Instructions for your visit to the Wiener Staatsoper:
1. the stage door "entrance" on Von-Karajan-Platz is locked most of the time. If you try and use it on Sunday after the children's matinee, try also to remember that it's locked before you let the door behind you (also locked) close. If you do end up trapped in the small airless space in between the two doors, pound on the sturdy glass and rattle the inner door without fear. The alarm won't go off, and there's someone in the Garderobe who will hear you after a bit.
2. Remember that the matinee is based on a well-known and -beloved Austrian children's book. The following will therefore only be shocking to you, and not others:
- the mother of one of the characters has cancer
-the servants (one evil, one heroic) are completely dispensable and simply disappear at the end
-the opera has a message about sharing, but the whole cast ends by singing a song about one of the kids' games, which is about discovering America, in which they get in a conga line and do an Indian "whoop-whoop-whoop" war cry complete with hand gestures, and stick feathers in their wigs. They opine that "we" should all share just like "the Indians" "shared" the potato with "us". Resist the urge to tell anybody about how well that actually worked out.
3. After lunch with the unbelievably cool friends-of-friends that you only know from Facebook, as you are praising the modern age in your head while walking down the gorgeous streets, avoid having too crazy a comedown when you go to the beautifully cast Wagner opera with the laughable production and screamingly bad conductor. Resist making jokes about the conductor although he looks exactly like Brahms and takes longer to walk to the podium than Brahms would if he was raised from the dead this very day and yes that would include the short stroll from his grave to the Staatsoper. For he will surprise you with his fleet, no, SPEEDY conducting of all orchestral music from this piece. If the fast pace of the grail theme is distressing, wait for the singers to come in, when everything from the pit will become slow and late. Regulate your breathing and sense of place in the world by watching the concertmaster fix this situation 75% of the time, occasionally fail, temporarily cease trying out of pique, then begin trying again due to the greatness of the music. When the poison yellow bunny statue appears, remember that custom demands you wait for the supers dressed as huge white gryphons and owls with neon tulips to come out during Elsa's procession to the cathedral before pleading jet lag and going home.
4. No fewer than three Viennese women will reprimand you for draping your leg over the side of the easy chair as you type this blog entry in the lobby. This is normal, and you have to admit that es geht nicht.