Austria Day 5 – 03.16.2008
On the fifth day, I went to see the Wien choir, horse-riding performance, the Museum of Natural History, more street performance at the Kaerntener Street, and lastly another opera at the Volksoper: the Turandot. Judging by the Carmen performance last night, Turandot was going to be awesome.
I got up early today because I had the famous Wien boy choir performance scheduled in the morning. It was actually a mass with the choir, but almost everyone was there for the choir. The monks sang in German for about 35 minutes, then quickly wrapped up the ceremony for the main event.
The choir boys sang with crystal clear, cleansing voices. Although they were very serious when they were singing, they were like any other boys in the world back stage; pushing each other, giggling, staring at other things. The conductor scorned them a few times, and watching them made me laugh. Nonetheless, their performance was angelic, and they were indeed the right successors of the long boy choir legacy in Wien.
The Spanish Riding School
Then I headed to the Spanish Riding School for a horse riding performance. The riders seemed proud, noble, and graceful. The riders circulated the stage in various formations. It was very cool at first, but seventy minutes of incessant slow-riding became a bit boring. I too didn’t have much background in horse riding performances. However, I still respected how they put in effort to keep the tradition going.
For lunch, I had a Wiener Schnitzel, fried veal with lemon sauce. It was an Austrian version of donkatsu. After having this delightful Austrian cuisine, I decided to take some time at a cafe to organize my thoughts for the upcoming Spring Concert, which was my last high school orchestra (Pro Deo) concert before graduation. As a conductor, I felt responsible for the concert to be enjoyable for everyone in the school.
Wien Museum of Natural History
Around 3:00pm, I headed to the Wien Museum of Natural History. There was a butterfly glasshouse on the way. Out of curiosity, I decided to stop by. Not many butterflies were there, but the glasshouse itself was very impressive. Not much fan of butterflies though…
Wien Museum of Natural History was gigantic! Dinosaurs, mammoths, rocks, and all kinds of animals were exhibited; some as taxidermies. There were some live insects and small reptiles as well. These were probably targeted to children, but I was the one enjoying the most.
For dinner I went back to the Kaerntener Street in hopes of hearing the pianist last night again. Unfortunately she wasn’t there, but there were other performers that buffered the disappointment. Street performance has a unique, special quality that stage performance cannot deliver. I could sit all day listening to them (I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures). But I had the Turandot opera scheduled for the night, so I dragged myself to the Volksoper.
The Volksoper – Turandot (Pucini)
I got to sit at the balcony today! The Turandot was simply amazing. If Carmen were modernly interpreted, Turandot was abstractly interpreted. The choreography, costumes, lightings and artwork behind the opera were surreal. The cast came from above and below the stage. It was quite exciting to watch. And the fusion between the West and the East (as the opera heavily involved China), made the opera to be even more exotic.
I couldn’t ask for a better opera. The singers were brilliant, the message was clear, and the stagecraft was jaw-dropping. Softly humming to the tunes of such an inspiring concert during a walk back home is one of the most wonderful feeling in the world.