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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Day 7 - Part 2

After lunch, we decided to cancel our plan to enter the Haus der Musik because we find the ticket is a bit steep for such an empty museum. We decided to get cheap opera ticket instead. We headed towards Sacher Hotel to take a break before lining up for Opera. Again, Sacher Hotel was being renovated!

We entered Sacher 'Eck, the small café at the corner of Sacher. I ordered Kleinbrauner (small black coffee), Indi ordered Hot Chocolate with Rum, and for both of us, Sacher Torte mit Sahne. It tasted heavenly. There was no acidity at all in the coffee, indeed it was a high quality coffee. We also experimented by pouring the remaining rum on top of the Sacher Torte and this made the flavour even more heavenly. The waiter was puzzled by our action, and reminded us that the Rum was supposed to be put in the coffee. He did not know that Rum and Sacher Torte could also create a perfect combination.

Outside Sacher, we saw two Gypsy people basking with violin and accordion, playing Gypsy songs.

Then we went to Opera (which is also being renovated), and a five and a half hour Don Carlos opera by Verdi is going to be screened today (it was just being premiered few weeks before). We got standing place at the Parterre for only EUR3.5.

Indi put the bags and coat at the cloakroom and borrowed a binocular from there. It turned out that our standing place is really strategically located right at the centre in front of the stage. The front most standing places were unoccupied because it seemed that it is used by the ORF crew (TV station that recorded the play). Indi asked the ORF cameraman whether we could take that place and yes, he said we can. So we ended up securing the front most row of the Stehplatz, with nobody behind us, so we could lay or sit leaning towards the back wall. The standing place was really nice, they even have subtitle screen at each place. Too bad, two Chinese tourist couple pushed their way beside Indi without even asking permission, and they kept making loud noises during the first act (Luckily they left after the first act).

Anyway, this is where we were located.

This is how the stage curtain looked like before the performance started (scanned from postcard).

This is how close our standing place was from the stage. The black lines behind the chair were subtitle screen. In the standing place we also have those, so we could follow the story in english.

You can approximate how close Indi to the stage from his place.

Rani was also similarly close to the stage, but she decided to play around with the binoculars. You can see the friendly cameraman on duty behind Rani.

The story is a mix of drama, war, and politics of Spain and France in 16 century. A French princess (Elizabeth) and a Spanish infante (Carlos) thought that they were set up for marriage, and ended up falling in love to each other. However, the princess is actually matchmade with the father of the infante instead of Carlos. Then the whole fiasco started. Carlos could not stop falling in love with his stepmother, while another princess (Eboli) fell in love with Carlos. The whole thing creates conflict between Carlos and his father, and seemingly betrayal by Carlos and Elizabeth's friends. For me it is a more interesting story line, albeit very lengthy, compared to Carmen which I have seen few years back.

We were so impressed by the quality of the Opera. It was totally high quality, the singers, the orchestra, and the staging. It was really different quality from the Hawaii Opera that I watched three years ago. The Don Carlos play that we watched is really surreal. The first act was using old costume. The second act was set in a minimalist and cubist stage, using a mix of modern and old costume. The third act, which is 'Eboli Dream Ballet' part, was set in a totally modern typical European house, and created a light-hearted and funny atmosphere.

After 2.5 hours, there is a pause and people went out of the theatre. It turned out that it is not really a pause, but it is part of Act 3 Scene 4 (The party and inquisition scene)! The singers pretended to arrive at the opera house from outside, and they sing both outside the theatre and inside the theatre from the audience seats, while all audience are still roaming around in and out the theatre. Some of the singers are chained, captured and humiliated by the inquisitor team, from the audience seat. It was a really chaotic but exciting scene.

This is Princess Eboli. Beside her is Rodrigue (Carlo's buddy). In front of her are King Phillippe and Queen Elizabeth. They sang part of the act from among the audience. People were confused, they did not know whether it is Pause time or not.

After it finished, one old gentleman audience who sit at the balcony screamed his disappointment of the disastrous act (at least that is what he thought). It seems like a genuine disappointment, however we did not rule out the possibility that this is also part of the act. After that, then there was the actual pause.
Don Carlos
Opera in five acts, in French
Librettist Francois Joseph Pierre Méry and Camille Du Locle
Music by Giusseppe Verdi

Conductor: Bertrand de Billy
King Phillippe II: Alastair Miles
Don Carlos, Infante: Ramon Vargas
Rodrigue: Bo Skovhus
Grand Inquisitor: Simon Yang
Elisabeth de Valois: Iano Tamar
Princess Eboli: Nadja Michael
Thibault (Elisabeth's Page): Cornelia Salje
Un Moine: Dan Paul Dumitrscu
Le Comte de Lerme: Benedikt Kobel
Un Heraut Royal: Cosmin Ifrim
Une Voix d'en Haut: Inna Los
Coryphee: Ion Tibrea

Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Chor der Wiener Staatsoper
Bühnenorchester der Wiener Staatsoper
Kinder der Opernschule der Wiener Staatsoper

After finishing the opera, we had dinner at the same cheap Turkish stall. Now we had the cheap spinach pizza. Today, we were really satisfied for the value that we paid compared to what we experienced today.


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