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Posted on on July 17th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

After the first week-end of July, with school having closed for 9 weeks, you see also many of the smaller businesses, and the major palaces of art closing for vacation, and families leave town to go to some summer retreat or plain travel. But do not worry – Vienna does not fall asleep – instead it is invaded by guests, students, and just tourists.

Instead of the usual indigenous Opera, Philharmonic orchestra, and theaters, all sort of art-groups from abroad come as part of orchestrated guest programs that the city is very well trained by now to organize. this does not only enrich the horizons of those from the locals who remain in the city, but also provides for the entertainment of the tourists and guests – after all – hospitality makes for a serious part of the Vienna economy.

Also, City Hall gets involved in setting up non-competing special festivals in public places. Let me move now to examples of what one could have done this past week-end.

For instance, as part of “Summerstage” – defined as Wine (culture) Festival – a series of well structured booth have been set up on Rossauer Laende on the Danube Canal. I suspect that this is a yearly event so everyone involved knows his place from last year. The wine part is obvious, and supplied by known Austrian vintners who also own “Hoerigen” houses. The food part is in the hands of selected – one of a kind – restaurants of the Vienna 9th District: Mortons Bar & Grill where this Saturday I had a lamb knuckle with a decent Riesling wine;  Charlies Ps – “Fish & Chips and homemade Pommes;”  Pancho und mas! – the Mexican place; Echo – the City Thai; Pizzeria Riva true Neapoli food;  and Casa Caribena – the Caribbean place where on Friday I had just some garlic toast with Austrian beer. In addition there is also the Viennese Pavilion where theoretically, if you order in advance at particular dates, you get expensive dinners delivered from the wine houses – but that does not happen in reality because of the fact that the mostly foreigners that come there at night just do not bother making plans in advance – so, on Saturday, there was not a single meal served under above plan. But no worry, sitting outdoors in good weather along the Canal is well spent time. Now to the Culture part – on Sundays – there are readings at the Pavilion by some of Austria’s best present writers.

On the culture side – Vienna, with its theaters abandoned for the summer by their lawful residents, the theaters are available to foreign troops – so I partook from this richess by going to see two unusual dance evenings.

Friday night, in the beautiful building of the Volkstheater, next to the Museum Quarter, I saw the Eduard Lock troupe “La La La Human Steps.” This is an amazing Montreal Canadian group that uses ballet dancing on toes with completely new way of moving the hands. I was watching with amazement fascinated by the movements and lighting – the four levels of the packed theater  so there was not any standing room left.

The audience was in its majority English speaking and I wondered where did all these folks come from? Yes, Vienna has a large expatriate community that swells in the summer with further influx of young tourists. The show must have been sold out for a while, but seats became available as some of those ticket holders did not show up to pick them up. The  musical accompaniment was by a band of four classical instruments on stage – at times part of the scene of the dance.

I will acknowledge that I was not really up to the very complicated text the dancing was about. This was a two track performance in which one track dealt with “Dido and Aeneas” while the other track with “Orpheus and Eurydice” – twice the young lady and the older lady appeared on two huge screens above the dancers – being there together but not really looking at each other – though – with sort of Mona Lisa smiles – telling us they understand each other. This tremendous image became even more a put-down to me and told me that had I known what I will be seeing I would have done some refresher reading of those two classic love stories, and the operas that were created by Purcell and Gluck. In retrospect now I see that it was not just the richness of the movements, but also the clever retelling of the stories that I should have been able to grasp – this said – I will just add that it is not an evening I will forget.


The dance series of Vienna summer 2011 started actually on Wednesday July 13th with a free performance of the Terrence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company based in Mumbai (Bombay), India with their “Jhoom” in Bolywood style. That is clear joy to the eyes and you really do not have to worry not knowing the stories of the Indian deities that are painted over the image they have of Holywood entertainment.


Sunday night, again, there was something else. This time it was the Belgian Jan Fabre who brought to Vienna his somewhat morbid “Preparatio Mortis” which I saw at the Odeon theater, and the Prometheus – Landscape II,” that will be performed at the Volstheater on Tuesday July 19th.

Fabre has the vision that death gives us better understanding of life – so we saw a one woman show of a sort of return to life. Annabelle Chambon, who trained and got started in Lyon, starts to move from under a carpet of flowers after quite a while of musical preparation, Eventually there is ahand sticking out, then another, a head and legs. We get a a naked  body coming back to life, After a while she retreats to her original place.

Fabre works in many different forms of art – not just dance. in effect he is the only contemporary artist who was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Parisian louvre (2008). It was titled Angel of Methamorphosis.

In dance he works now in choreography  with the Troubleyn/Jan Fabre  troupe.


As I said at the beginning – some summer activities in Vienna are very well planned ahead with the help of City Hall that does not forget for a minute that their city has to sell itself to visitors in order to support the city economy. But then other things happen that work in the same direction even they were not planned by City Hall. This Saturday this was no less then the event that put to final rest the Habsburgs Empire.

This was the funeral of Otto Habsburg – the last Crown Prince of the Habsburgs family. It was a State Funeral in all but name. The Monarchs of Europe were represented by the reigning heads of Sweden, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, and as well by the last Kings of Rumania and Bulgaria. Austria was there in the presence of President, Chancellor, Vice Chancellor, half of the Cabinet etc. As well there were at the funeral the Presidents of Croatia and Georgia, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and others from many of the various parts of the Empire – States that having become independent – form now a major part of the EU or are listed to join the EU eventually. Just think for a moment – Otto Von Habsburg as he was once called, in his years since exile from Austria and becoming citizen of Germany with residence in Bavaria, he was a Member of the European Parliament, and one of the movers to strengthen the Union and expand it to the East and South – thus making what his family’s Empire once was – a main ingredient of the Europe of the future. The Austrian Government, not afraid anymore by a revival of Monarchism in Austria – the last time a party that tried this got just 1.5% of the vote –  is allowing since last year the Habsburgs to run for political office in Austria. For those that watched on TV, at least part of the 6 hour long program – this was also part of a summer week end.
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