I’m not a huge fan of any of these bands, though when I was 15, 16 I listened to Manu Chao a lot for a while. In fact, I hadn’t heard any Systema Solar or Irie Révoltés prior to the concert and I knew that by now, I don’t like Manu Chao that much anymore either. But the concert became a bit of a family outing, with 3 of my sisters, my brother-in-law and my mom going (and my brother and his wife wanted to come, too, but unfortunately had problems with their tickets), so I decided I would like to go too, enjoy the Manu Chao nostalgia and maybe discover some new music.
Così fan tutte
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (music) / Lorenzo Da Ponte (libretto)
Cast: Anett Fritsch, Paola Gardina, Andreas Wolf, Juan Francisco Gatell, Kerstin Avemo, William Shimell
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Ferrando (Juan Francisco Gatell) is engaged to Dorabella (Paola Gardina) and Guglielmo (Andreas Wolf) to Fiordiligi (Anett Fritsch) and both couples are very much in love. They are staying with Don Alfonso (William Shimell) and his wife Despina (Kerstin Avemo). Don Alfonso is convinced of the fickleness of women and Ferrando and Guglielmo agree to a bet with him: They will dress up as strangers and try to seduce the fiancées of the other guy. But will that end well?
This production of Così fan tutte is extremely slick – from the stage design to the costumes, from the acting to the music, everything is just really glossy and smooth. For me, it hit a couple of wrong notes (no pun intended), but it was beautiful.
Bill Bailey came to Vienna with his Qualmpeddler program.
Bill Bailey’s show is a mix of music show, normal stand-up and utter lunacy. He is a proficient musician and really uses that for his show, creating surprising musical numbers with a lot of knowledge and respect of but not much reverence for genres. And he’s just a smart man with a lot of funny stories.
Director: Brett Bailey
Writer: Brett Bailey, Fabrizio Cassol (music)
Based on: William Shakespeare‘s play Macbeth / Giuseppe Verdi‘s opera
Cast: Owen Metsileng, Nobulumko Mngxekeza, Otto Maidi
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Macbeth (Owen Metsileng) is a warlord in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Witches foretell him that he will achieve great things. Hungry for power, Macbeth and his wife (Nobulumko Mngxekeza) are intrigued by the prospect – and what better place to ruthlessly rise than a country at war? So Macbeth succeeds, at least at first.
I’m not the world’s biggest opera fan, but I was very much intrigued by the concept of this one. And the actual thing very much does the concept justice: the music is cool the stage and setting awesome and I as completely engrossed.
River of Fundament / Festwochen link
Director: Matthew Barney
Writer: Matthew Barney, David Grimm
Based on: Norman Mailer‘s novel Ancient Evenings
Cast: John Buffalo Mailer, Milford Graves, Dave Bald Eagle, Madyn Coakley, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Burstyn, Deborah Harry, Salman Rushdie
Part of: Wiener Festwochen
Norman I (John Buffalo Mailer) is on his way to be reborn. But a lot of things have to happen for that to be possible. First Norman has to wade through a river of shit to get to his own wake. But that’s only the beginning.
When I got the ticket for this film (which is part new footage, part footage from earlier outdoor productions), I knew that there was a high chance I wouldn’t like a five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. But I wanted to give it a shot anyway. Well. Now I can say with confidence that I don’t like this five-hour, modern, surreal opera based on a Norman Mailer novel. I walked out after the first act.
De-Il-Lusion is a performance that concerns itself with the creation of stages and sets by creating a set onstage.
A few years back I saw the wonderful shoot me by Grünbühel and Baio and since they liked my reaction back then, they invited me to the premiere of their newest production. Unfortunately this time around I am not that enthusiastic.
Based on the classic Swan Lake, the show gives the old tale a new spin: A young prince who has grown tired with his partying lifestyle falls in love with a whore who is being controlled by her pimp through drugs.
The second time around this show was just as brilliant as the first time around though interestingly enough in a completely different way for me. It’s fascinating how these things go sometimes.
Director: Joe Mantello
Writer: Stephen Schwartz. Winnie Holzman
Based on: Gregory Maguire‘s novel, which is in turn based on L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz respectively the movie The Wizard of Oz
Cast: Louise Dearman, Gina Beck, Ben Freeman, Harriet Thorpe, Keith Bartlett, Katie Rowley Jones, Sam Lupton, Christopher Howell
[I saw the production in London.]
Wicked tells the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became the Wicked Witch of the West. And it all started in school where Elphaba (Louise Dearman), whose green skin makes her a target for everyone, arrives as her sister’s Nessarose (Katie Rowley Jones) helper, to be discovered as a magical supertalent. Much to the chagrin of popular Glinda (Gina Beck) who dreamed of becoming a witch herself. But more is going on in Oz than it appears at first – and both Elphaba and Glinda are more involved than they initially thought.
I didn’t really know Wicked going into the show. A while ago I watched some of the clips of the Broadway version (mostly because of Kristin Chenoweth), so I knew some of the songs and I was familiar with the story. But seeing it put together like it should be is, of course, a rather different experience and one that really works beautifully. I spend most of the time crying and I loved it.
popfest is an annual music festival in Vienna where only Austrian bands play and which is entirely free. [Here are my reviews to the last popfests.] This year, unfortunately, I was partly crippled by migraine during the festival weekend, so I only made it to one concert – by Bauchklang.
I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Bauchklang by now. I’m thinking five or six times? Their shows are always pretty damn awesome, full of energy and danceable music. This time was no exception, though it was too hot to really dance and apparently I’m out of the loop because I barely knew any of their songs anymore (or maybe it was too hot to recognize them?).
I only attended the short version of the festival (because my sister celebrated her birthday on that day so I only arrived in the middle of Kate Nash’s set), but much as last year it was a wonderful show with even better weather this time round.