My second “Song of the Day” stems from nostalgic memories of my time in Europe. After spending a summer with the Lehar Festival in Bad Ischl, Austria, I gained a newfound appreciation for operetta as a genre – particularly for the attitude and energy it takes to make operetta bubble and float. Something I love about this profession is the travel, getting to spend time immersed in different places and cultures. What’s more, I have found that performing works so steeped in national identity – you can’t get more Austrian than a Strauss operetta – pushes my understanding much deeper into the words and music on the page. Austrians are fiercely proud of their musical tradition. Singing Die Fledermaus to audiences for whom operetta is such an integral, beloved part of their history unlocked a kind of artistic experience that is difficult to describe but could definitely be felt.
The second reason for my choice lies in the extensive amount of time I spent visiting and living in Hungary. In Hungary, practically every dish is served with fresh paprika (dried chili) which many people carry around in their pocket wherever they go, just in case their meal isn’t spicy enough. Many Hungarians will say that paprika not only exists in their dishes, but in their blood and spirit, too. Austrian operetta meets the passionate, fiery Hungarian spirit in “Her die Hand, es muss ja sein” from Johann Strauss’s Der Zigeunerbaron, sung in this recording by Hermann Prey.
P.S. I should mention that I’m writing this blogpost from the Johann-Strauss Gasse in Vienna!