New Year's Day in Vienna

I generally look forward greatly to the Vienna Philharmonic seeing in the New Year with its annual morning concert on 1st Jan.

My enthusiasm for what will be happening in just over a month is now severely tempered by my learning that the orchestra has invited Mr Frankly-Worse-Than-Most back to conduct for a third time.

Carlos Kleiber (1989 and 1992) must be turning in his grave!

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We are off to Vienna to see the Magic Flute at the Opera House in 2 weeks.
Another bucket list Opera House ticked off this year, as we also did La Scala Milan in June😊


I haven’t been to any major opera houses in Italy, but what I was very pleased to find is that opera is played everywhere, singing and music and acting are generally very good indeed, whilst productions may not be grand, often with very little scenery etc, prices are also not grand, indeed very accessible, even for best seats. The only negative is no sur (or sub) titles, so for me at least it has to be operas I already know.
I hope to take advantage multiple times on my next campervan trip which will be to Italy.


If I could reply using green type, I would. Very well done indeed!

That’s a pity if you are not likely to enjoy it as these annual ‘rituals’ are part of the joy of the season, especially if you are still likely to be stuck where you are. I always enjoy the Sylvesternacht Concert from the Berlin Philharmonic. We used to go to the cinema to watch it live but now watch it live streamed at home with a nice glass of fizz (or two) with sound via the hifi system. Over the last few years they’ve increasingly involved individual musicians in the preamble and it adds to the pleasure, getting to know familiar faces better.


We went in June and toured from Florence to Lucca to Bologna to Verona and finally Milan.
Did Opera in Florence, Lucca, Verona and of course Milan.
Most enjoyable. From small recitals in churches, Arias in Piazza’s, massive productions in Verona to Verdi’s Rigoletto at La Scala.
An amazing trip. Lucca is the home of Puccini and there are performances of all types throughout the Summer. Definitely worth a visit and a stones throw from Pisa if you fancy walking up 251 wonky stairs😂

Looking at the well healed people in Vienna I have often wondered how long you might have to wait to get a ticket and how much it would cost.
Its one concert I would really like to be at.

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Probably a bit like getting a ticket to finals matches at Wimbledon.

The VPO has an online ballot for tickets to the New Year’s Day concert, which I think opens up shortly after 1 Jan for the next year. There are three concerts over three days which culminate in the televised 1 Jan concert. Tickets aren’t cheap (as you’d expect) and I think it’s something of a lottery as to where you are seated if you are lucky.
As for Franz W-M, I’m grateful that it’s not another Barenboim concert and we should be relieved that we no longer have to suffer the years of Maazel. I would love one of these concerts to be conducted by Manfred Honeck who is long overdue for a visit.

Our tickets for Vienna National Opera to see The Magic Flute we’re purchased on the day of release at an eye watering amount of money.
You pick a zone, we picked front stalls hence the cost, and they assign you seats if you are successful in gaining tickets. If not they refund you the seat prices, but not the booking cost etc…
I honestly don’t understand why they don’t use the one seat one sale approach. I assume it is something to do with maximising the space usage in the auditorium. :man_shrugging:t2:

Manfred Honeck is (or was) one of the Orchestra’s ‘own’, and probably won’t be forgiven for having left the nest, as it were. His father played with the Orchestra, and his brother Rainer is one of its concertmasters.

I tried entering the ticket ballot for one of the New Year’s Day Concerts every year for a few years, but gave up. I don’t know how many seats are available each year. The majority go to foreign diplomats posted in Vienna, and I assume that many of the remainder go to Viennese families who inherit a ticket in arrangements going back many, many generations.

I would love to go, but I realise that it won’t happen, much as I would love to have spent a night in the sack with [name your Hollywood starlet of choice].

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The programme for 1.1.23 looks interesting with a few rarities. I wonder if, as you suggest, there is an inbuilt dislike of Honeck within the VPO.
The Carlos Kleiber concerts were outstanding, as was the one Karajan gave. The dearth of interesting conductors for this repertoire is apparent in the VPO’s choice from a preferred select few repeatedly being chosen. I wonder how much internal politics plays its part.

Yes, very silly of me to forget Karajan coming back to his native Austria for his only New Year’s concert in 1987, a couple of years before his death.

He was a very frail figure, and (if I remember correctly) had to be helped to walk to the podium. He had the lovely Kathleen Battle to sing a couple of beautiful vocal pieces.


I heard and saw the VPO at the Proms with Bernstein. That was back in 1987. Ouch!
They are a world class orchestra and they know it, so that puts ticket prices at and above premium.
The consolation is the NYD concert is in my book just about the best thing BBC TV or radio do on that day. Beats all those “strickley” shows by miles.

Hello, Douglas. Did they play Mahler’s Fifth Symphony at that Prom? If so, it was the ‘dry run’ for their concert at the Alte Opera in Frankfurt a few days later, which was the performance recorded for inclusion in Bernstein’s Mahler cycle (with various orchestras) issued by DGG.

(I think the ‘best’ Mahler cycle available for record lovers, by some distance.)

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Hello Graham,
Yes, that was the only time I heard the VPO under Bernstein.
I had booked Prom tickets almost as soon they were issued as it was quickly sold out.
Remember the day well. 10th September 1987. LB died three years later.
Our seats were to the right of the arena and raised up to about the same leval as the orchestra rear. A good location to watch them.
As soon as the orchestra tuned up I thought what a class band they were. Mahler 5 was preceeded by the Mozart clarinet concerto with the solo by their leader.
Bernstein looked all of his 70 years or so, quite paunchy, but that didn’t stop him from producing a stunning performance.
Another domestic duty; to be continued.

You lucky clucker!. If I knew how to type with green print, I’d do so. I never saw Bernstein conduct.

Was the principal clarinet Daniel Ottensamer? His brother Andreas was, I think, principal clarinet in the Berlin Philharmonic.

I’m sure that their mother was very proud of them!

Back again! My wife wanted an Air Fryer so had to do my duty.
Bernstein 5 usually comes top in any R3 Building a Library. As you probably know the score was placed in his coffin.
I have just bought the Semyon Bychkov 5 with the Czech Philharmonic. Played the last movement so far. Not quite the push of LB but its a work open to alternatve views.
Humphey Burton’s biography is worth a read. Very comprehensive.
Years ago I bought the LB set on CBS. Typical dry recordings of the period.

The soloist in the Mazart was Peter Schmidl.

I have never heard any of Semyon Bychkov’s recordings. I do remember, though, that he’s married to the pianist Marielle Labeque.