36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 278: Old lady at the opera, with a score


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 278 — Old lady at the opera, with a score
06-May-1972 (Samstag–Sat.)


Practice and organizational work—of project—for most of day.

Der Rosenkavlier. Very enjoyable. As with most of these operas, I feel that I have to hear and learn the music, much more than one time. Still enjoyable.


Normal day. Nothing much for the journal. Working on my Fantasy composition documentation and an opera at night.

Listening to opera. Tonight is Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier. When I go to the opera in Vienna, I have not studied it in advance. I am not looking at the score. I almost always do not know the story but I read the program notes (in German). I simply take in the music, the singing, the stage performance, the sets, and the drama, as a musical performance. I am not an opera aficionado. If you ask me to tell you the stories of operas or to sing the melodies, I can’t do it. It is still extremely enjoyable to me—to experience the music as pure music. In the journal, I state that I should be studying and learning these operas over and over again. That’s how you become an opera fan, an opera expert. For me, it’s enjoyable to just experience opera as opera.

Opera is perhaps one of the first multimedia musical experiences.

Old lady with a score. I have mentioned before that we had a “standing room” ritual at the Staatsoper for every performance—lining up early, the doors opening, then the crowd moving slowly up the stairs led by an usher, and finally darting (running) into the various standing room places on one or two of the top floors of the opera house. Every night, in the same spot, there was an old lady who sat in her special standing room place. She had a small light and a musical score or libretto. She never watched the opera itself, she just followed the music in the score. Opera as a “live” CD, perhaps. It was fascinating to watch her.

I was told that she attended many, many opera performance over many years. She was an opera patron
during the time of Mahler. Imagine that. A slice of musical history. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to speak to her?


Der Rosenkavalier in Wikipedia


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