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

Wagner’s Ring at the Vienna State Opera: January 2016 Tickets, History, and News

Zé Carlos Barretta / Flickr / CC BY

A dive into the deep waters of Richard Wagner’s four-part dramatic opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen can take one of two basic forms: the marathon or the more drawn-out series. True Wagner lovers enjoy partaking in both, but while fitting 15 hours of viewing into four nights might appeal to a true diehard, there’s something left out of an experience that dense.

What possesses even an opera lover to devote so much time to a single interconnected drama? In a word: genius. They come seeking an opera experience which stands alone amongst all the other great works of the medium in its breadth, intensity, and place in the hearts of its devotees.

How did such an enormous interconnected work come about? The answer is intertwined with the history of Europe and how Richard Wagner navigated it during his chaotic and brilliant life. Continue reading

Vienna’s Must-See Opera and Concerts this December and January

A winter snowfall over Vienna

A winter snowfall over Vienna
gego2605 / foter / CC BY-SA

Attending an opera or classical concert in the depths of a Viennese winter is unlike any other time or place. A walk along the Ringstrasse beneath glittering lights and architectural gems before a fabulous performance and an elegant dinner: it’s something no other city does quite like Vienna.

This winter is no different. With new performances coming to Vienna on top of several excellent one-time events, there’s no shortage of outstanding opera and concerts to attend. But what are some of the best events to keep an eye on and worth planning a trip around?

Here are the top four Vienna events you can’t miss this December and January. Continue reading

Sir Frederick Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée: A Near-Perfect Ballet

La Fille mal gardée

A moment from a performance of La Fille mal gardée.

If you have even a passing interest in ballet, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the timeless La Fille mal gardée. For everyone else, I offer an analogy. If you’ve seen how the comic brilliance of Woody Allen’s Annie Hall practically created the modern Romantic Comedy Genre in film, then La Fille mal gardée is the ballet equivalent, but even better.

Whether you’re talking about film of ballet, a classic doesn’t simply become a classic, the moniker is hard-earned. La Fille mal gardée has been earning it for well over two centuries. Here’s how Sir Frederick Ashton’s revival of La Fille mal gardée has made its way into the hearts of ballet lovers everywhere. To many of them, it’s perfect. Continue reading

History and Future of the Spanish Riding School

Outside the Spanish Riding School

Outside the Spanish Riding School
AkaashMaharaj / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

If such a thing is possible, the history of the world-famous Spanish Riding School rivals that of Vienna itself in terms of of its fascination, longevity, and unexpected drama. Four and a half centuries after its establishment, the school remains a true product of the renaissance, a living time capsule of the values and aspirations of that era.

But how did it survive? Continue reading