Thursday, 1 January 2015

A Viennese Start to 2015

At the finale of the performance when performing the Radetzky March
To celebrate January 1 in Vancouver, my family and I attended the annual New Year's Concert Salute to Vienna at the Orpheum Theatre downtown.

We went last year and had a good time so we thought we'd try it again and we weren't disappointed.

It was a full house and the former Austrian trade commissioner (did she just leave her job?) wore a dirndl, a traditional country dress with a blouse, bodice, and full skirt below the knee. She talked about how these concerts, that are presented in various cities in Canada started 20 years ago and now they are performed in not only Vancouver, but also Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, Montreal, Quebec and Toronto.

She even added tickets for January 1, 2016 would be available online this evening, or the old school way in a few days. Talk about advance ticket sales!

In any event, the show got underway and conductor Imre Kollar from Budapest was fantastic. You could tell he was very comfortable talking to the audience and telling jokes to liven up the atmosphere.

The Orpheum always has a warm glow when there's a show...
After The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performed the Overture to Die Fledermaus, Kollar turned around to say that he could see there were some late comers to the performance. He suggested they would want to hear the piece again and even got the orchestra to play the first several bars again.

He later talked about a friend who played the viola and was half gypsy, half Hungarian. The mother was Hungarian and the father was a friend of the father's....

Or he asked the tenor his favourite song, and when he named it, the conductor said they didn't have the score for that piece, but the orchestra would do their best.

The tenor later returned to the stage to see Kollar was not there so he stepped onto the podium and started conducting the orchestra, when the conductor returned and had no choice but to start singing the first few bars of the song...

And after the ballet dancers leave the stage, Kollar asks the audience how their performance was, because his back is to them and can't see them dancing...

You get the picture.

The two opera singers were fantastic, particularly Polish soprano Katarzyna Donalska was utterly amazing. Her voice range was so extensive, when she hit some very high notes, it reminded me of those cartoons where the opera singer is able to break glass!

In particular Les oiseaux or Doll Song from Tales of Hoffman was excellent, where she acted like a mechanical doll, or shall I say a flirty doll where at one point rearranging her top that was holding her ample bosom...

Tenor Martin Piskorski was also good -- for someone in his late 20s. He was comfortable on the stage too and also hit his notes perfectly, particularly with Dein ist mein ganzes Herz, from Land of Smiles.

The show was also energized with a couple who are international champion ballroom dancers, and ballet dancers from the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine.

At the end the audience was invited to stamp their feet for Strauss' Thunder and Lightning Polka, Op. 324, which was fun, and then we were invited to stand for the singing of Auld Lang Syne, followed by the famous Radetzky March.

Wonder how they will top this conductor next year?

Salute to Vienna: New Year's Concert 2015
Orpheum Theatre
January 1, 2015

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