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New Year’s Day Concert 2014 //

 

Richard Strauss: “Schlagobers” op. 70 Cheerful Viennese ballet in two acts
Waltzes and other works by the Strauss family

 

The Strauss commemorative year gets off to a creamy start! The Staatskapelle Weimar congratulates its former Kapellmeister on his 150th anniversary with the performance of »Schlagobers« (Whipped Cream), a ballet score that first premiered at the Vienna State Opera House just before Strauss’ 60th birthday in 1924.

Strauss composed this both brilliant and witty dance round as gift to the city of Vienna – and what’s more fitting than a coffee house as the backdrop? There, several children indulge in so much marzipan, pralines and plum-boys that one of them begins to hallucinate; the sweets come to life before his eyes. Suddenly, Princess Tea Blossom dances with Prince Coffee, Cocoa the Dutchman is courted by Don Zucchero, and when the Confectioner reveals that he’s a cunning cream-whipper, it’s a recipe for disaster! Following a waltz finale, Princess Pralinée enters in a splendid float accompanied by a ballet of party crackers and the dance of the liqueurs. And this is where it gets political! Originally, the French girl Marianne was supposed to climb out of a champagne bottle and join a certain Michel Schnapps on the dance floor for a conciliatory dance.

The fact is that the entire piece is one joyful apotheosis of Viennese warmth and hospitality, a ballet for the feet more than the mind. The music just sparkles with artistic gems – exotically spiced dances dressed in orchestral brilliance fade into folkloric miniatures, followed by playful references to „Tristan" (when the boy doubles over with a stomach ache), and naturally, waltzes, waltzes and waltzes! A case of Straussian debauchery? We know that the Viennese audience and press had problems stomaching such depictions of "gluttony" in those times of hyperinflation. But Strauss admitted that he could scarcely bear the tragedy of the present, saying »My music should make people happy!« And what better place for that than on stage during the holidays!