>Vienna, 6:45 am. I’m on the way to the U-Bahn station to catch the early train back to Innsbruck. I only arrived 16 hours before. Got a call from a chamber opera company, and a request that I come out to fill in for an ailing singer in a role I had done in Innsbruck last November. She was fit enough to act the part onstage, and so I sang for her from the pit, next to the orchestra players.
I arrived at around 3pm, checked into my hotel room and washed up, then went to meet the powers-that-be before a quick run-through of the piece with the conductor. Satisfied that I knew what I was doing, I then had an hour or so to meet a friend for a quick dinner (thanks for coming out Patrick!) and get ready for the performance. I took my place in the orchestra pit 5 minutes before curtain time, looked up at the pretty, ornate ceiling above the stage and thought, wtf am I doing here!!?? In the fall we performed this piece in German, and I re-learned the role in it’s original language, which is English, just in case. This happened to be the first time I had sung it in English outside a practice room. Sometimes everything feels so natural, so normal, that it’s only at the last second do I begin to think, “whoah, girl, time to concentrate on this.”
Well, I did concentrate, and everything went very well. As far as I know, everyone involved was satisfied, the show went on without a hitch, I got lots of compliments and a drink after the show.
Back to this morning: the U-Bahn station was at a place I had never been before — the Stubentor (Stuben gate). I found remains of the old stone gate above the U-Bahn, and a few interesting (to me, anyway) plaques attached to them.
Above: The Stuben gate, with it’s tower-gate, was the oldest of the Vienna city fortifications built between 1195 and 1250. Rebuilt in the years 1526-1680 after the 1st Turkish siege, and the city wall saved Vienna from the Turks in 1683. 1857-1864 the wall was torn down, and the Vienna Ringstrasse took its place.
The Turkish invasion! The West’s introduction to pashas, harems and, above all, coffee. Legend has it the retreating Turkish troops left bags of coffee beans behind, which the Viennese found and gave a try. Finally something to chase down that Sacher Torte!
This plaque, right next to the first, gave me pause.
Dr. Balthasar Hubmaier, on March 10 1528 burned at the stake as a baptist by the Stuben gate, founder of the idea of religious tolerance, “Christ did not come in order to slaughter, murder and burn.” Source: “Heretics and Their Executors.”
The Christians of this city.
Suddenly I’m not in the mood for coffee anymore.
But here is something which seems to be unique to Viennese architecture: the elevator in the wrap-around stairwell. The only other place I’ve seen these is in Paris, although I admit I haven’t been everywhere.
And because I can’t resist the chance to brag just a teeny bit, the reason I came to Vienna last night: