Saturday, 1 September 2012

Ball busting

In Vienna 24 hours before the Opera Ball the preparations to the entrance are routinely complete, including a cordoned-off Ringstraße to keep the plebs at bay, the press tent, a separate VIP tent-cum-covered-entrance where the ORF can ask inane questions of the inane celebrities before they enter the house, and of course a red carpet. It’s Vienna’s Oscar Night and the effect is monstrously tacky, but if you are a ball aspiring to be a Ball it’s the required look.

This was Salzburg at 14:00 this afternoon, four hours before the festival’s inaugural ball opens its doors:

Inside, festival sponsor Nestlé has secured the coveted right to promote kiddies ice creams:

The photo isn’t so clear but the cheapest wedding disco you ever went to had better lighting than this:

Moving on. The only event worth its ticket price today was this morning’s Verdi Requiem, with the Pereirian Besetzung of Harteros, Garanča, Kaufmann, Pape, Barenboim, and La Scala’s combined forces. An immediate standing ovation ensued but I had my reservations and didn’t think it came off as well as Barenboim’s Requiem (also with La Scala) at the Staatsoper last year. More on that soon. For now it would be remiss of me not to report that the karmic power of collective desire conspired to relieve Jonas Kaufmann of his cummerbund just before his solo number (it did pop open rather spectacularly). Kicking it aside was an unwise call as it appeared to be the only thing holding his trousers up; with reddened face and sheepish grin he fastened it firmly back on before the Offertorio. Apart from that a wasp attacked Anja Harteros but this didn’t seem nearly so exciting by comparison.

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