Well I have to admit it. Hokey as it feels sometimes, I really do love the Sound of Music. The movie, its music, the you-are-sixteen dance number in the gazebo, the  handsome captain as played by Christopher Plummer (at his most gorgeous in his white gloves inviting Julie Andrews to dance), the lonely goatherd puppet show, and last, but not least, the hills that are alive with the sounds of all of the above. And after July 29 I have a new version of this classic to add to my repertoire of memories – a puppet or rather marionette show version of the same. In the very hometown of the Family von Trapp. Salzburg.

Backing up… I found out about the tradition of puppetry – Marionettestheatre as they call it here – while on my first trip to Salzburg a few weeks ago. Apparently this is an old form of theatre dating back to the times of Mozart – the museum in the monastery in Salzburg had some marionettes from that era, which are featured in musical versions of “Die Zauberflöte” (The Magic Flute). A full chorus of musicians perform (either live or taped nowadays) while the drama is enacted by marionettes on a stage. While it didn’t quite gell then, I later realized that the afore-mentioned “Lonely Goatherd” scene in the Sound of Music was derived from the same tradition.

Anyway, a Marionette show was not possible during my first trip because of the very fancy dinner organized by Ravi and Sucharu’s friends for all of us. Back in Vienna I went online to do some research and found out several things. First, they actually have shows here in town itself – of The Magic Flute and of some Strauss opera – regularly at the Schloss Schönbrunn. So I knew I could definitely catch a show here at least. Then, when Mum got here and we decided to visit Salzburg, I decided to look and see what they offered (for whatever reason I thought their theatre sounded more steeped in history). Imagine my surprise when I found out that in addition to the Mozart operas, the Salzburgers were staging the Sound of Music! I knew this would be something Amma would enjoy more than the opera, and so I went ahead and booked it!

I don’t know about the comparative histories, but the Salzburg Marionettes Theatre definitely has a long history, its been around since 1913 and the granddaughter of the founder recently celebrated her 80- somethingth birthday. (As an aside, apparently the original Maria von Trapp had recently visited Salzburg – she’s 94 or 95 and seen the show also).

I’d definitely recommend it to anyone with an interest in musicals, theatre and the like. Working with puppets gave the choreographers some artistic license to things one couldn’t with live actors especially for numbers where the music suggests flights (actual ones and those of fancy as well). Ever a fan of the movie and music [any long distance journey our family has been on has always featured us belting out the words to various songs in this movie in top volume and with great enthusiasm, albeit a little hoarse and likely besura – i.e. out of tune] Mummy says this show topped the movie. After two hours she didn’t want it to end. And that is the ultimate compliment.

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