One of things which we had planned to do in Vienna was to either go to a concert or an opera. The one good thing about both of these art forms is that it doesn’t matter about language. You may remember from Day 9’s blog that Ingrid had put us onto a hot tip which was to go to the box office and just ask for tickets.
We went to the the Musikverein (the venue where the New Year’s Day concert comes from). They had the Munich Philharmonic playing the next night. We went up to the box office and asked if they had any tickets left. I think in the same way that you can walk into a restaurant and the waiter immediately knows that you are English, box office assistants can look at you and know that you are a cheap skate.
“We have standing tickets for €6”
Back of the net! Sounds good to me. Karen looked less convinced.
“How long is it?””About 2 hours””Can you back cope with 2 hours standing?” I asked Karen.”Can your knees?” She replied.
Good point. Seeing the dilemma we were having, the assistant piped up:
“The next ones are €26, but you don’t get a view”
“What at all?”
“They are up by the organ so you can’t see the orchestra, but you can hear them just the same”
At that point Ingrid’s voice came into my head like a little Austrian Yoda saying “You go to the concert to listen to the music”. Hmmm, sounds plausible. Just to be on the safe side I checked what the next price up was”.
“€41 for a restricted view”. So €15 just to see a bit of something. Nah. “2 x €26 tickets please”.
We had packed some smart clothes for the occasion. Karen had a dress, I had some smart shoes (not trainers), smart trousers (not jeans) and a smart shirt (i.e. clean). The only problem was that it was lashing down with rain. This was the first time it had rained all holiday and it appeared to making up for lost time. So we got togged up and crowned our outfits off with our “Mac in a Sac” foldable waterproof jackets. Our bottom halves looked dressed for a night at the theatre, our top halves like were about to enter a bike race.
We arrived to a heaving concert hall, packed with wet patrons. The venue was as beautiful as it looked on the telly and we made our way to our seats. Our view was basically of the the other patrons. Still, we could sit there and play “guess the price of the seats”. They audience appeared to break into 3 clear groups. Well heeled Germans (of a certain age), Japanese/Korean tourists and the rest of us. The second group was the most dominant. The seats were comfortable if not luxurious. Looking down into the stall the €91 seats didn’t look much better. I have concluded that for value for money comparing theatres, cinemas, sports complexes etc. your local multiplex cinema are the most comfortable for the the cheapest price. (except for the Burg Kino and their aisle seats with the missing arms).
As they were closing the doors ready for the 7:30 start we noticed that there was a row of 4 empty seats right down in the stalls. “I bet they’re not empty by the second half” I said. There were quite a few empty seats by us in the restricted view seats. The doors slammed shut and quicker than you can say “Here’s an easy €15 saving” some of the Korean tourists shot into them from where we we sat allowing two other Korean tourists behind them who had no view to move into the seats just vacated and have a different no view.
The audience applauded so we guessed something was happening and we joined in. We then heard the orchestra. The problem was, not knowing the piece that we had come to hear coupled with not being able to see them, I couldn’t make out if they were just warming up or if they had actually started playing. Also I couldn’t remember if they dimmed the lights (or turned them up bright as in Prague). A minute or so later they stopped playing and there was more applause as I assumed the conductor came on. (Either that or it was a bit like “Stars in Their Eyes” when the audience applauds when they recognise the tune). Then they started playing for real.
It was only then I realised that I had 2 hours with nothing much to look at. When you listen to music on the radio, you can do other things, or if you watch the proms on the telly you comment on the bad hair, nice dresses and manic head movements. Here there was nothing. I was just sat there, gently steaming as my trousers dried out. So I looked around and admired the place.
Along the sides of the venue were busts of, I assume, famous composers. I have no idea who they were, but they all appeared to have great hair. I began thinking who would we have up there if we built a venue like this today. The only person I could think of was Lionel Richie, as according the video for hello, he already has clay model of his head made.
The first piece they played was in 3 movements (parts, to you and me. A bit like Ice Hockey). What I always thought was a bit odd was that nobody applauded in between. I nearly did once or twice. The problem for those of us not really into classical music is that most of my experience of Orchestras is from film soundtracks. The first movement was very film noir. The second had everything thrown at it (as Karen put it; “that was a bit reminiscent of all the right notes, not necessarily all in the right order”) but I definitely heard overtones of the “Imperial March” from Star Wars in there. The third was straight out of Schindler’s List and had a massive violin solo in the middle. In fact it was so long that I nearly fell asleep and was rudely awoken when after 10 minutes the rest of the orchestra decided to join in.
Then it was over. Except for the applause. The applause for the violinist went on for over 5 minutes. Admittedly has was milking it, but still, 5 minutes. I stood up to have a look at him. Basically he looked like Declan Donnolly from Ant & Dec. After the audience eventually stopped applauding, he said a few words (in German) and then began another 5 minute solo. Eventually it was half time (or the “interval” as they seemed to insist on calling it).
During the interval, we stretched our legs, took photos, tried not to look too scruffy (I was at least now 90% dry). The second half was much the same as the first but without the violin solo. The 4 seats that were empty in the stalls were now occupied by 3 young women who really looked like they shouldn’t be there. At the end we did 8 minutes of applause and we were treated to Nimrod as an encore (at last a tune I knew!).
We left the concert hall feeling very cultured and sophisticated….so we headed off to a Bier Keller for our tea to make us feel normal again.
Today’s cake was bought for breakfast at the station before we got the train to Budapest and was a Zwetschken Sandmasse. It had a sponge base and a plum topping. Recipe below.