Actually Seeing Tosca

So if you follow the Opera life in Vienna you would know that one of the biggest events this season was Tosca starring Jonas Kaufmann and Angela Gheorghiu. I have never seen such a line in my life for an opera performance. I have been to beloved operas such as the works of Wagner or for performances of great singers like Netrebko and Domingo but never have I seen before so many people. I went there at around twelve o’clock at noon and there were so many people already waiting. I can never be sure of the number but probably I would not exaggerate if I say 150.

I would be a liar if I say that I was not disappointed and that I did not reconsider multiple times leaving. I cherish opera, not the singers. They come and go. I am completely aware that hearing amazing voices combined with such divine music is worth every minute of waiting but when you have to suffer discomfort throughout the whole opera you are just deprived of the full pleasure there is.

At first we were waiting only outside and maybe four hour later they opened the doors. I have decided that if I make it inside I would stay but if not I would leave and just feel bad afterwards. I made it really close, there were just fifteen people after me and then it was the door. It was the first time that I have waited so long and it was truly an adventure. Once I got my card and finally got to see how many people were there exactly before me I got a headache and I am not joking.

After I got my place I was a bit relieved and finally had a bit of a break from all the waiting. It was time to prepare myself for what I was about to witness. The opera was really one of a kind. I am repeating myself but – I have never seen such thing. What was the first surprise for the night was after the “E lucevan le stelle”. When Kaufmann stopped singing the whole room burst into clapping. I think it was a total of five minutes applause, accompanied by lots of “Bravo” and “Bis”. Maybe one or two minutes passed and the poor guy had to sit down to wait all of the clapping to stop. Of course he knew what the audience wanted – a “da capo” or in simple words – to sing it again and so he did.

What was funny, however, was that right after his part Tosca (Gheorghiu) was supposed to come up to the stage. Well, she was nowhere to be seen. As the staging is quite old, everyone knows which part comes after the other, so most of the people were also wandering where she was. The Kaufmann just suggested starting from the top and I promise you that was so funny. I have always perceived the Vienna State Opera as an institution, deprived of emotion, reserved for high-class society or for huge music fans who do not dare share any kind of emotional utterances throughout a performance – that is saved for the end. It is as if people have the masque of seriousness and nothing should ever happen to take this masque off. Well that night it did, people let go of all boundaries and everyone in the room felt so close because they had the feeling that what was happening on stage was real.

I am not sure myself, whether that was a good thing or not. For me, personally, what happens on stage is like a magic. It is almost something out of this world and I guess somehow this experience took off the veil of mystery and made it more approachable for us – the “commoners” in the audience.

The opera ended with huge success, no matter if there were some funny happenings during the evening. I must admit that not seeing the performance would have been a huge mistake. All the waiting, time and effort have paid off in the end and I could not be happier that I did.

I can only say try it – you will Enjoy it!

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