Domingo Shines, “Saliera” Shocks, Kampusch Suffers, and More…

The heart of man is a source of permanent suffering…

Simon Boccanegra, in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of that title, sings this famous line at the end of his life. It recently brought entranced Vienna audiences to their feet.

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Global superstar Placido Domingo, 72, still general director of the Los Angeles Opera, performed four evenings at the Vienna State Opera as Simon Boccanegra – and the hearts of the audience were a source of over twenty-minute standing ovations…(my hands were searing hot…) Great opera at its best with an overwhelming Domingo.

The heart of man…

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Cellini’s “Saliera”

At least the hearts of those living in Vienna almost collapsed when people read in the newspapers on March 11, 2003, that the wonderful Salt Cellar “Saliera”, a part-enamelled gold table sculpture by Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), had been stolen from the Museum of Fine Arts. The FBI put the theif on the list as No. 5 of the most wanted criminals.

Finally, in 2006, with the help of “chief inspector luck,” the confessed offender Robert Mang, owner of an alarm-system firm, had been arrested by the Austrian police. He then led them to a forest northwest of Vienna, where he had buried the Saliera.

Now this wonderful and gracious work, worth €36 million, is one of the stars at the reopening of the Cabinet of Curiosity-the pride of the Museum of Fine Arts-after about eight years of reconstruction. The rooms are delicate, the curiosities have space to breathe, and a gorgeous light design will let you forget all about the world outside.

Besides the Saliera, another star of the renewed Cabinet is also a beauty: The Krumau (from Cesky Krumlov, CZ) Madonna, the epitome of Late Gothic sculpture of Mary with the Christ child. So come on and get your personal impression of the cabinet: KHM Augmented Reality App (available in Apple stores or under www.khm.at)

Cesky Krumlov, by the way, hosted Egon Schiele, the eccentric Austrian figurative painter of the expressionisme, for some years, before Schiele and his lover Walburga (Wally) Neuzil were driven out of town.

The heart of man is a source of permanent suffering…

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Natascha Kampusch

The movie 3096 Days, about the abduction of Natascha Kampusch, had its first night at Vienna on Feb. 28. Over 30,000 visitors at the week-end showings wanted to see details of her kidnapping, which lasted over 8 years-from the age of 10 in 1998, until she escaped at the age of 18 in 2006.

The case of Natascha Kampusch is still a controversy; the Austrian police said that there was no complicity; the kidnapper Wolfgang Priklopil committed suicide. The final report of an international committee with the participation of the FBI is said to be published in late March…We’ll see!

The heart of man … is a curious thing

Gioachino Rossini (1792-1868) is the composer of La Cenerentola and The Barber of Sevilla and, rather unknown, Le Comte Ory, starring Cecilia Bartoli. She had an overwhelming success at the Theater an der Wien (Theatre on the Vienna River).

Leonore (Fidelio), the Second, Third, Fifth and Sixth symphony, all composed by Beethoven, had their first performances at this theater across the Naschmarkt (nibbling market); as well as Don Quijote de la Mancha and the first night in German of Phantom of the Opera.

Rossini was also well-known as a gourmet: Everybody loves the “tournedos √† la rossini,” though the maestro was supposed to be an awful cook. He is said to be able only to boil the water for his spaghetti…and to be a lazy help at home.

Better to be an awful cook and a glorious composer than the other way round…So utters Pocket Vienna, who’s having right now “tournedos √† la rossini”!

COLUMN: Pocket Vienna
CATEGORIES: Music, Visual

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