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The Salzburg Festival and Schlumberger • Two Austrian cultural traditions joining forces

14 MAR 2014

published in: General

Peter Simonischek, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Eduard Kranebitter (Photo: Schlumberger / Karl Schöndorfer)
However, from the middle of the 19th century, the audience of musical theatre works encountered its own, contemporary reality increasingly often in the settings, and when celebrations took place on stage, sparkling wine was de rigueur. In the famous “Brindisi” in Verdi’s La traviata (1853), Violetta and Alfredo surely toast each other with sparkling wine, or rather champagne (after all, we are in Paris). Of course, one genre that is particularly champagne-happy is the “lighter” one of operetta: as early as 1866, thanks to Charles Lecocq’s Les Ondines au champagne (The Champagne Mermaids), champagne made it into the title of a stage work. However, sparkling wine enjoyed its most important stage appearances during the heyday of Austrian operetta. Johann Strauß’ Die Fledermaus is almost unthinkable without this drink, and it is no coincidence that it is traditionally performed on New Year’s Eve. Here, Prince Orlofsky raises his glass in a toast: “Champagne, king of all wines! Long live this sparkling Majesty and all its subjects!” Finally, champagne is held responsible for all the quandaries the Fledermaus protagonists find themselves in: “It is champagne’s fault […] everything we suffered today”.
In Johann Strauß’ Wiener Blut (1899), Balduin Count Zedlau explains his philosophy of life to young Pepi as follows: “Chin-chin! Chin-chin, you love of mine, and drink with me this champagne wine, and heed this moral: you only live once!”
In Franz Lehár’s Lustige Witwe (1905), Danilo praises Maxim’s, where champagne is the standard fare and he is on intimate terms with all the ladies. Armand in Lehár’s Frasquita (1922) also considers sparkling wine a necessary prerequisite for any rendezvous – in his serenade “Hab ein blaues Himmelbett”, he sings, “When sparkling wine bubbles in the glass and the cigarette glows, you, my little mouse, feel right at home.” Finally, Mister X in Emmerich Kálmán’s Zirkusprinzessin (1926) explains that sparkling wine in general promotes positive thinking: “If you view life through a champagne glass, you will see it glow.”
Italian opera librettists never shied away from drinking excesses, but sparkling wine is rarely found in their works. One interesting exception is Pietro Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana (1890): although geographically far from the home of prosecco, the Sicilian peasant Turiddu praises the invigorating buzz of sparkling wine: “Viva il vino spumeggiante” – “Hooray for sparkling wine”!

“Culture forms part of the DNA of our brand and our company” says Schlumberger’s Chairman of the Board, Eduard Kranebitter, about the cooperation with the Salzburg Festival. He continues: “With the popular glass of Schlumberger before an evening at the opera or during a concert interval, from now on ‘Everyman’ will be able to enjoy Austria’s answer to champagne at the Salzburg Festival.”

“A night at the theatre or opera should always be a total work of art. Of course, a nice glass of Schlumberger contributes to this experience. We are delighted about this new cooperation, which will make attending the Festival an even more festive experience,” said Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler.

At the Festival’s performance venues in Salzburg, its visitors will be able to enjoy the Austrian culture of sparkling wine, as embodied by the Schlumberger brand, at least until 2016.