The New York Times ran this article on Friday. Do check out the playlist too!
I woke on Friday morning to the iPad NOAA warning about extreme temperatures at Rienosslsgasse 3 in Vienna.
Fortunately, I was home in Saint Louis with moderate weather, but more humidity.
At some point my iPad will figure out that I’m in the USA. I certainly know that I am! Witness:
- Iced tea!! I went for three weeks without it.
- Taco Bell. I went for 3.5 weeks without it.
- Airport staffs who are not multilingual (except in Spanish). Such a change from Europe.
- Air-conditioning everywhere.
- Cellular service everywhere without having to think of turning the phone on and off.
- A fridge and a freezer. (Small fridge only, with no freezer, in Vienna.)
- Loudness. Americans just talk so damn loudly.
- Diet Pepsi! I went for 3.5 weeks without it.
But as my friend Alice said on Facebook last evening, she has little compassion for the slight frustrations, given what I was able to see and do. And I expect no boo-hoos for the cultural differences and the weariness because of the seeing and doing.
And DO I did.
The research grant proposed outcomes are essentially complete. The draft report is 75% there, with some details and nuance to ponder and finesse. In other words, I accomplished the stated goals. The grant outcome was successful. Now we move to implementation.
Along the way, I was a tourist nearly every day — in fact, save for last Sunday, every single day of the sojourn in Europe.
What did I not do? Well, I skipped the Salzburg and Venice/Dolomites excursions because I just was not feeling well. Summer allergies are, I’m told, quite severe in Vienna this year. I did not make it to all the art museums I would have wished, and since concert season was over, I attended only two musical performances.
What DID I do?
Enough art to keep me happy for months. Less-frequented locales such as the Snow Globe Museum, the Freud Museum, the Schnapps Museum, the Imperial Crypt, and the old Jewish cemetery at Zentral Friedhof. Anglican Church services in Florence and Vienna. Florence. Choral concert by a British choir at the British Embassy Church. A cruise on the Danube. Cooking class. Visited Mahler’s grave. Walked in the steps of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Haydn and so many others. Melk Abbey. Heurigerabend. Organ recital at the Jesuit Church. Churches and parks and the Naschmarkt and gelato and beer and bubbly and schnitzel and . . . well, the whole five-senses experience indeed.
And I kept up with the daily office work. My email inbox is only marginally more crowded now than it was when I left, and no decisions have been punted to next week.
Now home for a few days, and with days off this weekend with few obligations, I can rest and recharge before the onslaught of the run-up to August 20 when contracts begin.
And I can love on Auggie, who apparently did indeed miss me.
Of all the pleasures of travel, returning home is the greatest joy.
Sunday, July 22.
Holy Eucharist at Christ Church, Vienna. Salad and dessert at Cafe Schwarzenberg. Visit to Central Cemetery. Walk in the city center. Organ recital at the Jesuitenkirche. Dinner at a bräu in Spittelberg.
Vienna is drizzly tonight.
I had visited the pantheon of composer graves at Zentral Friedhof in 2008, but today I journeyed there again, by tram, to pay respects.
Here are the minor people I found today:
For the biggies, I sang a bit of their music at each of their gravesites, hoping to leave in the air a little of them for others to hear, and hoping that somehow my brief song-offering would be an appropriate “vielen dank” for each of them.
- Beethoven: the opening motive of the Eroica Sympony
- Schubert: “Ave Maria”
- Brahms: “Mainacht” and “Wie bist du, meine Königen”
- Strauss: the opening melody of the first waltz from Tales of the Vienna Woods
- Wolf: “Verborgenheit”
- von Suppe: part of the Poet and Peasant overture
- Gluck: “Che faro senza Euridice”
And I must say that singing a bit of Beethoven at his grave sent me into a brief fit of weepiness.
The Met PR calls it a “passionate, timeless and indelible story of love.”
And so it is.
La Boheme was not the first opera I saw. That title goes to Aida at the Lyric Opera of Kansas City while I was in 8th grade.
But Boheme is the first opera that made me cry. And it still does.
I listened to the opera live from the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday afternoon. This fresh and lively performance was exquisite.
The ending got me, as it always does. Ever since 1977, I have been spoilt for C#-minor chords, as they always signal Mimi’s death. (Just yesterday, I heard a C#-minor chord in the piano in some theatre piece I had on, and I felt the chill of death at that moment.)
My first Boheme was March1977 with Pavarotti in the role of Rodolfo, on the first-ever Live from the Met broadcast. I wanted to watch the live telecast, and my parents relegated me to their bedroom, to watch the production on the little 13-inch black-and-white television.
Several hours later, I emerged crying in the way that only a closeted 16-year-old classical music lover can. Mimi had died. Rodolfo had cried out those incredible high g-sharps, and my world had changed forever.
And the opera still gets me . . . every time.
I was so terribly pleased and privileged to sing the baritone solo this evening at Evensong in the C.V. Stanford G-major canticles. This is one of the most glorious baritone solos ever written, in my humble opinion.
Here’s a recording of a British choir — Winchester Cathedral, under David Hill — singing this wonderful work!
I have had a musico-schizo day, at least in my own estimation.
Morning = coachings of legit and Broadway rep with freshmen music theater majors.
Late morning = work one more time on a cabaret act with an MT senior.
Early afternoon = work Christmas music with a high school student.
Mid-afternoon = play pop, jazz, and Broadway music for three cabaret performances featuring senior MT students.
Late afternoon = sing at The Church of Saint Michael and Saint George in a service full of silence, incense, reflection, plainsong Propers, and a Palestrina four-part mass setting, the latter two items in Latin.
Now = pizza for dinner, followed by a couple of Clementines. And now to put up the Christmas tree whilst listening to Bryn Terfel’s Christmas album, the orchestra conducted by my old friend Tecwyn Evans.
Last Friday evening, I sang the premiere of my new settings of Sara Teasdale poetry for baritone and oboe. My colleague Carla Colletti joined me in the performance. The impetus for writing these? An invitation to appear on a Webster University Faculty Composers Concert. Ten different composers were represented, each of them artist/teachers in the Department of Music.
Here is the premiere performance: