Andrew and I definitely will be joining my family for a trip to Austria this summer.
We will spend the first week of August in Austria—that much is settled—and we will visit Salzburg, Melk, Vienna, Graz, Zell Am See, Kitzbuhel and Innsbruck.
At present we are trying to decide whether to add a few days in Bavaria to our Austrian journey. Once the Bavaria issue is out of the way, we will book our flights.
No one in my family has been to Austria, and it should be an interesting vacation for us.
This vacation will be devoted more to Alpine scenery than to historic and cultural attractions, but we nevertheless will explore the primary attractions of Vienna.
We will be in Salzburg during the Salzburg Festival, but we will not attend any Festival performances.
“Do you think your parents might enjoy a Luigi Nono opera?” was one of Andrew’s rhetorical questions to me—the Salzburg Festival will present a Luigi Nono opera this year—and I assured Andrew that my parents definitely would not be interested in hearing an atonal opera, no matter who wrote it, and that Andrew very well knew this.
“Then I guess we’ll have to forego the Luigi Nono” was Andrew’s response, his voice filled with fake disappointment.
“Yes, Nono would definitely be a no-no” was my rejoinder.
However, we WILL attend one opera performance during our vacation: a performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” at Theater An Der Wien, featuring an international-level cast (Erwin Schrott, Hanno Muller-Brachmann, Veronique Gens) in a major new production. My mother wants to attend an opera performance while we are in Vienna, and “Don Giovanni” at Theater An Der Wien is the only option, since the Staatsoper and Volksoper are closed during the month of August.
I look forward to a visit to Theater An Der Wien because it was the theater in which my favorite opera, Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, received its first performance in 1791. It was also the theater in which the first version of Beethoven’s “Fidelio” premiered in 1805. That both Mozart and Beethoven worked and conducted in a theater still in existence and still in use is quite an amazing thing.
Andrew says that, for the last few years, Theater An Der Wien has mounted its own international-level opera season each year, presenting ten productions in stagione, with international casts, international conductors and international stage directors. Its productions are rehearsed to a festival standard and have received worldwide acclaim. The performance of “Don Giovanni” we will attend will be only the second performance of the run.
I have never attended an opera performance in Europe—and neither have my parents, and neither have my sister and brother.
In fact, I believe my father has never attended an opera performance anywhere, and I know my sister and brother have never attended an opera performance in their lives.
Andrew and I will take a recording of “Don Giovanni” to Oklahoma when we return home for my brother’s high-school graduation late next month. The recording will give everyone a couple of months to become familiar with the opera.
I hope they don’t hate it.
If they dislike “Don Giovanni”, I shudder to think what might be their reactions to an opera by Luigi Nono!
BELATED CORRECTION ON 19 MAY 2009: Andrew had to remind me that I HAD attended an opera performance in Europe. In November 2006, we had attended a performance of Puccini's "La Boheme" at the Hamburg Staatsoper.
TWO BELATED CORRECTIONS ON 10 AUGUST 2009: (1) Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” did NOT receive its first performance at Theater An Der Wien, as the opera pre-dates the theater by ten years; and (2) the current Theater An Der Wien production of “Don Giovanni”, which ends its run on Friday, is NOT a new production.