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Loney's Show Notes

By Glenn Loney, August 7, 2006

Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney
by Sam Norkin.

Please click on " * " to skip to each subject in this index:

A Week in Another Town:
*
Wiener Mozart-Jahr 2006
Is All Around Vienna!
*
And Where Is Mozart Now?
*
The Why of Mozart-Jahr 2006
*
The Marvelous Multi-Media Mozart-Haus!
*
Mozart at the Haus der Musik:
*
Playing Musical Dice & Other Novelties
*
ZOOM in on Viennaís Museum-Quarter:
*
Making Like Mozart in ZOOM:
*
Childrenís Museum Helps Kids Enter Mozartís World!
*
At the Jewish Museum:
*
The Many Transformations of Lorenzo Da Ponte--
*
From Venice-Ghetto to Vienna to Columbia University!
*
At the Albertina:
*
MOZART/Experiment Aufklärung
*
At the Museum for Austrian Folk-Culture:
*
Papageno Backstage--
*
Perspectives on Birds and Men
*
An Evening at the Wiener KammerOper:
*
Instead of Mozartís Magic Flute, Sarastros Traum von der Zauberflöte--gekürzt!
*
An Evening at the Theater-an-der-Wien:
*
Julian Rachlin, Instead of Don Giovanni
*
An Evening at the Semper-Depot:
*
Klangbogen Wien
Offers--Not Don Giovanni--
*
But
Don Juan Kommt aus dem Krieg
*
The Tiger-Lilies Celebrate the Mozart Year!
*
Other Anniversaries of Cultural Celebrities in 2006:
*

 

A Week in Another Town:

Wiener Mozart-Jahr 2006 Is All Around Vienna!

Everywhere you look--or Listen--in Vienna of Mozart-Year 2006, you are apt to encounter an image of Wolfgang Amadeus, either as a precocious six-year-old Salzburg Wunderkind or as a mature Viennese Genius-Composer.

With the Audio-Installation of CALLING MOZART, you can pick-up-the-phone--so-to-speak--at memorable Mozart-Sites all over Vienna. Your initial introduction to this helpful audio-tour should begin at the Infocenter, next to the Vienna Staatsoper, at Herbert-von-Karajan Platz.

There are some 50 of these Calling Mozart sites, a joint project of ORFís Radio Austria 1 and Wiener Mozart-Jahr 2006. But this is not just a matter of lifting a receiver when you reach one of the distinctive Hörbildern kiosks. Or Information Pillars, as they are called in English.

No indeed! You can call for your site-specific Mozart audio-information at each location by dialing the landline number on your mobile phone: 43-5-1756-0 + extension-number. Each site has an Extension Number, such as #23, which is the site of the Old Burg-Theater, which you will not actually see, as it was torn down long, long ago.

For those who are not so Mozart-Obsessed as to visit all 50 of the sites--which include the work-site of Herr Köchel, who gave Mozartís works those famous KV numbers--there is a 12-site Highlight Tour.

If you donít want to run up charges on your mobile-phone, however, you can rent an audio-guide at the Infocenter. Three Euros for three hours! You can even download all this information free in MP3 file-format: www.callingmozart.at

The sites are organized into six sequential-sections:

1] ARRIVAL: In the Footsteps of the Child-Prodigy.

2] RETURN: The Early Years.

3] FRESH START: Gaining Independence.

4] CULMINATION: The Peak of his Fame.

5] DECLINE: Social Isolation.

6] FINALE: The Last Year--and Beyond.

You may find Street-musicians--dressed like Mozart and his friends--in the midst of A Little Night-Music or a theme from Figaro. But in the heart of Alt Wien, the Amadeus-Look-alikes are more apt to be selling tickets for concerts that very evening--or afternoon--in the Historic Palaces they are standing in front of.

Central Vienna seems composed largely of the Historic Habsburg Hofburg, Historic Churches, Historic Museums, and a number of Handsome Historic Palaces of various Princes, Dukes, Counts, & Nobles of the Royal & Imperial Austro-Hungarian Empire that once was. Especially this summer, each Palace--those that are not already museums or government-offices--seems to have either a concert-series or an exhibition on view. Some have both!

Here are some of the concert-venues on offer currently, during the summer/autumn tourist seasons:

Palais Eschenbach: Mozart & Strauss, played by the Imperial Orchester Wien.

Kursalon Wien: Strauss & Mozart, played by the Salonorchester Alt Wien.

Palais Auersperg: Mozart & Johann Strauss, played by the Wiener Residenzorchester.

Hofburg Festsaal: Johann Strauss & W. A. Mozart, played by the Wiener Hofburg-Orchester.

Musikverein Goldener-Saal: W. A. Mozart & Johann Strauss, played by the Wiener Mozart Orchester.

Schloss Schönbrunn Orangerie: W. A. Mozart & Johann Strauss, played by the Schönbrunner Kammer-ensemble.

There are also open-air Mozart concerts available. The forecourts of the Hofburg are likely spots, and there is a Mozart Oasis in the foyer of the Neuen Burg, Heldenplatz 1.

But Vienna is famed not only for Mozartís music & operas, but also for the waltzes and operettas of the Strausses. So the Schloss-theater in Schloss Schönbrunn is offering Straussís Wiener Blut, or Vienna Blood, during July & August.

Not to be outdone, Theater Akzent, near Schloss Belvedere, mounted its 4th season of the Wiener Operettensommer! This is essentially a stylish operetta-revue, with such All-time Hits as Tales of the Vienna Woods, Two Hearts in 3/4 Time, the Can-Can, and the Tritsch-Tratsch Polka.

Nor should the Waltz-Starved tourist overlook the Original Wiener Walzer Dinner-Show in the Wiener Rathauskeller! Farther out, thereís the Wiener Heurigen Show at Heurigen Wolff, where you can sample new wine and enjoy all the waltzes, polkas, and operetta-arias you can take.

All of Mozartís Sacred Music is being played in more than 30 Viennese Churches during the Mozart Year. Some of the works will be performed as part of the regular liturgies. This program is called Mozart Sakral.

Just because the endless Summer Heat-Waves prevented you from having a Holiday in Europe doesnít mean you have missed Viennaís Mozart-Year. It isnít over--not only "Until the
Fat Lady Sings" at the Vienna State Opera--but until New Year 2007 comes blustering snowily in.

In fact, in November & December of the Official Mozart Year, the notoriously avant-garde American opera-director Peter Sellars will be mounting a series of very special salutes to the year, if not as Mozart-drenched as some of the other events specifically created for this Year of Years.

Titled New Crowned Hope, itís hoped this wide-ranging experiment in varied performance-genres will "reveal unexpected aspects and provide new insights into the phenomenon of Mozart and his works." With Peter Sellars, however, you never know how things will turn outÖ

Even Chick Corea has been commissioned to create a work inspired by the Spirit of Mozart. It is aptly titled Piano Concerto No. 2, and you can find out more about it and Coreaís concert at www.viennajazz.org

With or without Mozart, Vienna during the Christmas/New Yearís Season is a Holiday You Will Never Forget. Your scribe was able to enjoy this season way back in 1972, and its Wonders & Pleasures have remained fresh in memory ever since.

Some of the treats that were arranged for me included Christmas-Eve Midnight-Mass in the Hofburg Chapel with the Vienna Choirboys; the last performance for the season of the Lippizaners in the elegant & historic Spanish Riding-School--just before these wonderful White Horses were taken to their winter-quarters, and New Yearís Mass in St. Stephenís Cathedral, with Cardinal
Wendel passing by and giving me a personal blessing.

Then there were also the glamorous Silvester-Ball in the Hofburg; the famed New Yearís Day Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic--so often hosted on TV by Walter Cronkite, and Die Fledermaus at the Staatsoper, conducted by my old friend, Maestro Julius Rudel--his first time on that celebrated podium, as he and his family had to flee when the Nazis came to power in Germany & Austria.

This Christmas Season, all of these traditional events will again occur, though it would be very difficult to gain admission to some of them if you are just off the planeÖ Nonetheless, there will be so many Mozart Events also on the calendar that all your days and evenings should be wonderfully filled with music, theatre, dance, and Viennese Cuisine!

There are--in addition to the traditional Stadtrundfahrten, or City Tours--special Mozart-themed "re-mapping" Bus-Outings to specific sites. These have to be booked in advance, but there are a number of competing City-Tour bus-lines to choose from on the spot.

Not only is Vienna today a much, much larger city than it was in Mozartís time, but there are also a number of important buildings and Historic Landmarks that did not exist in Mozartís day. This bus-tour Overview is essential to getting the most from a visit to Old Vienna.

And Where Is Mozart Now?

The Why of Mozart-Jahr 2006

Dr. Peter Marboe, the Intendant--or Artistic Director--of Viennaís Mozart Year 2006 says the concept of the entire year of celebrating Mozartís 250th Anniversary could be aptly summarized in this question of an 8-year-old-girl: "Where is Mozart now?"

Instead of Spectacular Productions--although all of Mozartís operas and musical-works are being performed--or Exploitive Promotions, the intent is to explore Mozartís Meanings for us today and in the future.

Thus, this year has been--and continues to be--twelve months of new, and even first, Encounters with Mozart the Man and with his Music. Over fifty artists--in various media--have been commissioned to explore the "Miracle of Mozart" from their own perspectives!

Although Salzburg--where Mozart was born--has also dedicated itself to an entire year of presenting all of Mozartís operas and other works, it is not the city that helped shape the Mature Genius of this former boy-prodigy. That honor belongs to Vienna, which did not always appreciate its brilliant young Master.

Peter Marboe notes, however, that the really young Mozart was often On the Road, traveling to more than 200 European cities to concertize and compose new works. Thus: "Mozart needed Europe, just as Europe--and the entire world--now needs Mozart. We should never cease to ask ourselves why that is so," says Dr. Marboe.

"Mozartís timeless genius can never be completely understood. Far beyond his 250th birthday, Mozart will always be a beginning!"

[For the Record: From 1970 to 1986, Peter Marboe was one of Austriaís most effective representatives in the United States, both as Director of the Austrian Press & Information Service and later as Director of the Austrian Cultural Institute, on East 52nd Street in Manhattan.

[Under his directorship, major exhibitions, lectures, & seminars at the Institute did much to increase understanding of social, cultural, scientific, & political developments in Post-War Austria. Dr. Marboe surely knows the United States better than many of his colleagues.

[And I regard him as my oldest and best friend in Vienna.]

The Marvelous Multi-Media Mozart-Haus!

Unlike Salzburg--which can boast of two Authentic Mozart-Houses--until recently Vienna did not even have one of its own intact. Part of the problem was that Wolfgang & Konstanze Mozart moved a number of times--so which dwelling-site should then be the Definitive Mozart-House?

Also there was the problem that Middle-Class family-apartments from that period were largely reformed and re-decorated in the l9th century. Or entirely destroyed in the 20th!

Disastrous bombing-raids on Vienna in World War II did not improve the Survival-Chances of Late 18th Century Real-Estate. When it became Really Important--with the Wien Mozart Jahr 2006 on the horizon--to have a Mozarthaus Vienna, with the Wien Museum MozartWohnung, the historic residence at Domgasse 9 was the only possibility.

Not only had the Familie Mozart actually lived here for two-and-a-half years--during one of Mozartís most successful periods in Vienna: 1784-1787--but their living-spaces were not destroyed, even if covered with two centuries of layers of paint & dust.

Unlike Viennaís Princes, Dukes, & Counts--who had entire Palaces at their disposal--most Middle-Class families had to be content with a floor of rooms, or even a part of a floor, divided into smaller apartments.

At Domgasse 9--hard by St. Stephanís Cathedral--the Mozarts occupied the first floor, with the apartment-entrance opening out onto a six-story interior-court, with stairs rising inside it. This had survived Time, Bombings, & Development-Schemes!

At that time, Mozart was Flush with Success, so he entertained a lot. The four large rooms, two small ones, and a kitchen made this possible. Some old wall-decorations from the period have even been uncovered in the restoration and transformation of this floor into an important component of Viennaís new Major Mozart Museum.

While there are six levels to the house above-grade, there are two lower levels, one outfitted for concerts, seminars, and special-events.

The Mozart-Adventure begins at the bottom of the interior Treppenhaus, where two screens present an animated vision of Mozartís Arrival in Vienna. One screen is vertical, one horizontal, and the moving-images are a stylized delight.

Then visitors ascend to the third floor where they can experience Vienna in the Era of Mozart, with a fascinating MultiMedia presentation of Mozartís various Residences in Vienna. In another room, they are introduced to personalities in Vienna who were important to Mozart in his career as a composer and in Society.

Yet another room is devoted to Mozartís involvement in Ideals of the Enlightenment and Free-Masonry, with important documents and ritual-objects on loan from the Grand Lodge.

Finally, the visitors enter a chamber highlighting the Personal Mozart, with his love of Gambling, Games, Fine Clothes, Practical-Jokes, and Sexuality. There is even an interesting animation of the Ladies of the Night parading in the Graben, looking for elegant customers. They were called the Graben-Nymphen.

Descending, visitors arrive at the Second Floor to savor Viennaís Music-Life in the Age of the
Enlightenment and to explore the Worlds of Mozartís Operas: Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro, Così fan tutte, & The Magic-Flute.

And then, on the First Floor, the Mozart-Tourist explores the actual family-quarters. But none of the original furnishings have survived, so no attempt has been made at a thorough Historical Reconstruction, though surviving decorations have been exposed. In some areas, 40 layers of paint were stripped away!

Unlike New York City--where developers can evict or dispossess unwanted & rent-controlled tenants--the fortunate residents of the floors above the Museumís third are still in place, with storage-cellars below-grade!

Mozart at the Haus der Musik:

Playing Musical Dice & Other Novelties

Mozart is only one of the Musical Monuments celebrated in the Haus der Musik, but his moment is more a Meal-time than a Minuet. His special show is called Kapaun, Kompott, und Kaisersemel: Kochen und Essen zur Mozartzeit. Or Cooking & Eating in Mozartís Time.

Famine was still common in much of Europe, and taxes and duties were charged on food, especially luxuries, so families like the Mozarts paid attention to what they were eating--and when. The lavish Banquet Tables set at the Courts where the young Mozart and his sister performed were not, however, Their Daily Bread.

This Haus der Musik small-scale exhibition deals with food-customs, as well as recipes and eating. The New Salzburg Cookbook, dating from this era, is on view in the original version.

On the road, Mozartís father, Leopold, wrote back to his daughter in 1784: "What I usually have myself brought at lunch is some soup with bratwurst, as well as cabbage, occasionally some liverwurst, perhaps some lungs or innards or calvesí foot or preserved meatÖ"

Not only are there special Mozart Events at the Haus der Musik, but there is also a Mozart Trail, leading visitors to various Mozart Encounters among the varied exhibitions on view. On the floor devoted to the History of the Vienna Philharmonic, you can hear and see Mozartís music played at the New Yearís Concerts in the in the great hall of the Musikverein.

One of the more interesting exhibits is the Musical-Dice Game. Casting giant red or blue digitally-activated dice, you can see and hear bars of Mozartís music moving across a plasma monitor. Mozart actually used throwing the dice as a kind of Aleatory Composition Aid, long before John Cage had thought of Aleatory Music.

Thereís also a Mozart Lounge for taking "a musical journey to Mozart," as well as Mozartís World in the MultiMedia Exhibition Room, where you can explore some unconventional aspects of Mozartís Life.

At another point, you can not only Re-Mix Mozartís Magic Flute yourself, but you can also make a CD of the results to take home with you. Perhaps best of all, at another point, standing before a huge TV-monitor, you can set the tempos, conducting Eine kleine Nacht Musik, with the full Philharmonic in front of you! You: The Virtual Conductor!

Actually, Mozart is only one of a number of illustrious composers and musicians celebrated in the Haus der Musikís KlangMuseum. But this Museum of Sound is less about personalities than it is about Music & Sound, explored in a variety of Interactive MultiMedia installations.

Some of its State-of-the-Art Digital-Explorations ought to be also on view--and Interactive--in New York, even in major cities across the United States.

Opened in 2000--with Maestro Zubin Mehta as its Honorary President--the museum occupies a former Palais, in which the composer Otto Nicolai--Die lustige Weiber von Windsor--once lived.

The building itself is structured around a glass-roofed courtyard that now forms a six-story atrium--with piano-concerts often on tap, as well as other refreshments in the Café Cantino.

Not to miss the Dancing Vases on the Ground Floor, but do move on to the Premiere Etage, where you can play the Waltzing Dice, see the Vienna Philharmonic in action, savor the Otto Nicolai Room. And, if you are a researcher or Music-Addict, you might spend some time in the Archives of the Wiener Philharmoniker.

The Sonosphere on the Second Floor is an installation that ought to be re-created widely, especially in Culture-Centers in major cities. It is designed as a kind of Post-Modernist Labyrinth, beginning with the Sensory Rush of the Prenatal Listening-Room!

This is followed by the Perception Lab, where you can explore various Phenomena of Sound, followed by the Instrumentarium, where huge instruments represent the four orchestral-groupings.

Then thereís the Sea of Voices, with the human-voice as the "Original Instrument." And, after that experience, the Polyphonium, where you can experience perfect Surround-Sound.

In the Sound Gallery, you hear sounds from the Microcosm, the Human-Body, the Environment, and the Macrocosm! Finally, in the Evolution Machine, you make your own CD.

The Third Floor is devoted to The Great Composers, where you can also experience being a Virtual Conductor, as well as dip into Virtual Vienna.

It should come as no surprise that Claudio Monteverdi, Benjamin Britten, Georg Friderich Händel, Leonard Bernstein, Giuseppi Verdi, & Hietor Villa-Lobos are not to be found on this floor.

No, indeed. And even dear old Brahms doesnít have a Room of His Own. Here are only Viennaís Greats: Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, Strauss, Mahler, & Ludwig van Beethoven--even though he was born in Bonn. One room takes care of the entire Second Vienna School: Berg, Schönberg, Webern & Co.

Kids and Teens can go wild on the Fourth Floor. Here is the Brain Opera and the Future Music Blender--where you can mix your own music, add color-sound-tags, and sit in the Sensor Chair!

And you get to play Hyper-Instruments--computer-controlled--to make yourself part of the Brain Opera.

These remarkable Installations are worth the trip to Vienna in and of themselves! For more Info: www.hdm.at or info@hdm.at

ZOOM in on Viennaís Museum-Quarter:

As if Vienna did not already have a Multiplicity of Museums, Movers & Shakers in Austriaís Capital City took a long look at the vast Baroque tract of the Habsburg Imperial Stables. These stood behind the Huge & Noble Imperial History & Art Museums on the Ringstrasse, across the broad avenue from the Hofburg itself.

With the Triumph of the Automobile--and the de-commissioning of the Royal & Imperial Crown & Throne, in the wake of World War I--there was no more need for so many horse-stalls and chambers for all kinds of coaches and other horse-drawn vehicles. Nor was there a practical use for the vast space enclosed by the great ellipse of the Hofstall, formerly filled with steeds exercising and being put through their paces.

So it was decided that this great complex could become a vast conglomeration of Museums, Performance-Venues, Artist-Studios, Cafés, & Cultural-Offices. There was even talk of a Great Tower that could be seen from far off, a Beacon for the Arts.

The Tower did not make it off the drawing-boards, but the rest of the project has been magnificently realized. In the great central-court, two vast Museum-Cubes have been constructed, one White & one Black, angling out from the central Imperial Entrance. These are the two blocks of two Important Collections. In the white block are the Leopold Museum Collections. In the black block is the Ludwig Museum.

Like the new Ludwig Museum in Budapest--which is integrated with an immense new Concert-Hall--the Leopold & Ludwig Museumís interior spaces are vast, often lofty, and usually of a dazzling white. This means that the remarkable collections of Modern Art of both Peter & Irene Ludwig and Rudolph & Elizabeth Leopold are given visual-breathing-space. [Cologne also has an impressive Ludwig Museum! And they have also given artworks to the German National Museum in Nuremberg!]

Great and even minor works by Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele are not crowded on the walls, but have ample white-space around them, so the eye can focus sharply on the canvases, one-by-one. This was also obviously intended in the new MoMA in Manhattan, but it has not worked out as well as in Vienna and Budapest.

The Leopolds gave their private collection of Modern Masterworks to Vienna, with the museum opening in 2001. The Schiele-Sammlung is the largest in the world. And the Klimt & Wiener Werkstätte holdings make Ronald Lauderís handsome collections in New Yorkís Neue Galerie look like Previews of Coming-Attractions.

It was widely reported here that First-Day visitors to the Neue Galerie who wished to view Klimtís Goldene Adele--for which Lauder had laid out more millions than any previous art-auction-sale--paid $50 for the privilege.

At the same time, leading Viennese cultural-figures were urging the Austrian Nation to purchase at any price the remaining Klimt canvases that had finally been returned to the Bloch-Bauer heirs after years of litigation.

[Artworks that had been seized or sequestered from their rightful owners--mainly, but not entirely, Jewish--by the agents of Hitler & Goering were, as far as possible, returned to the owners or heirs after World War II. Some, however, found their way onto the walls of major museums in Germany & Austria.]

The Leopold Museum--subtitled "Treasures of Austrian Art History"--also mounts major exhibitions on various themes. One of the most impressive current shows--closing on 2 October--is körper>gesicht>seele--Frauenbilder vom 16. bis ins 21. Jahrhundert. These Pictures of Women include works by Albrecht Dürer and Thomas Gainsborough: a remarkable survey of views of women by some of the worldís most celebrated artists! Mrs. Siddons is currently in Vienna, instead of in London on Trafalgar SquareÖ

Nor is the Trendy neglected. There is also--in the black cube--a monster-show of Photography, Film, and Videos, called [in English, not German] Why Pictures Now. Why indeed?

Quite a different kind of Museum-Experience is offered in the MuseumsQuartierWien by ZOOM, the Childrenís Museum. This includes a print-workshop for kids, as well as a shop where they can make their own Trickfilms and 3-D photos.

There are also Sound-Workshops and the ZOOM Ocean, where children can climb up on a Play-Ship, steer, fish, drop anchor, tie nautical-knots, and slide down a spiral. Painting workshops are conducted in association with the Leopold Museum.

Most interesting, however, is ZOOMís Mozart Year installation.

Making Like Mozart in ZOOM:

Childrenís Museum Helps Kids Enter Mozartís World!

This ingenious interactive exhibition is titled Wolfgang Amadé--a Completely Normal Prodigy, or ein ganz normales Wunderkind. It has been designed by the Da Ponte Institute--which also created the Mozart/DaPonte interactive shows in the Jewish Museum and the Albertina--for kids from ages 6 through 12.

Actually, grown-ups--especially parents--can have even more fun than the kids, as they watch the toddlers and the girls & boys put on white-paper Perukes and Tricorne hats of Mozartís time. The kids can try on costumes such as Mozart and his talented sister, Nannerl, would have worn at Court in the Hofburg, where the tiny Mozart sat on the Empress Maria Theresaís lap!

Before the red curtains rise, opening into a Virtual Reality of Mozartís World, children are asked: What was Mozart like as a child? What had he composed when he was only as old as you? What games did he play? Why did he travel around so much? And did you know that he never went to school, but in spite of that, he could speak several languages?

A note for adults explains: The exhibition reveals the "elemental" child behind the often idealized figure of Mozart: the cheeky Wolfgang Amadé, the disciplined piano-playing automaton, the precocious composer and lover of ambiguous wordplay, the well-behaved boy-genius, the dapper little musician of Court society, the self-possessed, provocative young rascal. The differences between the way children were raised in Mozartís time and the present day are illustrated by means of aspects of everyday life: clothing, grooming, hygiene, punishmentÖ

Just inside the proscenium-arch-entrance to this installation is an almost life-sized Vintage Coach, with a series of stationary-bicycles in tandem, in place of the original horses. Mozart & his sister can clamber into the coach, while their friends in front are frantically pedaling, setting the coachís wheels in motion over bumpy rollers, which simulate the bone-rattling experience of traveling from, say, Salzburg to Milan on impossible, and often impassible, roads!

Beyond the coach are mock-ups of a barber-shop, a pharmacy, a kitchen, an inn-accommodation, an elegant boudoir, and a Schreibstube!

And, beyond all these, is a room with computer-terminals where kids and adults can play with Mozartís music and even make some of their own.

All this was conceived by Prof. Herbert Lachmayer and his team at the Da Ponte Institute. He is on the cutting-edge of designing new interactive museum & art-installations, which invite visitors and viewers to get involved with the ideas and materials. Not just look at them on the walls, or in dusty glass-cases.

Even beyond the Mozart Year, this ZOOM installation should prove very popular way beyond Vienna. It could tour major American Art-Museums, Cultural-Centers, & Colleges for many months! How often did young Mozart brush his teeth? That might explain why he was a WunderkindÖ

But what of Mozartís own children? Why do we never hear about them? Were there any--or was he too busy composing?

In fact, Mozart and Konstanze had six children, but only two--the sons Karl Thomas & Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart--survived into maturity. Neither achieved their fatherís eminence, but Franz Xaver became an admired concert-pianist and beloved music-teacher.

At the Jewish Museum:

The Many Transformations of Lorenzo Da Ponte--

From Venice-Ghetto to Vienna to Columbia University!

[Closing 17 September 2006]

Lorenzo Da Ponte: Challenging the New World, at the Jewish Museum, should be of especial interest to American Opera-Lovers and almost anyone who lives in Manhattan.

How many New Yorkers know that Mozartís most gifted librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte, was effectually the first Professor of Italian at what was to become Columbia University?

Indeed, Columbiaís precious portrait of the librettist of Don Giovanni--quite a Don Juan himself--has been loaned to Vienna and the Jewish Museum for this fascinating exhibition, conceived and designed by Prof. Herbert Lachmayer and his team at the Da Ponte Institute.

Born into the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, Emanuel Conigliano might very well have remained there, had not his father married a Christian and converted--along with his sons--to Roman Catholicism. Very soon, the precocious lad became a seminarian and was virtually adopted by the Bishop Lorenzo Da Ponte--who gave him his own name!

The young priest-scholar proved also a Poet--and a Lover. This may seem strange today, but the Abbé Franz Liszt--Richard Wagnerís father-in-law--was also in Holy Orders, even while he enjoyed the favors of Lola Montez and the Countess díAgoult.

Banned from Venice, Da Ponte moved to Vienna where he soon became Poet at the Court Theatre. And a friend of Salieri and Casanova, as well as Mozartís most gifted librettist.

Ever a wanderer, Da Ponte then tried Trieste, then London, and finally New York City, where he was a grocer, a book-dealer, and a professor of Italian. He even got to hear his own work on a New York opera-stage, when Manuel Garcia brought his company from Europe, including his talented daughters, later known to Opera-History as Maria Malibran & Pauline Giardot.

MOZART IN MANHATTAN! [Doesnít that sound like a winning-title for a new exhibition? Possibly mounted in New York by the Da Ponte Institute? Some years ago, your scribe produced Figaro Comes To Flatbush at Brooklyn College!]

Da Ponte died in New York in 1838, poor but not exactly unknown. Clement Moore--the Episcopal cleric who wrote The Night Before Christmas--befriended him and urged him to write his Memoirs. They ran to five volumes!

The installation at Viennaís Jewish Museum covers all this territory and more. It throws a spotlight on the Virtual Aryan Deification of Mozart by the Nazis and the concealment of Da Ponteís Jewish origins. It also focuses on great Mozart conductors who were forced to flee to America, owing to the Nazi Race-Laws.

What it does not do is try to imagine Da Ponte in Santa Fé, New Mexico. This was the idiotic idea of Austriaís Leading Male Playwright, Peter Turrini.

His ill-advised low-comedy, Da Ponte in Santa Fe was premiered at the Salzburg Festival several seasons ago. Somehow, it has not, since then, managed to storm the stages of the Worldís Theatres. Not even in Santa Fé, which does have an International Opera Festival!

At the Albertina:

MOZART/Experiment Aufklärung

[Closing 20 September 2006]

This dazzling, dashing, digitally-innovative, many-faceted Celebration of Mozart and the Age of the Enlightenment must close in the near future. But it would be wonderful if it could be--in its Entirety, or even in several of its stunning sections--recreated beyond Vienna.

The Metropolitan Museum, the British Museum, the Louvre, and San Franciscoís Palace of the Legion of Honor spring immediately to mind. But there is a small problem about transporting all this wide-ranging exhibitionís often-priceless artifacts outside Austria.

The in-house loans from the Albertinaís fabled collections--amassed by Duke Albert of Sachsen-Teschen--are probably far too precious and fragile to travel widely. Other antique artifacts and valuable documents, letters, & manuscripts shouldnít be away from their Archives for the three or four years this marvelous exhibition ought to be On the International Road.

Fortunately, as conceived and developed by Prof. Dr. Herbert Lachmayer--Chief of the Da Ponte Institute, just across the Strasse from the Albertina--so much of this extensive show is Digital & MultiMedia that it can still have tremendous Visual, Emotional, Intellectual, & Sensual Impact without all the letters, medallions, & miniatures in its Post-Modernist Surrealist-Rococo Glassed-Cases--which angle crazily, standing on red-rococo-legs.

The Vienna of Mozartís Period, Prof. Lachmayer emphasizes, was a time when old ideas and customs were breaking down, being replaced by the Enlightenment and the new Spirit of Free Enquiry it sparked in both Nobles and Artists. It was also a time of a certain Decadence, Politically & Socially--a situation that was to be repeated a century later. Not to say two centuries later, as wellÖ

Thus, both Mozart and his famed librettist, Lorenzo Da Ponte, could hold their own among men of far more power, influence, money, and social-station.

One of the most enabling entities of these social-integrations was the Free Masonic Brotherhood, in which all members stood and interacted as Equals. Today--with the Catholic Church still opposed to its Communicants joining Masonic Lodges--it may seem incredible that Viennaís leading Catholic Nobles were lodge-members, along with Mozart.

But the Old Order--near the turn of the 18th century--seemed to be crumbling, in the face of the new interest in Science, Experiment, & Exploration. In 1776, the American Colonials had dared to declare their Independence from the Mad British King. And the French Revolution was Waiting in the Wings.

Out of such Political & Social Decadence, Prof. Lachmayer theorizes, often comes a New Birth in the Arts & Sciences. This also happened in Vienna at the turn of the 19th century, with the Habsburg Monarchy in decay, and the rise of new artists, poets, architects, and scientists.

Indeed, with the emergence of the Secessionist Movement, Jugendstil, the Wiener Werkstätte, the Couch-analyses of Dr. Freud, the Soul-Searching of Dr. Jung--beyond Vienna, the plays of Dr. Arthur Schnitzler, and the artistry of such talents as Otto Wagner, Kolo Moser, Gustav Klimt, & Egon Schiele, a new era in the arts was born. Just as the Old Order was dying, finally extinguished in the Great War, after which most Central European Crowns & Thrones were Terminated.

A similar situation in Art & Society can be seen today, Prof. Lachmayer insists. The Old Order--at least in the West--is no longer able to meet the Challenges of Changing Times.

So itís no surprise to find gowns by John Galliano--suggesting Mozartís Queen of the Night in Fashionista-Disguise--in this surprising show of Mozart and His Continuing Influence on our lives.

Indeed, the Relevance of the Rococo is highlighted in the exhibitionís case-designs, in the display of Wiener Werkstätte furniture by Dagobert Peche, and contemporary High Fashion.

Not only those Salutes to the Rococo World of Wolfgang Amadeus are on view. All three levels of this exhibition are unified with a seemingly-endless carpet, designed by Franz West. It incorporates Rococo scrollings with Quinces, a bitter fruit much loved by Mozart.

And the vast entrance-atrium of the Albertina is dominated by an immense clear-plastic hot-air-balloon sculpture by Klaus Pinter. Itís surrounded with golden rococo design-elements.

The Brothers Montgolfier would never have got this one off the ground, but it flies very nicely in the Albertina. Pinter calls it Die Eroberung der Luft--or The Conquest of the Air. And why notÖ

Thereís even a Scientific Wunderkammer--featuring Objects of Curiosity in Mozartís time--with a Electrostatic-Machine, Autopsied-Carcass-Models, a Whatnot, and even what looks like a model of the Globe Theatre.

Treasures from the Grand Lodge explore Free Masonry in the Vienna of Mozartís day. As well as important documents, scenic-designs, music-autographs, and printed-scores that survey the opera-life of the Imperial City.

Among the most impressive installations of Experiment Aufklärung, however, are an imaginative and strangely-soothing animation on a wide-screen of the Masonic Gardens at Schönau. But even more intriguing is an audio-visual exploration of the real meanings of Mozartís Zauberflöte.

This is shown on three adjoining screens, along a wall in a narrow corridor, with seating on what could be a plastic rock-ledge. Images of 18th century visions of Masonic Lore & Ritual--which of course lurk everywhere in the opera--are intermingled with imagined views of Ancient Egypt and varied Pharaonic Ruins.

Some of these look like images from that great volume of Egyptian Antiquities, commissioned by Napoleon, on the occasion of his ill-fated attempt to Conquer the Middle-East. But there are also the fantastic Carceri--imagined by Piranesi--and other Iconic-Engravings of the Era.

One of my favorite Digital-Surprises is a plastic-sheet of Mozartís music. You rub your thumb along a bar of music: And It Actually Plays As You Rub! You can even play bar-after-bar backwards, moving your thumb in the opposite direction!

Closing on 20 September? No, indeed! This exhibition cannot be simply disbanded and consigned to the Memories of the Catalogue. Some of its elements can certainly travel--and they should.

Not only that: many of the innovative design-ideas and digital-technology developed for Experiment Aufklärung can be adapted and improved for future exhibitions on a wide variety of topics.

For more information, both about the current show and about possible future developments of exhibition-ideas and technologies, contact the Da Ponte Institute: marlene.ropac@daponte.at

At the Museum for Austrian Folk-Culture:

Papageno Backstage--

Perspectives on Birds and Men

[Closes 29 October 2006]

Mozartís Papageno--the curious Bird/Man who accompanies Prince Tamino on his picaresque adventures in The Magic Flute--has been the inspiration for a most unusual exhibition that could prove a crowd-pleaser at the American Museum of Natural History--as well as in Vienna during Mozart Year 2006!

Actually, the character of Papageno was the creation, not of Mozart, but of his Zauberflöte librettist, Emanuel Schikaneder, a popular Viennese comic and folk-artist. As some scholars have noted--and some audiences have pondered--this low-comedy role was tailored to Schikanederís talents as a performer who could sing, dance, clown, and provide distinctive Shtick for his public.

In an ingenious Image & Music Digest-Version of The Magic Flute, in the Albertinaís Mozart Exhibition, it is demonstrated that the opera exists on Two Levels. Papageno wasnít just stuck in to give Schikaneder a role to please his raffish public.

On the highest level, the Ideals of the Enlightenment are celebrated--with Prince Tamino & Princess Pamina passing the Tests of Fire & Water to enter Sarastroís Sacred Community of the Enlightened. This higher level of adventure and achievement was probably devised for the interest and consideration of the Viennese Free Masons who were Mozartís Lodge-Brothers and for others of the Enlightened Elite.

But the essential Fairytale of Papageno and his Papagena were integrated into this Magical-Ritual for the entertainment and enjoyment of the largely uneducated Popular Audience of Vienna, who were enchanted by all the magic, dances, and clowning.

Bird-Sellers were not so unusual in Vienna--or indeed in many cities of Europe--in Mozartís time. In fact, in the Austrian Tyrol, the bird-catchers and bird-sellers of Imst had a virtual monopoly, traveling all over Europe with cages filled with song-birds. Some towns even had a Vogel-markt, or Bird-Market.

The Mozart Family also had birds as home-pets, and the young Wolfgang even mentions a favorite bird in a letter home.

Because Mozartís Papageno has been depicted as a man sprouting feathers all over his body--some original costume-designs and actual costumes are in this exhibition--he is usually seen as half-man, half-bird. And he longs for a Bird-Girl to be his loving wifeÖ

In some later productions of the opera, however, Papageno merely seems to be dressed in the feathers of his trade, rather than being some kind of Genetic-Prodigy.

The fabulous bird-cage bicycle Bird-Mobile that designer Achim Freyer created for a Salzburg Festival Zauberflöte is on view, as are a number of costume-designs used over the many decades since the opera premiered in Vienna in 1791.

There are antique bird-cages of remarkable design on display: some like small Palaces or even Prisons. How about a Singing-Bird Automaton? There are also all sorts of bird & bird-cage souvenirs from past to present.

The origins of Bird-Catching and Bird-Selling in Europe are interestingly explored in this show. It is also noted that Zauberflöte is not the only work of Music-Theatre to feature a Bird-Seller. Carl Millöckerís Der Vogelhandler is also well-beloved in Central Europe.

An Evening at the Wiener KammerOper:

Instead of Mozartís Magic Flute,
Sarastros Traum von der Zauberflöte--gekürzt!

This charming and intelligent chamber-opera is not exactly Mozartís Magic Flute, but not a note of it is not Mozartís. Musical Elements have been re-arranged, and, in some cases, edited. And it is, after all, titled Sarastroís Dream of the Magic Flute, not Mozartís Vision.

The story it relates is rather different from the traditional opera, being partly based on Emanuel Schikanederís original libretto. In the Digest Version, Sarastro and the Queen of the Night seem to be a married-couple and fond of each other.

But he goes off into the Mysterious Beyond and she will not follow him there. Thus begins the conflict between the Powers of the Night and those of the Light. Fortunately, in the end, all the couples are re-united: Tamino & Pamina, Papageno & Papagena, Sarastro & the Königin!

Holger Bleck had the Idée for this version, but many Mozart admirers have wondered before whether Sarastro and the Queen were indeed once Man & WifeÖ Divided by strife over the Darkness of Superstition and the Light of the Enlightenment.

Gabriel Baryilli made the text-arrangements, with the Mozart musical-instrumentation by Wolfgang Liebhart. This is ingeniously accomplished--and it cuts hours off the performance-timeÖ

The entire production was performed in a Peter Brook-like White-Box. A not-quite-Empty-Space, as there was a kind of rock to one side. Simple costumes of white and light blue could have been summer pajamas or Hindu garb.

The admirable cast included Claudia Emà Camie, as the Queen--better in her second aria than the first; Arno Weinlander, as a kindly Sarastro; Thomas Tischler, as a troubled Tamino, Judith Halász, as a panicked Pamina, Bryan Rothfuss, as a playful Papageno, and Berit Barfred-Jensen, as a charming Papagena.

Gabriel Baryilli staged simply, with Daniel Hoyem-Cavazza conducting liltingly. This is a production that should be more widely seen. And the work itself, in other stagings, will certainly find many small ensembles who will have successes with its many charms and deeper intimations.

Some other proposed KammerOper productions can give an idea of the adventurousness of its programs. How about Ray Leslie & Philip S. Goodmanís A Good Man? Or Handelís Agrippina?

Or Nino Rotaís I due timidi, with libretto by Suso Cechi DíAmico? Not to overlook Eight Songs for a Mad King, with score by Peter Maxwell Davies and text by Randolph Stow and the subject himself: King George III!

Then thereís Jonathan Doveís opera-for-television, When She Died: Events following the death of DianaÖ

KammerOper Season Motto: Itís like kissing a frog and getting a dogÖ

An Evening at the Theater-an-der-Wien:

Julian Rachlin, Instead of Don Giovanni

Recently, Viennaís historic Theater-an-der-Wien was raised to the exalted level of the Third of Viennaís Operas. The others are, of course, the Staatsoper and the Volksoper. This meant that such Musical-Theatre fare as Freudiana and Elizabeth would no longer appear on the stage that supported the world-premiere of Beethovenís Fidelio.

Appropriately, in this Mozart Year, the theatre has been producing a number of Mozartís operas, as are the other two opera-houses, in order to have the Entire Canon on view during the year.

Keith Warnerís innovative staging of Don Giovanni at the Theater-an-der-Wien had been on your scribeís proposed program, but, at the last minute, a schedule-change had the production in Budapest at the time I was in Vienna. It would be back in Vienna when I was in Budapest.

[Or did they say Bucharest? Both Bucharest and Warsaw were included in Viennaís round of Mozart productions, partly because--although he concertized in over 200 European cities--Mozart never played in Poland or Rumania!]

I was sorry to miss this Giovanni--not only because I had much admired Warnerís Lohengrin at Bayreuth--but also because local reviews suggested it was a very modern vision of this old, old tale of the Seducer Punished.

Apparently, Don Giovanni was now operating some kind of Luxury Hotel, with Leporello as his Concierge! And why not? This updating worked very well at the Old Vic some years ago, with Glenda Jackson in The White Devil. All kinds of awful things can go on in a trendy No-Questions-Asked hotel!

Fortunately, the opera-evening in question at the theatre was wonderfully replaced with the brilliant violinist, Julian Rachlin, supported by the Vienna Virtuosi, a small chamber-group.

Born in Lithuania in 1974, Rachlin emigrated with his parents to Austria in 1978, where he began violin studies with Boris Kuschnir at the Vienna Conservatory. He also took private lessons with Pinchas Zukerman.

After winning the "Young Musician of the Year" Award in 1988--at the Eurovision Competition in Amsterdamís Concertgebouw--Rachlinís career took-off. He has since played with most major symphonies, conductors, and instrumentalists. And he is now on the faculty of Vienna Conservatory as well.

The program consisted of Mozartís violin concertos Nr. 1, in B-major, KV 207: Nr. 2, in D-major, KV 211, and Nr. 3, in A-major, KV 219. Each was superbly played, Rachlin responding with his whole body to the changing moods of the movements.

That the sounds were so liquid, moving, and soaring is not only a tribute to his immense artistry, but also to the fact that he was playing on a Guarnerius, the 1741 ex Carrodus made by Guarnerius del Gesù, loaned to him by the Austrian National Bank.

An Evening at the Semper-Depot:

Klangbogen Wien Offers--Not Don Giovanni--

But Don Juan Kommt aus dem Krieg

Erik Høsgaardís Don Juan Comes Back from War is a disturbing chamber-opera--in an ingeniously Minimalist production--that would make a very attractive addition to the Lincoln Center Series of New Music adventures.

Staged in the cavernous six-balconied Semper Depot--with its great Victorian cast-iron columns thrusting upward--the opera unfolded on and around a series of tan-covered uneven cubic-forms, with a central scaffolding rising to the atrium-ceiling, supporting a sack of sand, that eventually ran out, just as Don Juanís Luck & Life did.

The Don Juan Legend is very old, even older than Tirso de Molinaís early Spanish drama. And it has been retold many times, not only in drama and music-theatre, but also in dance and music-suites.

Erik Høsgaard has based his Neufassung on the Satiric Nihilistic Black Comedy of Ödön von Horváth, whose drama bears the same name. Indeed, the opera seems essentially to be Von Horváthís text, sung powerfully by one intense male voice and a bevy of thrilling female voices.

The Vienna Klangbogen production was the World Premiere of the Neufassung, but I have no idea what the Altfassung may have sounded like. If, indeed, there was a predecessorÖ

Von Horváth is best-known abroad for his Tales of the Vienna Woods, but most of his dramas have a sharp-edged Central European Between-the-Wars bitterness that does not translate well to American stages. Casimir und Carolina, for example, suggests the Munich soil from which Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers Party sprouted.

Don Juan shares in the fatalism and hopelessness of other Von Horváth works. And his Don Juan is rather more modern than that of either Beaumarchais or Da Ponte.

The War Is Over--it could well be World War I, or even World War II, as it seems in this production--and Don Juan is working his way back from the front. Through, with, and around a variety of women.

Some remind him of Past Loves. He reminds them of lovers and husbands lost in the war. Their encounters are cynical and brief.

He meets various women in a theatre at the Front, in the street, in a café, in a hospital, and even in an opera-loge. At one point, heís seeing a scene from a Mozart opera with a lady-friend. The actual melody of Ci darem la Mano illuminates Høsgaardís score for a brief moment.

From the front, Don Juan has been writing letters to the girl he seduced and abandoned. He is coming back. But he has never had an answer. What he does not know is that she has died, and her bitter aged grandmother has saved all the letters, hoping for revenge.

When he does appear on the scene, his dead loveís younger sister accuses him of rape.

At last, he freezes to death on the grave of the woman he wrongedÖ

Christian Miedl was excellent as Don Juan--an actor of many moods and a singer of subtle emphases. The rest of the cast, playing men and women variously, were also of the highest caliber. Splendid thrilling voices and agile acting of a range of types.

They included Rebecca Nelsen, Petra Simkova, Ulla Pilz, Özlem Özkan, Tamara Gallo, Elvira Soukop, Gisela Thiesen, & Anna Clare Hauf as the bitter old Grandmother.

Walter Kobéra conducted, but the orchestral-score did not really accompany the vocal-score. Rather, it seemed to provide a Minimalist Webern Hoot & Tinkel Counter-Sound. Frankly, the work would have been much more impressive with only the unaccompanied voices.

Nonetheless, this production and this cast should be more widely seen & heard!

Figaro Gets a Divorce is another Von Horváth satire that could pair well with Don JuanÖ

The Tiger-Lilies Celebrate the Mozart Year!

One of the biggest hits the New Victory on New 42nd Street has ever had was Shock-Headed Peter, created by the geniuses of the Tiger-Lillies. This bizarre show went on world-tour, played the Piccadilly in Londonís West End, and returned to 42nd Street at the Little Shubert.

Now the Tiger-Lilies have honed-in on Mozartís Troubles with Women, in Die Weberischen. The women in question are Mozartís mother-in-law, Frau Weber, the daughter he really loved, the Weber he actually married--Konstanze, and the rest of the brood.

That Mother Weber and Konstanze are buried in Salzburgís Sankt Sebastian Cemetery and Mozart, in Viennaís St. Marx Cemetery may have no bearing on the plot of Felix Mitterer and no influence at all on the music of Martyn Jacques.

Described as a Black-Humored Satiric Music-Theatre Work, The Weber Women wonít premiere until 28 August. Too late for a reportÖ

The poster for Die Weberischen uses an hilarious engraving by the late M. M. Prechtl, showing the young Mozart in leather-breeches, playing a flute and dancing in the air for Frau Weber and her three saucy daughters. A nude Cupid is aiming an arrow at Mozartís Arsche.

[Incidental Intelligence: Your scribe was a longtime friend of Prechtl--who did that wonderful Beethoven poster for Schirmerís and two covers for Opera News: Wagner & Alban Berg. Indeed, yours-truly may well have the largest collection of Prechtl prints and posters in the United States.]

Other Anniversaries of Cultural Celebrities in 2006:

Sigmund Freud--like Mozart, another genius who contributed so much to Vienna and to the World--would be celebrating his 150th Birthday this year in the Habsburg Capital, had he lived on and on.

Wherever his Spirit/Soul now may be--Rest! Perturbèd Spirit!--it surely must be aware of how well his Students, Acolytes, Disciples, and those dedicated & thoroughly-psychoanalyzed Freudian Patients have honored and preserved his Legacy. As well as his quarters at Berggasse 19 in Vienna.

In fact, some of the historic rooms have been restored and outfitted with Freudís original furnishings. You can see the Famous Couch, of course, but also some of the Greek & Roman antiquities Freud so cherished.

Open since 1971, this Living & Working-Complex has been developed into an impressive--if small-scale--Museum of the History of Freudian Psychoanalysis and the Masterís various Theories, such as the Interpretation of Dreams and Infant Sexuality--which was to subject him so much angry criticism from colleagues.

Imperial Vienna--whose complex Social, Sexual, & Political Tensions & Intrigues inspired him to put its troubled citizens on his Couch in 1891--grudgingly made a place for Dr. Freud.

Sadly, he was not able to enjoy his final birthday in Vienna, because of the murderous Anti-Semitic Racial Policies of the Nazis, who "annexed" Austria in 1938.

Sigmund Freud died--of throat-cancer--in London Exile. Some seasons ago, Vienna celebrated Freud in a remarkable musical called Freudiana. It opened with a visit of tourists to his London Offices, recalling his brilliant career and the Medical Revolution he launched in treating Mental Problems.

Perhaps itís time for Freudiana to make its bow on Broadway? It was ingeniously designed by Hans Schavernoch, using multi-media techniques that were cutting-edge at the time. This terrific show--mounted at Theater an der Wien--was soon followed by the even-more-stunning musical Elizabeth--focusing on "Sisi," the murdered Austro-Hungarian Empress--also designed by Schavernoch. In musically-lean Broadway seasons, it might be time for some Central European Imports?

Béla Bartók--the much-admired Hungarian composer--would be 125 years old this year. This is of course not a Viennese Anniversary, but Bártókís home-base, Budapest, is only a short train or Danube-steamer-ride away.

The Anniversary is being saluted with a major exhibition: BÁRTÓKíS ORBIT. This will be on view until the end of October in the new Museum of Music History, installed in the renovated Erdödy-Hatvany Palace. Like so many of the noble Palaces and handsome Art Nouveau blocks in Budapest, under Communist Rule, these Landmarks were allowed to deteriorate outside and in.

 

Copyright Glenn Loney, 2006. No re-publication or broadcast use without proper credit of authorship. Suggested credit line: "Glenn Loney, New York Theatre Wire." Reproduction rights please contact: jslaff@nytheatre-wire.com.

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