Rob has been coming to Wiener Festwochen productions since we were here in 2002. When I'm around, he bends over backward to find the ones that I can understand in English or Spanish. They had several offerings this year, and I think we went to most, if not all of them in English.
This was put on by an Australian company. It all took place right out on the pedestrian section of Mariahilferstrasse (big shopping street). Our headphones helped us hear the actors, who wore mics, but they'd occasionally talk to random people on the street, or hide out, and it was interesting to see the kind of fringe elements turn out to have more moral fiber than the normal-looking actors. I'd work on the story a little more.
The stage for Small Metal Objects. We also saw Common People which was an evening of first dates. Introductions of 20 people and then carefully scripted meetings between two of them. A good concept, but I thought the scripts needed improvement. Rob wanted more diversity among the participants. We saw Fishers of Hope, about people in Africa: the breadwinner wounded by a hippo, a traumatized mute stepson, a flaky brother, and the only woman on stage the only one to shoulder things and move on.
We heard the works of one of Shostakovich's protoges performed at the Golden Room of the Musikverein. He (Weinberg) managed to walk away from the incoming Nazi invasion with his sister. She got tired and decided to head back for dinner, and he never saw her again. He moved to Russia, became a successful composer, met Schostakovich, but then because he was jewish, was suspected of something under Stalin and was imprisoned. It was only after Stalin died, and through Schostakovich's influence, that he was freed.
The venue was fantastic. Maddie and I also saw the Chiaroscuro Quartet at the Konzerthaus (by then, even Rob was feeling like we were going out every night).
And I attended my first performance at the Burgtheater: an opera in gibberish with metallic and satin costumes and rubber wigs. I loved our box seats.
The opera was almost sublime in places (the film noir section, the part with 12 adults on a giant couch all speaking gibberish in different accents), and just plain embarrassing in others (the eating-a-napkin section and the flatulent aria just didn't do much for me).
It was another year with lots to take in and plenty to discuss afterward. I always know that with the Wiener Festwochen, I'll get some headscratchers and things that I'll still be thinking and talking about for years to come.