L'événement culturel de l'été à Bruxelles!
Merry Widow (The)
Today, Vienna is a popular tourist destination, the elegant capital of a peaceful republic. But in 1905, it was one of the world's busiest financial and cultural centers, and the capital of Austria-Hungary, a polyglot empire with over 50 million inhabitants, the second largest nation in Europe. The Hapsburg dynasty had governed this unruly confederation since the 13th Century. Emperor Franz Joseph had been on the throne since 1848, and at age 75 commanded enough public affection to keep the empire functioning, despite the occasional stumbles of a massive and often corrupt bureaucracy. Nationalists and political extremists pulled from all sides. In 1905, when a revolutionary crisis in Russia inspired renewed calls for reform in Austria-Hungary, Franz Joseph granted a portion of his subjects voting rights. In years to come, he did his best to turn back time, but increasing discontentment gradually turned the empire into what one historian has called "a madhouse of nationalities."
Despite the political turmoil, the Viennese clung to their intellectual and artistic pursuits, finding comfort in their coffee mitt schlag ("with cream"), sacher torte and their native brand of romantic comic operetta. As a major banking and business center, Vienna had ample resources, and a sizeable population with the leisure time and money to support the arts, including several fulltime operetta theatres, some of which remain active to this day. And while Vienna welcomed its share of revivals, theatergoers expected and got a constant flow of original works. At the start of the 20th Century, the latest Viennese hits often traveled to Berlin, London and New York, so there was a constant demand for new ideas and fresh talent.