Friday 28 April 2017

Sound of Music returns to Salzburg

Wietske van Tongeren, centre, performs with children during a dress rehearsal for the musical The Sound of Music (AP)
Wietske van Tongeren, centre, performs with children during a dress rehearsal for the musical The Sound of Music (AP)

Move over Mozart - toes in Salzburg are tapping to a new beat as the Austrian city finally embraces the Hollywood musical that put it on the map nearly half a century ago.

Playing for the first time in the haughty town of opera lovers, The Sound Of Music has been met with surprisingly positive reactions in what is commonly considered a last bulwark of resistance to the iconic show.

"A wonderful performance," enthused Johann Fink at the end of a performance at the ornate Salzburg State Theatre.

Such a reception in Salzburg is hardly a given despite the global popularity of the musical that was based on a true story and immortalised by the 1965 multiple Academy Award winning movie starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer.

Fans around the world may know every word of every song performed by Andrews as the governess of seven children who charms - then weds - their widowed father Baron von Trapp (Plummer), before the singing family flees the Nazis.

But Salzburg resonates to another sound of music - the music of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms. And it has a different concept of culture.

While residents earn millions each year from the tourists who come for singalong tours of sites featured in the film, they traditionally view the visitors with benign disdain - and occasionally as pests.

Residents of the wealthy Salzburg neighbourhood where the von Trapp home is located tried - and failed - to block attempts to turn the edifice into a hotel, fearing tourists would snarl traffic and make a nuisance of themselves.

A museum dedicated to the film is still looking for a home after more than 600 residents in another neighbourhood signed a petition three years ago against it, telling the city council they feared that local streets would be jammed with tour buses.

Resistance persists even though the city would literally be poorer without the musical's magnet effect.

Press Association

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