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Bösendorfer at the Vienna Opera Ball

This year, the societal highlight of Vienna's carnival season, the Vienna Opera Ball, revolved around musical icons Mahler and Chopin, as well as around the outgoing opera director Ioan Holender. Also at the center of focus: a Bösendorfer grand.

In his eleventh and last Opera Ball on February 11, Vienna State Opera director Ioan Holender said goodbye to the audience with the (slightly modified) "Champagne" Aria from Johann Strauss's operetta Fledermaus: "I look forward to a new life! Toast! Toast!"

The Vienna Opera Ball societal highlight of Vienna's carnival season (copyright for all photos: www.fayer.at)

The Vienna Opera Ball societal highlight of Vienna's carnival season (copyright for all photos: www.fayer.at)

Vienna State Opera director Ioan Holender: "I look forward to a new life! Toast! Toast!"

Vienna State Opera director Ioan Holender: "I look forward to a new life! Toast! Toast!"

13 soloists from the State Opera sang for Ioan Holender and the Opera Ball guests, among them soprano Ildikó Raimondi and baritone Adrian Eröd.

13 soloists from the State Opera sang for Ioan Holender and the Opera Ball guests, among them soprano Ildikó Raimondi and baritone Adrian Eröd.

Opening surprise with Bösendorfer grand piano

Highlights of the opening were - in addition to the terrific choreography of the 144 debutant couples - a medley of arias and songs from the world of opera and operetta, composed by Alfred Eschwe for 13 Vienna State Opera soloists, as well as virtuoso Chopin interpretations by Polish pianist Krzysztof Jablonski, who played a Bösendorfer grand piano placed in the middle of the dance floor. The Vienna State Opera Ballet danced around - and on - the piano while he played.

For the thousands of Opera Ball guests and the millions of television viewers, it was a big surprise...

For the thousands of Opera Ball guests and the millions of television viewers, it was a big surprise...

... when delicate dancers pushed a Bösendorfer model 214 grand piano into the middle of the dance floor during the opening celebration...

... when delicate dancers pushed a Bösendorfer model 214 grand piano into the middle of the dance floor during the opening celebration...

... and Polish pianist Krzysztof Jablónski commenced his tremendous playing...

... and Polish pianist Krzysztof Jablónski commenced his tremendous playing...

... in homage to his countryman Frédéric Chopin on the occasion of his 200th birthday.

... in homage to his countryman Frédéric Chopin on the occasion of his 200th birthday.

While he played, the Vienna State Opera Ballet danced around and even on the Bösendorfer piano. A grandiose finale of a grandiose musical and dancing surprise.

While he played, the Vienna State Opera Ballet danced around and even on the Bösendorfer piano. A grandiose finale of a grandiose musical and dancing surprise.

The Vienna State Opera Ballet danced around and even on the Bösendorfer piano.

The Vienna State Opera Ballet danced around and even on the Bösendorfer piano.

Until the wee hours of the morning

The magnificent ballroom was immersed in exquisite flower arrangements of red roses, hydrangea and lilacs, specially installed crystal chandeliers hung from the ceilings.

After the celebratory opening ceremony, thousands of Viennese and guests from within and outside of Austria did not let the debutantes' call trail off unheard: "Everybody dance!" was the evening's central theme, and participants danced into the wee hours of the morning (and schmoozed and bantered as well). Even if it was sometimes a very tight squeeze on the dance floors, as this year's Opera Ball was once again - very much to the delight of ball director Désirée Treichl-Stürgkh - sold out.

(rulö)
Photo credits: all photos copyright: www.fayer.at