Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dear Wien,

I'm leaving today.
I'm waiting for the airplane that will take me away from you as I type this.
I really don't even want to think about leaving, but since it's pretty much inevitable, I might as well leave you with a few words.

To tell you the truth, your first impression wasn't the best.
It was dark and dreary and rainy when we first arrived on January 19th, and the weather didn't clear up for another few days.  I thought you looked just like any other city I had been to, and quite frankly, I was disappointed.
Was this really the Vienna that everyone had been talking about?

I don't actually know when or why I started loving you.
It certainly wasn't the frigid weather that did it ;)
It wasn't seeing Stephensdom in the rain for the first time, for sure.
It definitely wasn't miserably walking down the Naschmarkt and around Karlsplatz, freezing to death.
Maybe it was the Staatsoper or the Musikverein.
Or maybe the Mozart statue, your shimmering snow, the Rathaus, or walking down Kahlenburg.
And maybe it was the Milka bars, Giotto balls, Schokocroissants, and the Peach gummies.

Well, all of this doesn't really matter……
All that matters is that I really really love you, and that I will really really really miss you.
I did so much in Wien, and there is still sooooo much I could do.  3 months was much, much too short.
I think I will go through culture shock again when I get back to America.
Oh Wien……I could stay here for another 3 months……and maybe another 3 or 4 more……:)
I think I will just have to sit in cry, the whole airplane ride to America.

Well, my time is short, and I need to catch my plane soon……
Auf Wiedersehen, Wien……we WILL meet again.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all the great memories and experiences.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Friday evening, I went to the opera “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” or, “The Woman without a Shadow,” by Richard Strauss.  And by now you should know, that if I’m going to write a blog post specifically for one opera, it had to have been amazing.
I can’t even begin to tell you how mind-blowing “Die Frau Ohne Schatten” was.  There’s no way I can express what I felt in words.

The music was some of the most epic, grand, romantic, sweet, tender, intense, emotion-packed music I have ever heard.  Oh, those cello and violin solos!  The Vienna philharmonic probably did the best job that night, that I have ever heard them do at the opera.  Bravo to an amazing orchestra.

And the singers!  They were stellar.  Every single one of them.
The nurse’s technique was so stable, even when she jumped up and down from a contralto range to a soprano range.
The emperor had a lovely, sweet, but majestic tenor voice, and I could just hear the love that he had for the empress!  He was a really nice guy too, as I found out at the signing, after the concert (actually, they were all really nice).
The dyer played his part so well, that it broke my heart every time he sang!
The dyer’s wife……wow to her acting.  Her role truly became real, and everything seemed so natural……even the mad scenes.
And the empress, of course, was so beautiful.  She had such a lovely, sweet, but piercing soprano voice.  She could sing the sweetest love song or the saddest aria, and still carry herself over the orchestra.

Just.  Amazing.

The really astonishing thing about this performance was that I didn’t even like everything about it.  There were some things about the staging that disturbed me, like a fake naked man, or the creepy movie that they showed during an orchestral interlude, that I’m still trying to make sense of.
At the same time, I also saw some of the coolest things I have seen at the Staatsoper yet.  For example, for one of the scenes, the audience was given  a bird’s eye view to the scene, by a wall painted like a rug.  At the top of the wall, there was a bed hanging from the wall, with the empress “sleeping” in it (or rather, standing).
At the end of the opera, there was also a cool scene where the emperor and empress were standing at the edge of the stage, while half of the stage sunk down underneath the stage.  From where I stood, it looked like the emperor and empress were rising up into the sky, and it was such a lovely effect that added so much to music.
They also had cool things like fire spontaneously bursting up, and walls become suddenly see-through, a mysterious humongous door that must have been a virtual image, but still could be opened and closed, beds splitting into two, and such.  Just some really cool effects.

Bravo to the story as well.  Wherever Strauss got it from, it was an excellent idea to turn it into an opera.
I think a lot of people are turned away by the mysterious title, “The woman without a shadow,” but I learned in this opera never to judge an opera by its title.  Ok, it had some creepy scenes, sure.  But other operas have their share of weird scenes as well.
One of the things I appreciated about this opera, was that there was none of this, “I just saw you/met you, and I looooooove you, and I would die for you!”  No.  This opera emphasized relationships that strengthen over time, and I also felt like it emphasized the importance of family.

I was the only one from our study abroad program that went that night, which is such a pity, because I would have traded this opera for any other operas I have seen since coming here!
The ending was just so glorious and divine and beautiful……I had to keep myself from crying out loud.  There were more "bravo"s and "encore"s than I have ever heard at the Staatsoper that night.  They even got a standing ovation from part of the crowd, which, if you have ever been to Vienna, you know is a big deal (not like BYU, where everyone gets a standing ovation).

I know there is no way to express what I felt, but I hope I have been able to at least express what an amazing experience it was.
If you ever have the chance to see “Die Frau Ohne Schatten,” go see it.  Don’t be intimidated because it's a 4 hour opera.  It was the shortest 4 hours I have ever been through, and I was standing.
Just take my word for it and go.

Here are some pictures of the wonderful performers (no pictures during the performance, but these are some from the end of the performance).

The lady in front of me was standing up as I was taking the picture above.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


So, I haven't been blogging, yes, I know.
I just have a minor issue:  I've reached the free space allowance on Picasa, which means that I can't upload any more pictures.
I'm going to delete all my pictures and replace them with smaller versions of the same picture, but until I finish that, I won't be able to post anything new.

Hopefully, I will be able to finish this in 2 days or so?
Wish me luck!
I'll have my France post up once I clean up this mess!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Ich fahre nach Frankreich

I know I'm still working on day 10 or so, but I think I'm going to fast-forward a bit this next week, because Julia, Lucy, Kristen, and I are going to France tomorrow for spring break!!!
So, don't be confused when I suddenly start talking about Paris/Normandy.
I promise I will catch up with the other days as well……I just want to make sure to catch all the details of our trip to France.

Ah, France……this will be an adventure.
"Excusez moi, parlez-vous Anglai?"  will be the phrase that will get us through the week.
Wish us luck, and let me know if there are any important French phrases that I should know!!

Tchuss!! :)  (Or should I say, "Au revoir"?  I'm going to need a lot of help with this French thing.)

Mozart's Geburtstag

Day 9 (1/27):

January 27th is a special day.  It's Mozart's birthday!!!
Dr. Hinckley so graciously gave us this day off, so about half of us decided to go on a Mozart walking tour.  (Just a note, most Viennese don't know when Mozart's birthday is, and it's not a holiday either……just to clarify.)

We started at St. Stephan's Cathedral.  (More pictures of Stephensdom to come :) )

The first stop was the House of the Teutonic Order.

This plaque states that Mozart lived here from the 18th of March to the 2nd of May, 1781.  It wasn't a very long time, but apparently it was an important time in Mozart's life.

Some cool stuff that we saw on the way………

Color!  Pretty flowers like these really cheer up bleak winter days.

Cool street with some cool stuff.

Too bad no one was tall enough to have fun with these mirrors.

Next stop:  Mozarthaus Vienna.

According to our walking tour, "[Mozart] is thought to have spent the happiest and most productive part of his Viennese period in this building — certainly, he never lived anywhere else for nearly as long."
He composed "Eight important piano concerti, chamber music works, a horn concerto, the “Masonic Music”, the Goethe song “Das Veilchen”, the cantata “Davide penitente”, the comedy “The Impresario” and the famous opera “The Marriage of Figaro”" here.
We didn't go in because the admission is expensive and I've heard that it's not worth the money.  Besides, we're going to Mozart's house in Salzburg, in April!

By the way, we found some cool things off of Blutgasse, or, Blood street.


If you couldn't tell, I kind of like masks.

Next stop:  Stephansdom/Kruzifixkapelle

In the Kruzifixkapelle, the remains of Mozart "received their final blessing on 6 December 1791."

Also, St. Stephens is were Mozart was married, and two of his children were christened.

Here's a random shot by St. Stephens.  I kind of like this picture, because I didn't actually have to ask anyone to look at me :)

Next stop:  Mozart's death place

He composed many operas here, including the "Magic Flute."

Next stop:  Cafe Frauenhuber

Mozart performed in this cafe several times, and his last performance was here as well.

Next stop: Michaelerkirche

"The 17-year-old Joseph Haydn played the organ in this church in 1749 (he lived next-door in a small attic room), and it was here that the Requiem was played just a few days after Mozart’s death, in a requiem service for the composer."  (Sorry, I'm too lazy to summarize/paraphrase)

I found out that panorama shots inside buildings look really weird, haha.

Next stop:  Mozart Memorial

Now, Julia and I actually get to bid Mozart a good morning on our way to school, so this was a familiar site.

Julia had just come back from a violin lesson, so she played "Happy Birthday" to Mozart on the violin, and we sang along.  It was great.

It's kind of cool, being able to see such a cool monument everyday.

After the memorial, we went to Cafe Mozart.

We wanted to eat here, but most of us decided that it was too expensive, and our group broke up here to get something to eat.

Some of us, though, decided to go see Mozart's grave.

Last stop:  St. Marx Cemetery

(By the way, here is a cool building we saw on the way.  It's like a skyscraper, but built on it's side.)

Now, a quick note.  I got a little picture happy, because I love taking pictures of cemeteries!  I would have more, but my camera died……oh well.

Becca found a dead bird.  Fitting?

This was such an amazing way to celebrate Mozart's birthday!!
We love you Mozart!!!  Happy Birthday :)