Review: ‘Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert’ at Strathmore

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Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert, conducted by Maestro Bernhard Schneider and featuring the vocal talents of German tenor Tilmann Unger and soprano Micaëla Oeste, waltzed in to The Music Center at Strathmore with a grand flourish of song and dance. The Strauss Symphony of America provided the accompaniment, while the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine and the International Champion Ballroom Dancers provided the visual entertainment as they glided across the stage during the various waltzes and polkas.

The music begins with the bombastic “Väterlandischer March” by Johann and Josef Strauss. Conductor Bernhard Schneider uses his considerable charm to create a dialogue with the audience between each piece. We see our first dancers during the “Morgenblätter Waltzes” which follow. Each woman comes out in a dress of flowing tulle and glittering crystals and waltzes, first alone, then with a partner.

Annual Salute to Vienna conert at David Geffen Hall, January 2017. Photo by Chris Lee

Michaëla Oestre’s soprano is then lent to “Heia in den Bergen” from the Emmerich Kálmán operetta Gypsy Princess. Oestre’s airy and clear voice is appropriate for the style of music and she was especially suited to the second act’s “Mein Lippen, sie küssen so heiss” from the Franz Lehár operetta Giuditta.

I found tenor Tilmann Unger to be a real highlight of this concert. His version of “Gern hab’ ich die Frau’n geküsst” from Franz Lehár’s Paganini is one of the best I have ever heard. Due to their skill, Oestre and Tilmann’s duets are near-perfect. “Lippen schweigen” from Merry Widow really stands out among their numbers.

Annual Salute to Vienna conert at David Geffen Hall, January 2017. Photo by Chris Lee

Costumes for the Kiev-Aniko Ballet of Ukraine were created by their Choreographer Aniko Rekhviasvili. The costumes for the International Champion Ballroom Dancers were created by Silvia Szatmári-Nagy. It was somewhat difficult to tell whether we were seeing the ballet or the ballroom dancers, but many of the costumes were over-the-top and perfectly complimented the grand atmosphere of the concert. One woman’s hot pink dress had black flowers, black feathers, and sparkles. Even lederhosen make an appearance.

Violinist Michael Ludwig provides us a soaring solo while Tilmann Unger sings “Komm, Zigány” from Countess Maritza. The audience couldn’t help but cheer “bravo” after many of the performances. The glamour of the Viennese New Year’s concerts was not lost on any of these performances. There was a little bit of something for everyone.

The Strauss Symphony of America is also to be commended. There was not a weak section in the orchestra and the Strathmore provided a perfect venue for them to shine. The dancers were very obviously skilled professionals and contributed positively to the overall spectacle.

Salute to Vienna 2016 at David Geffen Hall, January 2016. Photo by Chris Lee

For those who are looking for something a little different, or are fans of operetta or ballroom dancing, Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert is a perfect complement to the holiday season. With glamorous ballgowns swishing and a grand waltz playing, you are sure to be transported to Vienna in its heyday. This concert is an absolute delight.

Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, including one intermission.

Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert took place on December 30, 2017 at The Music Center at Strathmore— 5301 Tuckerman Ln, North Bethesda, MD 20852. Information about future concerts can be found online.