That night, knowing that I would be feeling wistful, I splurged on a ticket to see the soprano Edita Gruberova in an all-Mozart concert. This was truly coming full circle – I had seen her in “Lucia” in 1982 when I was in Vienna studying Schoenberg, at a time when she was not at all well known in the U.S. I was astonished at the beautiful, bell-like sound of her voice, her range, and how she made the demanding first act just seem like a warmup for the rest of the opera – she just kept getting better and better, until the mad scene, which was unbelievably well sung and well acted. She became one of my all-time favorite sopranos. This recital filled the grosse Saal of the Konzerthaus, and she obviously has a huge fan base in Vienna. Although her voice has just a little rasp now, it is also deliciously dark and she still has an incredibly supple coloratura. And at the end of the concert, the audience fell into one of those magical moments that happens sometimes in Europe – all clapping together in unison! She did grant us an encore, and then swept off the stage waving goodbye. After the concert, she signed programs and CDs, and I was only too happy to join the enthusiastic queue for this in the lobby – rewarded not only with an autograph, but a photo. I was so happy to get to meet her! – especially before she retires – anticipated in the next 2-3 years or so.
After the concert, I did the Viennese thing and took myself for one last nightcap at the Landtmann Café. Another farewell! Although I’d sampled many of the traditional cafés across Vienna, the Landtmann became my favorite, and the one I visited most – partly because it was near the Schottentor Ubahn and the university so very convenient to my usual haunts, and partly because the waiters there were unfailingly hospitable, kind, and friendly. They always let me practice my German on them with complete politeness, and I always felt well taken care of!
I amused myself while eating a lovely “Theater Teller” (theater plate with cold meats, cheeses, and a “Gabelbissel” a little glass filled with a very yummy mixture of unrecognizable stuff to be eaten with a fork) imagining that the bearded man at the table in front of mine was Freud himself, out for a late night repast!