Arrival at the Vienna central station at 16:40 hours
Traffic has almost collapsed due to snow chaos and there is not even a taxi available. When finally one arrives, the driver turns out to be an opponent of the Opera Ball. Well, …
At 17.40 hours finally at the hotel
Unpacking of the suitcase to get ready for dinner. First of all, my spouse gets a good basis for the upcoming long night and orders the classic-triple: “Frittaten”/ pancake-soup, Wiener-Schnitzel and Sacher-Torte.
My thoughts are aleady on make-up and hairstyle, because the snowstorm is still going on. Thanks god there is hair lacquer, “a lot helps a lot”.
Meanwhile my husband is still fighting with neck bandage and tailcoat. Well, putting on a tuxedo alone is almost impossible. Dear gentlemen readers, you smile?… then give it a try.
Hotel departure around 20.00 hours
One-way signs and security locks block the streets and we loose half an hour between opera house and town hall, the only remaining route is through the Hofburg area.
Getting off the car in a big robe and high-heels is not so easy considering a 10 cm high slippery layer of snow. Nevertheless we arrive at the entrance and reach the wardrobe at the same time as the red-white-red-striped Foreign Minister.
20.40 hours. We line up on the staircase parallel to the main entrance, where press, radio and television are already awaiting the guests of honor. Unobtrusively, everyone watches everyone … he / she might be prominent.
As usual “Mörtel” Lugner and his honorable female guest is passing by; followed by the “who is who” medal decorated ministers, militaries, ambassadors, young nobles and riches. … yes, you might think that soon the aristocracy will be implemented again.
Finally the Federal President with his wife and other dignitaries stepped up the green staircase carpet (nowadays it is red) and have taken seats in the imperial box, the national anthem sounds followed by the European-anthem.
The specially composed debutante fanfare sounds punctually at 22.00 o’clock and approx. 150 young couples highly concentrated enter the parquet floor. The crowns of the young ladies are mostly created by well-known designers (also Lagerfeld once gave the honor) and covered with Austrian Swarovski stones.
The hall is traditionally decorated with flowers from San Remo; On the occasion of the 100th year of death of Johann Strauss son, the motto is “Roses from the South”.
From our place in row 5, balcony center, we can follow the presentations very well. A star tenor recites his aria and the junior ballet is dancing refreshingly a well known polka. Camera whirring, flashlights ….this is the moment you have waited for and it feels a bit as the emperor would come in. Well, that’s a bit over the top, but when the confrencier finally says the magical words “All Waltz” and the orchestra tunes the “Beautiful Blue Danube”, a sweet shiver runs down one’s spine.
Hundreds of dancing couples merge in a black-and-white symphony … I would like to stop that beautiful moment.
Although the hall and the entire opera house are very spacious, due to more than 5,000 visitors threatens suffocation. Surely not suitable for people with claustrophobia!
Now it’s time for us to strive for the dance floor too … the Imperial Waltz sounds. After only two turns you can feel the first elbow in the back, “pardon” … always polite … keep smiling.
All fears of embarrassing “Left around Waltz” is gone, because no one can see any feet. Thus, the Vienna Opera Ball is certainly the most gigantic dance event for professional non-dancers!
Even though you only step on the spot, some of the dance couples try to push themselves towards the TV cameras to be seen.
The national classification and selection of the debutants, by the way, is based on strict criteria: all participants must be passable dancers and undergo a 6-day training ceremony. Most couples (age limit 24 years) represent the “higher daughters and sons” of the Viennese society, another 25% the rest of the Austrian provinces, the other half is coming from all over the world. Among the German participants is also a “von-so-and-so”- a nobility title of course does not harm a positive selection.
At some point, all impressions are merching. A ladies’ band plays in the marble hall, in the basement are a disco and an old traditional “Heurigen”-Pub, elsewhere you may try your luck at roulette or on the wheel of fortune. Meantime the feet are glowing and only a cold mineral water offers some refreshment. No champagne anymore, otherwise the night is over. Due to the mass of visitors the air circulation is quite overwhelmed; only in the winter garden and the piano bar you can cooled down a bit. From time to time you catch amusing phrases of sentences. You rise the glass, say cheers … and move on.
An absolute highlight around midnight is the Quadrille. Four sequences from the operetta “The Bat” serve as a musical template and the “Caller” makes real effort to keep the dancers in line, which fails charmingly every year. There should even be people who have previously hired a private teacher to learn the steps..
Some actually hold off until the official end of the ball at 05.00 o’clock in morning, when the final highlight “the flower battle” takes place.
We are already exhausted at 02.30 clock. If it’s the most beautiful moment, you should leave. All guests who leave the ball receive various sponsored presents such as an opera ball CD, perfumes, a silver memory-coin, casino chips, etc. … and above all a breakfast bag with fresh bread and the legendary liquored donuts of a well-known Viennese bakery.
Conclusion: The Vienna Opera Ball was characterized by a beautiful and surprisingly relaxed atmosphere, without arrogance and gaping. Everyone was cheerful and boisterous without attracting attention. As the saying goes:
Let’s do it again, but then with noble-loop and medal on the throat button.
In 2018 the event takes place on February 8th; ticket-availability ? Ticketing usually starts a year ahead.
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