We were spending a few days in Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, and after taking a morning trip out to Oberndorf bei Salzburg, the home of Silent Night, which you can read about here, we decided to see if we could find a concert to go to in the evening. As it turned out, the only thing we could find was a Mozart dinner concert, but that sounded perfect.
This was a presentation from the Salzburger Konzertgesellschaft, promising arias and duets from Don Giovanni, Le Nozze Di Figaro and Die Zauberflote, as well as Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. It would take place in the Baroque Hall at St Peter Monastery in Stiftskeller St Peter, the oldest restaurant in central Europe, first mentioned in 803. The Mozart family used to dine here and we were promised a dinner carefully prepared according to recipes of the 18th century.
We had not booked in advance so wanted to get there as close to the 7 o’clock box office opening time as possible, but had a little trouble finding the location. In fact, once you know where it is, it is very straightforward – walking away from St Peter’s Abbey it is on the left, through an archway labelled Erzabtei St. Peter which leads into a square. It was snowing lightly as we walked towards it and while that added to the atmosphere it did not prepare us for what we found inside.
Every bit of space was covered in the most wonderful and exotic Christmas decorations and this was now a veritable winter wonderland. We were directed upstairs through the restaurant building to the Baroque Hall and were pleased to find that tickets were still available. In the end the hall was probably about two thirds full, but as Salzburg itself did not feel busy while we were there I would not recommend that you take a chance, and would always advise that you book in advance. We were shown to our seats, everyone just mixing as they filled the tables from the front, and awaited the start of the performance. It is worth mentioning that there are VIP tickets available which appear to get you into the middle seats, provide you with a personal waiter, and include some additions to the menu. We had standard tickets and found them to be more than good enough.
The hall itself was stunning enough but, of course, we were here during the Christmas period, which meant there was a huge and beautifully decorated tree providing a wonderful backdrop to the quintet which now came out. There were two violins, a viola, a cello and a double bass, and they were joined at appropriate times by a soprano and a baritone, and they are all graduates of the Mozarteum Salzburg.
They began with a number of pieces from Don Giovanni – La ci darem la mano (duet); Madamina, il catalogo e questo; Vedrai, carino; Deh vieni alla finestra; Batti, batti o bel Masetto; and Giovinette che fatte all amore (duet) – so we enjoyed a lot of excellently performed music before we even got to our first course. The musicians departed, our food was brought to us, and we started with a white lemon soup with curd cheese rosemary dumpling and cream topping which was delicious, even if it did look very beige and was a little heavy in its taste. I should mention that the service throughout was very friendly and of the highest quality.
The musicians returned and we enjoyed a number of pieces from Le Nozze Di Figaro.
They began with the very rousing Ouverture before being joined by the singers for Crudel, per che finora (duet); Se vuol ballare, Signor contino; Non so piu cosa son; Non piu andrai; Deh vieni non tardar; and Cinque, dieci, venti (duet). Our main course was breast of capon on glaze of red wine and herbs with pumpkin dumpling, semolina strudel and vegetables from Padre Prior’s garden. The capon was not dry at all, and I enjoyed the flavours of both the dumpling and the strudel, while the vegetables were nicely crunchy, just how I like them. And the portion was just right, because you would not want to feel too full sitting through an evening like this.
Before we moved on to Die Zauberflote we were presented with their arrangement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, my second-favourite piece from Mozart, and I loved this arrangement. They do have a cd available and I bought a copy so that I could get this arrangement. Then we were joined by the singers once again for Schnelle Fusse, rascher Mut; Bei Mannern welche Liebe fuhlen ! (duet); Papagena, Papagena, Papagena; and Pa-pa-pa (duet), when they also included the younger daughter from the family at our table towards the end, causing the rest of the family to rush for the cameras on their phones.
We finished off the evening with a dessert of semi-frozen parfait of forest honey on two sauces, which was so beautifully presented on the plate with a chocolate treble clef and a chocolate dusting silhouette of Mozart. We had been here for over two hours and this was a lovely way to bring a magical evening to a close.
You can see more of my photographs from the evening here.