I think the most iconic experience I could have here in Vienna is going to the opera. (One could argue that going to the ball or visiting a Christmas market might be pretty close, but I don’t think they rise to the level of the opera.) It’s the thing I’m asked most about by friends back home, and, until this past spring, I had to constantly inform people that I hadn’t yet been.
This was often met with some level of incredulity — we’ve been here 4 years, how can we NOT have been to the opera (especially when most people make it their first priority when they come here)?!? Well, it’s pretty simple. The opera isn’t the most kid-friendly proposition, and we’ve opted to use our rare babysitter times on other things (like going to the ball). Seriously, Dan and I probably go out on average twice a year without the kids — once for the ball, and once for our anniversary (though our first year, and this year, we didn’t go out for our anniversary at all, so maybe we don’t even quite average twice a year). We really should have made it happen when Jo was here with us a few years ago, but we didn’t. C’est la vie.
But I’ve finally been to the opera! (Dan still hasn’t, though.) This past March, a friend of mine had a birthday, and to celebrate, her husband bought her tickets for her and a friend to attend the opera. I got to be that friend.
I know next to nothing about opera. I like music, and I like theater, so it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch that I’d enjoy opera, but I’ve never really been exposed to it, so it remained a big question mark in my life experience. That said, there was no way I was going to miss out on a chance to experience it! And, we were lucky enough to go see La Traviata, which is one of the most famous operas of all. And, frankly, even if I didn’t enjoy the show, I figured it would be a worthwhile experience to get fancied up and enjoy an evening out with a friend, at least!
It was great fun to have a reason to get dressed up, and we were so excited. Just going inside the opera house and seeing the elaborate interior (the chandeliers!) was a treat. It’s a beautiful building. We had box seats, and just getting to find and explore the seating area was exciting, too. We felt very fancy.
It wasn’t quite what I expected, but it was wonderful. I expected something closer to musical theater, where there are songs and spoken words intermixed throughout, but that was not the case. With the exception of about a half dozen spoken words, the entire production was sung. There was a small screen in front of me that provided a translation, and though I referred to it often, I didn’t really need it to get the broad strokes of the story.
Everyone was amazing. My reaction was overwhelmingly, “Wow”. The orchestra was fantastic, the actors/singers were stunning — at one point, the lead actress was lying on the floor, “dying”, and singing operatically in her full voice! (How does THAT work????) I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience.
I felt very fancy and grown up being at the opera. And also very international — the performance was in Italian, set in Paris, and I was sitting in Vienna watching it. It was a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad I got to do it. And I got to check something else off of my “must-do” Vienna experience list.