great art. Continue reading

Vienna State Opera Features: The Makropulos Affair by Leos Janácek

Czech nationalism in musical form, immortality, bizarre real-life onstage deaths – all inspired by unrequited love for a substantially younger woman: Leos Janácek’s opera The Makropulos Affair could hardly stand to pack much more into its history or its running time.

Though Věc Makropulos literally translates from Czech as “The Makropulos Thing,” the Affair is part detective story, part fantasy, part failed love story. To anyone familiar with Czech culture and art, it is above all, very Czech. That’s how Leos Janácek wanted it. But what makes this opera so unique and even peculiar? For that, we should start with the story of its creation. Continue reading