We went to the Orchestra Hall Symphony Center in Chicago on December 30, 2012 to enjoy some joyous Viennese music that often lights up the season in many parts of the world. Situated right across the Arts Institute, the Symphony Center is a beautiful hall with lovely chandeliers. It was good to see the hall full, even at what struck me at steep ticket-prices.
The conductor Klaus Arp, with his graying beard and friendly mischeivous smile, was an absolutely delightful impresario for the afternoon event. He introduced every number on the program with a touch of wit and history, and told us about Joseph Strauss and Victor Herbert. I did not know that Herbert was originally Irish. His Royal Sec was n the program as a Champagne Gallop. Arp told us about black-haired Gypsies, and introduced us to the blond soprano Monika Rebholtz who sang Heia, Heia in den Bergen from Gypsy Princess. Ms Rebholtz’s voice was simply fantastic, drowning the loud orchestra behind her. It was her debut performance in Chicago.
The tenor Zrinko Soco, originally from Croatia, who had started his career at the Zagreb National Opera, not only sang his solos Freunde, das Leben ist lebernswert and Dein ist mein ganzes Hertz, and duets Dieser Anstand and Wer hat die Liebe uns ins Hertz gesenkt, with extraordinary dynamism; he was also a most charming showman in his gestures and moves.
The ballets Schatz Waltzer and Leichtes Blut Polka by Johann Strauss Jr and Franz Lehar’s Gold and Silver Waltzes performed by the three young men and the three young women of the Vienna Imperial Ballet added spice to the music played by the Chicago Philharmonic.
At the end of it all we were treated to some sumptuous extras – not in the program – which included the Blau Danau, Auld Lang Syne of seasonal relevance, and the ebullient Radetzky March in which the audience participated with rhythmic clapping under the direction of the Klaus Arp.
It was a most enjoyable afternoon, reminding us that even in the midst of all the calamities, man-made and nature-instigated, humanity is capable of so much joy and good cheer, especially from art and poetry, and especially from great music. We are grateful to Vienna at the birth-place of so much magnificent music in humanity’s heritage.
December 31, 2012