Dear Dr Powell, Josephine (wife) and I seem to have shared unwittingly in so many of your and your group's recent experiences in Vienna, and I wonder if you would be kind enough to tell your students how very much we have enjoyed reading all their posts and looking at their photographs, particularly enjoying the contrast between the more majestic architecture of Vienna and the Nutella dispenser at your hostel. In fact we can only have been a few feet away from your group at the Hofburgkapelle on the Sunday morning (were you within reach of the sprinkled holy water?), and clearly their very positive reactions matched ours. We felt sorry that the magnificent, indeed definitive performance of Der Rosenkavalier seemed generally incomprehensible and over-long to them: we spent several days beforehand studying the libretto and mastering the finer points of the quite complex plot (less complex in fact than The Barber of Seville, which we didn't enjoy very much - far too many cuts and a rather catch-penny production) and the Viennese dialect, and we really wish your students had had a similar opportunity to do some homework on it. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra was electrifying, we agree, although we found the Grüber piece really rather boring and much too long.I'm sure all your splendid students will always remember the the quite extraordinary experience you have been able to offer them. It must have taken a degree of dedication to shepherd them all (by tram?) out to the Zentralfriedhof and the graves of the great: we had a similar experience last year, which I wrote about at http://www.lydianairs.blogspot.fr/2012_02_01_archive.html- if you had a spare moment to glance at it.Lucky students, and I hope you managed to enjoy it as much as they obviously did.Best wishes,Christopher Campbell-HowesWe are British, but live in the south of France. I am a hack musician, composer, conductor, pianist/organist and ex-timpanist directing a small multi-national choir, in which Josephine sings alto. We have good friends in Bellingham.
What a fantastic note! Thank you for sending it our direction and I will most certainly share it with the students. I believe that most of us share your opinions about Der Rosenkavalier and Barber of Seville. In fact I felt Barber lost quite a lot by being in German and not Italian, I know that is the tradition of the Volksoper. And I found some of the sets and extra characters baffling, but the students did like the more obviousness of the adaptation. I did not as much but was entertained. As for the length "whining" of the Strauss when probed further they admitted that the production was fantastic, it was a very long day for them. We studied the libretto before we left. The comments on length are a bit typical of youth I think. I know that with the exception if one, 13 others loved the production as much as I did. It is brilliant on all levels. We are currently in Bratislava where we heard the Slovak National Orchestra last night and tonight we will go the the Opera House to see Krutnava by Eugene Suchon. My students are gaining much perspective and context that I hope will deepen and inspire their musical studies. I am so happy you read the blog. I've made no attempt to sensor it as it has inspired many great conversations as we travel. I will look your journal up tonight. After Bratislava we will go to Prague before returning to Seattle (Tacoma). I have found that musicians who describe themselves as "hacks" are often the most knowledgeable and appreciative of the art. So, hack away! You have my respect. Next time you are near our part of the world, please write to me, if I am able, I'll show you around our University and get coffee. Thank you again for writing.