Vienna’s Open Air CinemaEUROPE, GUEST BLOGGERS, MUSIC, SHOWS/FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS, STREET LIFE — By Tatiana Lensky on September 1, 2009 at 19:27
Story by guest blogger Tatiana Lensky. Photos Copyright © Tatiana Lensky.IT’S LATE AUGUST and a sweltering hot, late afternoon in Vienna. Austria. You know, Sound of Music, Mozart and such . . . that’s where I’m currently living. And, yes, summer days here can remind one of a Chicago swelter.
Gradually cooling, the steady progression of twilight soothes the steamy heated tempers of irate drivers, panting pooches, brave tourists and other city dwellers.
I am waiting for the tram to take me around the “Ring” to the Rathausplatz or City Hall Square. The Ring is a boulevard lined with trees, parks and palatial buildings circling the historic inner city.
A spot of shade under the art deco arcade of the Bristol hotel beckons. The cool relief lets me concentrate better on the goings on around me. I observe the still-hectic pace as the working day eases into evening. An open deck double-decker bus, fire engine red and filled with tourists, approaches the Opera House across the street. The roasted tourists wearily descend . . . well, some actually tumble and head straight for the fountain splashing jovialy nearby.
I admire summer city tourists. When it’s 35° C outside, it takes a special brand of curiousity mixed with mega endurance to conquer museums, castles, gardens, historic walks and souvenir shopping.
A Mozart melody drifts up from the underground passage. Practical but nonetheless cultural: a musical lavatory, WC or restroom, as we call it. For about one dollar, you can do your business and wash your hands to the tune of “A Little Night Music.” I never tried it.
So, where was I? Oh, yes, on my way to the Rathausplatz.
Every July and August, the Open Air Cinema is a staple of the Vienna Festival weeks; a riotous, bohemian compilation of cultural events throughout the entire city. Neo-Gothic style City Hall (think Disney Castle and medieval fortress with flowers on the balconies) is the backdrop for screened performances of opera, ballet and classical concerts. Admission free.
I get there a couple hours ahead of time. Winding down under the cuculoris* of speckled light and shade.
Majestically lodged in a seemingly endless succession of all these architectural megaliths, City Hall is perched between the University of Vienna on one end and Parliament on the south end.
The symmetry of the—at first glance—quite foreboding building and sumptuous grounds reminds me of a tall, spine-of-steel baroque lady with a corset and ridiculously wide, overly-embellished brocade skirt.
Fortunately, there is nothing over-decorated about the gardens. The redeeming attraction for me. A light touch of tended garden; a larger dose of fairy tale forest. The dichotomy of the Austrian mentality somehow reflected in their parks. Austere with casual. Outwardly formal, look a bit closer and you’ll find a charming untidiness.
Trees of all shapes and sizes, bushes, hedges, flowers offer a lavishly cool, shaded oasis. Wild roses encircle some of the lamp posts. The heavy, sweet smell engulfs me in a cloud of scent as I stroll by; oblivious and shielded from the blaring, bumper-to-bumper crazy evening rush-hour asphalt jungle.
On the grass, or on a bench, there’s alway a spot far from the madding crowd. My book keeps me company until I am ready to dive into the crowd on the large, catwalk-shaped square known as Rathausplatz.
I must admit, the delicious smell of food lures me away all too easily from the Yorkshire moors of Wuthering Heights. Booths line the square, with specialties from all over the world; food being cooked, boiled, roasted and barbecued on open fires. Paellas, Australian kangaroo steaks, Turkish kebabs, spicy Indian curry, or a typical Viennese sausage. An intoxicating, mouth-watering mix of grilled delights. Hard time making up my mind what to eat.
Finally, I decide on a kebab with no onions and a special Australian fruit juice drink. I manage to grab the remaining seat at one of the tables clustered around the fountain. Just watching. People watching. I like doing that.
As the sky goes from purple to black ink, the stars glittering above, I move toward one of the empty seats in the transient amphitheater under the stars.
Tonight they are showing Prokovieff’s Cinderella; one of my all-time favorites.
An injection of nourishment for the soul. Music . . . film . . . the stars listening . . . definitely works for me.
*Cuculoris In lighting for film, theatre and still photography, a cuculoris (occasionally also spelled cucoloris, kookaloris or cucalorus) is a device for casting shadows or silhouettes to produce patterned illumination.
——-TATIANA LENSKY was born in Baltimore and grew up in LA. She left home early to attend boarding school in Europe. Tatiana has spent most of her grown-up life living “kinda everywhere.” Mostly Europe. Previous professions: ballet dancer, camera assistant, assistent director, producer (of ads, mostly). She is currently living in Vienna, where her son is finishing school.
Tatiana is going to uni, studying English and American Literature. She is a blogger and she writes. (“I’ll be a writer when I publish my first book.”) Through her jobs in the film and advertising business, she has had the luck to travel to lots of countries and live in some of them. She’s still searching for the one place that is home. Tatiana blogs at Challenge Venus or Advance Your Worth.