With a hilarious Viennese conductor at its helm, “Salute to Vienna” returned to the Music Center at Strathmore on Sunday afternoon, ringing out 2013 with a joyful concert that was as much a feast for the ears as it was for the eyes.
Under the baton of Christian Schulz, the Strauss Symphony of America dove into delightful morsels of Austrian operettas and dances. It set high expectations, serving a regal read of Franz von Suppe’s Overture to “The Light Cavalry” and later delivering his Overture to “Poet and Peasant” with calm lyricism and ebullient celebration.
Tenor Brian Cheney showcased his expressive phrasing in Franz Lehar’s “Dein ist mein ganzes Herz.” His sweet, romantic voice proved a suitable match for soprano Monika Rebholz in “Lippen schweigen” from Lehar’s “Merry Widow.” Together, they sang a powerful “Mein lieber Schatz” from Emmerich Kalman’s “Countess Maritza.” Rebholz’s acrobatic voice also soared energetically in the operetta’s “Hore ich Zigeunergeigen.”
Schulz kept the energy flowing between selections by providing witty commentary. He even coaxed concertgoers to sing in Johann Strauss Jr.’s “Bauern” Polka, Op. 276, with coaching prior to its performance. In the remaining polkas and waltzes, six ballet dancers from Austria’s Europaballett-St. Polten and two ballroom-dance couples whirled and leapt about in glamorous costumes.
The audience was reluctant to depart, so the performers indulged in encores that included the Waltz King’s “Blue Danube,” complete with dancing.
Jean is a freelance writer.