Monday, September 18, 2006

Monday Night Classical Music: PBS Television To Broadcast Vienna State Opera's 50th Anniversary Reopening Concert

"Around 9 p.m. on June 30, 1944, the stage of the Vienna State Opera was illuminated by make-believe flames. Soprano Helena Braun, as Brünnhilde, rode her trusted steed onto the funeral pyre bearing the hero Siegfried, and as the orchestra, conducted by Hans Knappertsbusch, poured out its stirring coda, the final scene of Wagner's "Götterdämmerung" reached its end -- the "twilight of the gods," the engulfment of Valhalla and, with it, the destruction of a mighty power that once ruled the destiny of humankind.

In a curious twist of fate, that turned out to be the last operatic performance in the famed and resplendent house, which, up until then, had managed to maintain a semblance of normality in wartime. But, following that Wagernian apotheosis, the stage went dark as the war got closer and more intense. On March 12, 1945, just after 11 a.m., air raid sirens signaled yet another bombing run by the Allies. Within minutes, the theater that had been such a prized component of Vienna's and the world's cultural life since 1869 took a direct hit." ...

Prior to its devastating bombing during the final days of World War II, the Vienna State Opera was legendary home to a multitude of classical music giants for nearly a century. The House opened once again on November 5, 1955, and has since played host to some of the world's most esteemed musicians. The program marks the 50th anniversary of the Opera's re-opening with a magnificent concert featuring songs and an international collection of leading opera stars, including Placido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Bryn Terfel and Angelika Kirchschlager.

Tim Smith "An Illustrious History" Essay for PBS and PBS Great Performances Web-site.

The Austro-Hungarian Imperial-styled opera houses of Lviv, Ukraine, and Odesa, Ukraine were not damaged in the Second World War. Their interiors far excel the only partially restored Vienna State Opera House in pan-European classical beauty.

Photo credits: Lviv Ecotour and With thanks.


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