... an operetta in 3 acts "Die Fledermaus"
31.12.2009 - 31.12.2009 6 °C
The first stop for the day was a trip out to the suburbs of Vienna and Schönbrunn Palace. This is a former imperial summer residence and considered one of the most important cultural monuments in the country, is one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna. It certainly was when we were there because it was crawling with people - which sort of ruined it because the tour through the palace was as part of a slowly moving queue the whole way and you really didn't get to take in the grandeur of the place.
The palace was a site for hunting by the imperial family for many years before Emperor Leopold I decided to build a palace there in 1696. since then (like most palaces) it has been added to and changed as subsequent emperors made their mark. The biggest influence on it was by Empress Maria Therese who made it her summer residence. through the tour we found out a bit more about Maria Therese who had 11 daughters - all called Maria - and who all (but one) were married off as part of political alliances.
Also at the palace were extensive grounds/parks and as well as lots of sightseers there were lots of joggers running around - it seemed that they just ran around the various tracks and when I was sitting in the centre of the park for a little while you saw the same joggers pass you several times, but always from a different direction and on a different path.
From Schönbrunn we went back into the city to The Imperial Butterfly House (Schmetterlinghaus) which was very disappointing with very few butterflies and those that were there all seemed to be hugging the windows (wanting to get out?).
A walk around the city filled in the time before the opera. For New Year's eve, Vienna sets up stages in lots of the plaza's with each one seeming to be run by a different radio station. Also around each one were lots of booths selling refreshments. It seemed a very happy atmosphere, but was rather crowded. we spent a bit of time near one that seemed to be featuring Karaoke - we didn't hear many good singers in those who had a go.
A tradition over here is to give little pig ornaments (or small stuffed toy pigs) as presents as they are considered a sign of good luck for the new year. for the last few days there have been booths selling them all over the city.
Anyway - onto the opera. We had seats that supposedly had no real view of the stage and it turned out that they were the 2nd & 3rd rows in a small 'private' box right near the front of the theatre and on the 2nd. level. We could see a bit of what was happening by standing up so it wasn't just listening for us. We were fortunate in having a lovely lady sitting next to Cathy (who obviously goes to the opera regularly) explain a few things to us, including how to get a little screen which gave an English translation of all that was said and sung.
Die Fledermaus itself is a farce (name means 'The Bat') about revenge and has quite a few twists and turns as a very complicated revenge is carried out on the main character. I'll leave yuou to look up the details if you are interested (Wikipedia gives a good act by act summary).
So happy new year to all our friends and family (and any other readers of this blog).