36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 151: New Year’s Eve—Die Fledermaus


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

Day 151 — New Year’s Eve—Die Fledermaus
31-December-1971 (Fri.)


Went running around buying gifts and just basically spending a lot of money.

Then went very early (with Mike) into the lineup for
Die Fledermaus—tonight. So that took the whole day. But what really burned me up was that some Wieners managed to wiggle their way into the front of the line. It’s people like that I really dislike because it shows a lack of consideration to the people that waited in the line all day. However, they thought nothing of it. Bastards. But later on, I had a little satisfaction by foiling one’s plan to save a place.

Being that it was New Year's Eve, we snuck some champagne into the opera house—it was tradition. And so, we were feeling good. In fact, Mike had the corked champagne under his arm and the heat made it pop. Our plan almost fizzled out.

Die Fledermaus was also fantastic. Tradition has it that on New Year's Eve, ad libbing, impromptu, and being drunk on stage is great. And even if you didn’t understand the jokes, you could tell. It was very enjoyable.

After the opera, we were walking down Kärtnerstrasse, it reminded me of what Vietnam must be like—all of these firecrackers sounded like bombs.

Anyway, our plans were to see New Year's Eve in the “Times Square” of Vienna—Stephansdom Platz. However, we decided to get a drink; a whole group of us. And by the second bottle of champagne, when the lights went out, we realized we missed Stephansdom. So anyway, we stayed. It was a great time—very friendly, plenty of drink, singing Broadway tunes, and making plenty of toasts. All along, I was feeling pretty good. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me. I was completely gone. I didn’t realize it would happen, but it was too late. I staggered home and into bed. Pavel laughed, but told me to put one leg over the edge of the bed (equilibrium) and it helped a little in stopping the spinning. Yes, you know, “the spinning.”


A Vienna tradition—Die Fledermaus. It’s New Year's Eve. Vienna is world-famous for it’s New Year's traditions—music by the Johann Strauss dynasty, Die Fledermaus, the Vienna balls (Hofburg Ball) on New Year's Eve, and the famous Strauss concert by the Vienna Philharmonic on New Year's Day. Today, we stand in line all day for standing room tickets for tonight’s performance of Die Fledermaus at the Staatsoper. (The Volksoper also performs the opera.) A few line-crashers ruin the normally well-behaved crowd, but we manage to get tickets and into the performance. Here is a link to the synopsis of Die Fledermaus from the Metropolitan Opera website and Wikipedia.

Tradition? My friend Mike actually sneaks a bottle of champagne into the opera house. He says it’s tradition. The cork pops due to the heat under his coat. Well, we certainly have at least one drink in the opera house. By the way, when someone says something is “tradition,” it might be safer not to listen. In the near future, I do one other traditional thing (in Munich). Usually, these are things you are not supposed to do and for which you can get in trouble. I suppose that we could have been kicked out of the opera house if we were caught. But we’re kids. We’re stupid. We follow the leader. (Kids and adults, do not do this—you may be kicked out of the opera house. Be warned.) Well, it was fun, anyway. Happy

Ad lib tradition. The opera and performance was fantastic. It is also tradition during the performance of Die Fledermaus, by Vienna’s favorite son, Johann Strauss, Jr., on New Year's Eve only, for the performers to ad lib, improvise, and make jokes and other comments. The audience laughs. I didn’t get the jokes but I laughed anyway. A great, fun, New Year's Eve performance.

Celebration. When you’re young, you celebrate. (Nowadays, I tend to go to sleep early.) Celebrate we did, in a restaurant. Drinking away. We miss the outside celebration in Vienna’s Kärtnerstrasse and Stephansdom Platz. It was a shame to miss it. Well, I get drunk. I think this is the first and only time I get drunk in Vienna. I get home on the strassebahn and fall into bed, with good advice from Pavel on preventing the room from “spinning.” Ah, youth. Winking

See the photo of Bernard Vogl’s
Christmas in Vienna to give you an idea of what the nearby area looks like today, and visit the link to his website at dativ.at to see a 360-degree panorama of the scene. Nice. ay 145: Vienna! Frohe Weihnachten—Merry Christmas!">See Day 145.


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