Monday, October 28, 2013

Weekly Interlude 21: Filling Time, Part 2

The Perchtoldsdorf Church
The Secession Museum
The clocks in Vienna changed Saturday night--a happy surprise yesterday (and today), when I realized I had an extra hour. I seem to have a whole list of things to do, suddenly, including finding some kind of Halloween costume for my classes this week, finding guitar chords and/or a lead sheet to "Sleigh Bells" (which I then must learn, memorize, and perform for the Musical Munchkins Holiday Party), and practicing. I've been writing a lot more lately, which is at once exciting and time-sucking; I'd like nothing more than to sit and write for hours on end--preferably in a cafe--but unfortunately, the Real World isn't entirely conducive to such luxuries.

Therefore, I'm becoming ever more creative at finding ways to fit small moments of peace or enjoyment into my life. For example, I write on the S-Bahn on my way to and from Perchtoldsdorf; I read a book while in line for standing room tickets. My friend who teaches English near Graz has also come up for several weekends; after my two-and-a-half long, lonely months in the summer, having two great friends stay in my apartment is unbelievable. There's certainly no shortage of laughter!

Last night, Eliza and I bought standing room tickets for the first time at Theater an der Wien, where Diana Damrau sang the lead role in Iain Bell's new opera, A Harlot's Progress. The young British composer (who is the youngest composer ever commissioned by Theater an der Wien) based his storyline on Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, which is based on a series of six paintings and engravings (1731-32) by English artist William Hogarth. Damrau is my Elina Garanca of sopranos, which means, for those who don't know how much I love Garanca, that Damrau is one of the fittest, most agile singers and compelling actresses I've ever seen. While the subject matter of the opera was most definitely not for everyone (I'm glad I knew in advance that it was fairly explicit), its execution was honest and, in its own right, beautiful. In my opinion, Damrau's tragic mad scene surpassed the famous one in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Her sink into insanity was carefully and subtly executed, a natural progression and decent into the inevitable.

Café Drechsler
Since standing room at the Theater an der Wien is far less competitive than at the Staatsoper, Eliza and I actually arrived to the theater way too early; the doors weren't even open yet! So we walked down the street and plunked down at Café Drechsler for an hour. Over coffee, we discussed everything from Eliza's voice teacher's experience singing at the Staatsoper to our experiences with the singing technique of appoggio. (Talk about Susan's artistic adventures!) Drechsler, a sparsely decorated though warm cafe, is the only one in Vienna open 24 hours...I sense some long, writing-filled days in my future.
A temporary wall at Theater an der Wien

Meanwhile, I spent yesterday afternoon with Lillian at a playground right behind the center of Perchtoldsdorf. It was a beautiful fall day and unseasonably warm. The town looks so Austrian, though I'm not sure any of my pictures did it justice. Today, I take her to dance class, which she loves, and then I'll use the forty minutes to run out and buy a tiara or cat ears or something for my Musical Munchkins Halloween costume.

Bernstein Star, near Theater a. d. Wien
Side Note: Eliza and I are planning to go to a Halloween party this Thursday, and like true opera dorks, Eliza's dressing as Salome (from R. Strauss's opera Salome), and I'm dressing, with my limited costume choices and inclination to dress up at all, as a Pants Role. In opera, a pants role is when a female singer, typically a mezzo-soprano, sings the role of a young man. Basically, I'll be wearing pants, boots, a blouse, and an old-fashioned looking jacket. Go me. Can you tell how enthusiastic I am about this holiday?
But Christmas, my favorite holiday, is coming soon, starting with the Christmas Markets which open in Vienna at the end of November. In less than two months, I'll be home for the holidays--let's see how much I can cram in between now and then. Can I stretch out this extra hour from Daylight Savings' Time for the next couple of days at least? I can but try.
Church and bell tower in Perchtoldsdorf center

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