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OFF THE WALTZ

The streets of Vienna pose little danger in the way of petty crime, but travelers should definitely be on the lookout for a more subtle form of assault — relentlessly friendly young men, hawking an array of concerts — phony-baloney, 90-minute programs featuring the greatest hits of Strauss and Mozart, put on for the benefit of tourists. These events take place all over town, featuring a scaled-down orchestra, a pair of opera singers, a whirling ballerina and a Strauss waltz, complete with dancing couple. We figured we’d actually bought tickets to a real concert when we picked ours up by the Opera House, but no. The “Vienna Kursalon” show was fine, but so formulaic, that if being boring was a crime, everyone on stage would be brought up on charges.

Then again, maybe we were the lucky ones. Finding the stage manager in the lobby afterwards, we asked:
“Do you do the same show every night?”
“Every single night,” he answered, rolling his eyes.
“Every single night.”