Austrian artists are taking world stages by storm.
Austria – a land of culture: That’s not just true of the past; it will also be true in the future. A host of Austrian artists are taking world stages by storm from their base in Vienna. Some of them are just beginning to establish an international reputation, others have already done so.
From backstage kitchen to State Opera
When she was a young girl Daniela Fally used to make coffee backstage for the ensemble at the summer festival in Mödling. Back then, however, she never dreamed that at the age of 30 she would be singing at the Vienna State Opera. Every now and then, she would be allowed to play small roles in Lower Austria, and when she took on a figure with a Berlin accent, the director realised she had a talent for comedy. “I noticed that I never suffered from any kind of nerves when I went on stage. On the contrary, I felt at home, like a fish in water.” Even while she was studying vocals in Vienna, Fally received an award at the University of Music and Performing Arts for outstanding achievement. Nowadays, the soprano is a member of the Vienna State Opera ensemble and can look back on appearances at a raft of international opera houses including Zurich, Berlin and Chicago. As an Austrian she has always enjoyed a special standing. “People listen to me when I talk about style and tradition. The Salzburg Festival has a very special flair, and the festivals in Bregenz and Mörbisch are incredibly exciting too.” But it’s when she talks about her “artistic home”, the Vienna State Opera, that Fally really goes into raptures. “For me, it is an absolutely magical place. The best repertoire opera house in the world. After all, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra plays there.” But it’s not just the opera she loves; she’s also fallen in love with the city itself.
The world has never seen an animal like it. Not even the art world. Every single body part of the “Vibrosaurus” is also a musical instrument: a tuba, a trombone or a horn. “I want to convey mindfulness and conjure up mental images,” says Constantin Luser a visual artist and the creator of this orchestral dinosaur. He is a representative of a young Austrian arts scene that is also attracting international attention. Galleries in Germany and Switzerland display Luser’s work, both his drawings and sculptures, and also regularly showcase works he has created which use different art forms, such as the sketches he did on the walls of the exhibition rooms in the Kunsthalle Krems. Or the three-dimensional sketches made of wire, of the kind he developed in collaboration with the Art-Brut artists in Maria Gugging. “Working with the artists in Gugging was especially exciting, because these people work very much from their own sensitivities,” the 38-year-old Grazer says. Luser now lives in Vienna, where he also studied – at both the Academy of Fine Arts and at the University for Applied Art. Graz, the city of his birth, recently staged a large exhibition dedicated to his works at the Kunsthaus entitled Music Tames the Beast.
On occasions, Laura Fischer has been known to roll about on the floor in the disco. “When I do completely crazy things, then of course I get one or two strange looks.” In most cases, though, people are simply left speechless by her dance talent, be it on the stage or in a club. When the young woman from Salzburg starts to dance her flowing movements leave the impression her dance is a never-ending cycle. Fischer learned her technique at ballet schools in Salzburg and Vienna and consolidated it whilst studying at the conservatory in Vienna. Most recently, she was a member of the Graz Opera dance company for four years. Nowadays she dedicates herself completely to modern dance: “With modern dance I can develop my own language much more than I can with ballet. I rehearse the same step again and again to internalise it in my body,” the ambitious artist says.
- Benjamin Feilmair © Lukas Beck
When clarinettist Benjamin Feilmair was a child, “playing” meant “playing an instrument”. The 23-year-old got to know and love the clarinet through his father. The Feilmair family always made music but his parents never put any pressure on him. Even then, Feilmair was driven to practise by the desire “to be able to play something as well as I could imagine it”. Aged eleven he began a beginner’s course at the Anton Bruckner Private University in Linz and later went on to study at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna. Musically, he is always accompanied by his brother Florian, an award-winning pianist. “We always try to interpret the score together in a fresh way,” Benjamin says talking about their partnership. If the brothers ever do have different ideas about a piece, they have to pull together and agree on an interpretation, “otherwise the music suffers”. Feilmair wants to let the audience feel the enjoyment he gets from playing, and so his repertoire also includes comic pieces.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” recalls Sabrina Reiter talking about the making of her first film Dead in 3 Days. The dental assistant was enjoying a night out clubbing when someone invited her to audition for the film, and when she did director Andreas Prochaska was sufficiently impressed to offer her a leading role. “I only went because I wanted to see how an audition works,” she says. In fact her debut was so successful that she won the Udine Award in the category Best Newcomer and was invited to the European Shooting Stars at the Berlinale. “Despite that, I still didn’t feel like an actress afterwards. There was more to it than that for me.” Even though her discovery owed much to chance and good fortune, as she admits herself, she had in fact dreamed of an acting career before then. “Actually I had intended to begin studying at a drama school in Berlin, but then the audition came up”. The fact that her dream ultimately came true via a different route confirmed Reiter’s outlook on life. “Things that are supposed to happen do so. Of course, I have and always have had my own ideas, but I’m always willing to be persuaded by something new.”
The club musician
- Clemens Bacher/Cid Rim © Lukas Beck
Cid Rim’s real name is Clemens Bacher and he certainly doesn’t fit the mould of a traditional club musician – not least because of the way he works. First he finds inspiration for harmonies and chords on the piano and only then does he start working on his PC. His songs sound like a playful mixture of funk, jazz, hip-hop and UK bass.
In 2012, Bacher joined the established London label LuckyMe, which also has other electronic music stars such as Hudson Mohawke or Rustie under contract. By now, the Viennese producer has made a name for himself in the UK. Crowds throng to his concerts and his songs can be heard on the radio; but Austria remains his home.