So, I recently told you about how to enjoy an opera or a ballet for almost no money, now here comes something even more special - a little more tricky too, though.
Every year, a concert takes place in Vienna, in the gardens of Schloss Schönbrunn - Schönbrunn Palace. (Yes, the one where Sisi used to live, that's the one, exactly. Enjoy, Sisi-freaks - I know you're out there!) Every June this concert is organized where the Vienna Philharmonics perform with an internationally renowned conductor. This only happens once a year, so you can imagine how many people there are - but if you time your trip right, you can make it and listen to wonderful live classical music in a beautiful setting!
The first time I ever went Bobby McFerrin conducted the orchestra - OMG! I haven't been able to go in many years now, because of rain/exams/trips/... but this year I got to go again and it was incredible, even more so than last time. See, when I saw Bobby McFerrin for the first time I didn't know who he was - and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that. But I found out almost immediately after the concert who "that cool dude" on the stage was (because he really is a cool cat) and got all excited post-concert. This time it was more incredible, because I knew beforehand who the conductor was:
Gustavo Dudamel!!! I'm not going to talk about who he is, you've got the link right here. Let me just tell you, I saw a poster advertising the concert when I was transferring from a metro line to another and not only did I stop dead in my tracks in the middle of a thick flow of people who were also trying to get to the next train, I almost cried out loud when I read his name. Imagine upsetting tons of people by making them bump into you and into each other and then confirming that you're a complete nutcase by going "Oooh ooohh wooow!" and then giggling like a 13-year-old. I'm so glad I managed to keep my voice down...
See, the thing is I saw this documentary about music in Venezuela a few years ago which is where I first heard about Dudamel and was already pretty impressed by his work. Then I saw a few videos of him conducting different orchestras and, believe me, his energy is contageous even through a computer screen! Last year he gave a concert in Vienna and I really, really wanted to go but when I went to get my ticket it was sold out. I was depressed for a week. So, now we can all imagine how excited I was.
So if you're a little bit of a nerd like I am, you'll enjoy these concerts as well. World-class musicians led by world-class conductors - every single year!
At this event, called Sommernachtskonzert (summer night concert), they always perform music from operas, operettas or ballets. There's a different programme each year and they usually have like a basic idea that they build the concert around; this year the theme was "Dances and Waves".
And all of this is set agains the backdrop of beautiful Schönbrunn palace at night. There's a VIP area where people with paid tickets can sit right in front of the stage. All around that, basically in the whole garden area and on the hill that goes up to the Gloriette, there's an open area where anyone can stand or sit and enjoy the music. There are big screens where you can see close-ups of the conductor and the musicians as well as the dancers (sometimes they bring in dancers from a ballet company for certain pieces). The concert is also televised, but being there is the real deal.
If you come at least an hour before the concert, you'll be able to find a nice spot in an area close to the stage. If you come later you'll be further away or behind the stage, on the hill. But either way, you'll be able to hear well (better in front, of course). There's security personnel, people from the Red Cross in case somebody needs medical assistance, and there are public toilets all around the premises so you don't have to worry about spending more than just 2-3 hours there. Bring a picnic blanket and some friends and enjoy the afternoon/evening in the park while waiting for the concert to begin. In some areas, if there's not too many people, the security guys will allow you to stay on your blanket for the duration on the concert, so you can actually lie on a blanket sipping wine (or any other beverage, but you get what I mean) and having some food (all of that your own, you don't have to buy it there) listening to wonderful classical music.
Just wanted to share that with you, because it's so special. This year's has already passed, but keep your eyes and ears open for the exact dates of the next concert in June 2013!
Here's a few pictures.
I also have this really low-quality and extremely shaky video of one of the pieces, I'll put that up here as soon as I've got it on YouTube! - Update: video is live now!