Attending the Opera is a thoroughly Viennese activity — like going to see a Broadway show while in New York. It’s been on my list of things to do while we’re living here, but we hadn’t gotten around to it. Then I read about Vienna’s “Opera for All” earlier this spring, and that motivated me to really make it a priority. Alongside the famous Vienna State Opera House, they put up a huge screen and project the performances that are happening inside, live, for free. (How great is that?)
We’ve been trying to go for weeks, but things kept coming up (the kids were sick, the taxes had to be finished, we had our bike trip). Today was supposed to be the day, but it was chilly (in late June — I love Vienna!) and rainy all day so I thought we were going to miss out on it yet again. And, since we leave for our long trip to the US soon, I wasn’t sure we were going to be able to do it at all.
Then, we woke up from our naps and, voila! The rain had cleared and was replaced with a beautiful blue sky, no humidity and a pleasant breeze. Ah . . . Opera time!
The show tonight was actually a ballet (it was a collection of short pieces, which worked wonderfully for the kids). We arrived late (mostly because I didn’t check the time and everything else I’d looked at started at 7:30 . . . but today’s was at 6:30 — oops). There were some chairs that seemed to have been provided for people (not sure, though, because we got there late) and some people had brought their own folding chairs, while many others just sat on the ground. We found a spot easily, set up our picnic blanket and started to watch. (We were the only ones with a picnic blanket. We were the only ones with a picnic dinner. But, rather than being affronted by our idea, it looked like most of the other viewers wished they’d thought of it.) We sat, ate our meal, and watched some ballet.
I’d love to say that it was a perfect evening. I’d love to say that we sat and snuggled with the boys while they were quietly enraptured by the dancing. I’d love to say that they drifted off to sleep in our arms under a twilit sky while Dan & I cuddled up and enjoyed the rest of the show.
That isn’t how it went. (But isn’t it a nice story?)
Instead, we wrestled with the boys (Mom and Dad are sitting down! Let’s jump on them!), chased Liam around the square, shushed both of them (a lot) and doled out several, “If you can’t behave then we won’t get ice cream on the way home!” But . . . seriously . . . it was great.
We stayed a little over an hour (including a convenient intermission which allowed the boys to run around and let off some steam). We did get to snuggle the boys (between being jumped on). We clapped together for the dancers (we were the only ones — since we were outside, and they were inside, they couldn’t hear us, but I figured it was good practice). And, we were treated to A LOT of dancing from both boys, inspired by what they were watching. (And, as it turns out, we did get to have ice cream on the way home.)
It was really fun, and pretty easy. The boys enjoyed themselves more than I thought they would, and no one was particularly bothered when they did act up a little. We were on the same block as one of the busiest streets in Vienna, so Liam’s noises were not worse than the regular traffic noise, and since the screen is way up high, the boys aren’t big enough to block anyone’s view. (We also had the sense to sit kind of off to the side, so we weren’t in the way of the people who had cared enough to actually be on time.)
It was hard, though. There was nothing relaxing about it, for Dan & I. I’m glad we did it anyway. We took our kids to see a ballet at the Vienna Opera House (albeit outside) and lived to tell the tale. In fact, we had a great (if intense) evening. My boys, at 1 and 3, have seen and enjoyed ballet. I call that a win.