Celebrating Holidays with Opera and Art

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas just like the ones I used to know…

This dream was turned into a TV commercial by the chief of an Austrian electronic chain who promised to refund half of the money spent in one of his shops if “we have a white Christmas.” Hmmm…The weather forecast for December 25th moves up to 45 ¬∞F…

Live-Streaming Opera

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But we – the brave “Weaner” – stay at home: The Vienna State Opera, has been presenting her live-stream project with Richard Wagner and his “Tristan,” followed with “The Magic Flute” and “Fidelio,” each view about ten bucks.

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Austria’s Elisabeth Kulman

The Austrian mezzo-soprano Elisabeth Kulman caused a sensation last summer at the Salzburg Festival. She denounced the common practice at Salzburg and other festivals of paying no fee for rehearsals, and organized a new network “art but fair.”

Now she’s recently had an outstanding success as Brang√§ne in “Tristan” at the Vienna State Opera, and all the critical voices of her “art but fair” died away.

She praises State Opera Director Dominique Meyer, who is charging a small contribution from the consumer of live-stream operas: “The customer should learn that art has its value even on the Internet and should be paid for.”

Klimt Unkempt

Authorities have discussed the pros and cons of restoring Gustav Klimt’s “Beethovenfries”-a painting of 104×6 feet to glorify Max Klinger’s sculpture of Beethoven. It was first shown on April 15, 1902 and in 1973 bought by The Republic of Austria from the owner’s heir, Erich Lederer. With all the discussion, more people than usual now make their way to the Secession building to have a possibly last look at the frieze. A decision whether to restore or not is expected to come in the spring.

Vienna Art Week

The Vienna Art Week opened in late November with “posing with penis, poetry and palette”:

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Sarah Lucas art at Vienna Art Week 2013

The Albertina had an exposition of Henri Matisse and the (french) Fauves. The critics of that time called the young artists “wild animals” because of their violent and rough painting.

And the Belvedere showed in its “21-building” the video “Dependance,” which describes how cats in St. Petersburg Hermitage advance to employees: they are the only ones who keep all the rats in check. Also showing: an installation “Out of Austria” which interlocked realities: a painting showing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tansania, Africa followed by another painting showing the painter painting Mount Kilimanjao and a chair on which the painter has left his personel belongings.

The Secession featured Sarah Lucas who has worked since the 1990 with phallus and penis: she understands “the penis as a significant plastic form, a totem pole.” Maybe – and the visitor also turned to a henhouse installed by the group Gelatin.

…where the treetops glisten and children listen to hear sleigh bells in the snow…

Merry Christmas, dear reader. I am looking forward to meeting you again next year!

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Gerd-Theo Umberg from 2002 served as a professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts at Frankfurt, becoming vice-president in 2006; since 2010 he has been professor emeritus. Previously he worked 36 years in different German theaters. From 1996 to 2004 he was director of the Staatstheater Darmstadt. He lives in Vienna.