By Rory Winston
From clouds of confetti to bottles of bubbly, New Year’s Eve has always been less about celebrating that which is about to come than that which has long since passed. Our revelries smack of nostalgia – a nostalgia that is littered with the memory of unlived moments, moments that exist solely within the pomp and pageantry of imagined lives belonging to another era. When it comes to Fin de siècle escapism, Attila Glatz’s Salute to Vienna is the time machine of choice. The annual potpourri of Operetta, Waltz, and courtly ballet is ‘Silvester Schmaltz’ at its best.
No sooner does the Austro-Hungarian Empire roll into town than it becomes clear that Johan Strauss Jr. is alive and well and living in Avery Fisher Hall. Keeping the monarchy’s favorite son company are his Hungarian counterparts, Franz Lehár and Emmerich kalman. Court intrigue begins: with adulterers masquerading as prisoners, and cuckolds waltzing their way into a stupor, Die Fledermaus is a romantic take on our own more squalid but equally licentious nights of carousing. Likewise, the infamous fan with a moniker from the Merry Widow fans the flames of our own imaginations till we are ready to believe that somewhere amidst our own drunken coterie there is a Cinderella whose stiletto heels match the imprints on our backs.
Climbing aloft a 75 piece orchestra, Finnish-born Swedish conductor Mika Eichenholtz sails the Danube of reverie from Vienna to Budapest with Austrian tenor Michael Heim and Hungarian Soprano Mónika Fischl as his guides. With dancers from the Ukraine’s Aniko Ballet, it is evident that the show commands a retinue on par with what might have been envisioned by Emperor Franz Josef prior to the outbreak of WW1. Quintessential kitsch…? No doubt. But as the saying goes: “In one year out the other”… and we are no worse for the wear. Salute to Vienna is our very own Danube on the Hudson. I can think of no better way to celebrate that grand institution, the good old New Year.