by FoMVIENNA, Austria - Greetings from Vienna, where preparations for New Year's Day (or Silvester, as they call it here) are well under way. Of course, the most famous event in town is the New Year's Day concert with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein, broadcast each year all over the world. I have pretty much no hope of getting in, as the 2,000 seats are sold by lottery a year in advance, but the concert will be broadcast Sunday morning on a large screen outside the City Hall (commonly known here as the "hangover breakfast.")
Still, 5 Euro got me into last night's New Year's Concert by the perfectly decent Tonkünstler-Orchester Niederösterreich, featuring many of the same Strauss waltzes and other light fare we'll be hearing the Phil play on Sunday. They were accompanied by soprano Simona Saturová, who sang the "Moon Aria" from Dvorak's Rusalka and the "Adele" couplet from Strauss' Die Fledermaus with energy and enthusiasm. Conductor Alfred Eschwé introduced each piece with lighthearted comments in German, including some play on Obama's "Yes We Can" campaign phrase, leaving the audience in stitches. Best of all were the encores, which ended with the entire audience clapping along to Strauss' "Radetzky March," just like they did for Herbert back in the day.
The cameras and lights for Sunday's concert were already installed: all they need now are the flowers, which will all be in place by this time tomorrow. Can't wait.
More pics on the photo page.