The world’s most popular musical, “The Sound of Music,” has remained unstaged on its home turf for 50 years.
Austrians, quite simply, resent the tuner as falsely portraying the country’s culture and history.
“Because of ‘Sound of Music,’ Americans think all us Austrians are sitting in the mountains and yodeling all the time,” complains opera singer Manuela Tyran.
But Vienna is poised to get its first exposure to “Music,” when Volksoper Wien gives its local stage premiere Feb. 26.
Director Renaud Doucet observes, “Nobody in Vienna knows it, and they react to it like strange food: ‘I never tasted it, but I know I don’t like it.’ ”
Somebody must like it: More than 18,000 tickets have been sold for 22 perfs at the 1,313-seater through June 18.
“I prefer the play to the movie,” says Doucet. “It touches political aspects avoided in the film like the Anschluss.
” ‘Sound of Music’ is so often seen as kitsch, but it reminds us that freedom is something we have to fight for everyday. There’s no kitsch in that.”
Bert Fink, PR exec for the Rodgers & Hammerstein Org, says: “We have no delusions that ‘Sound of Music’ is an authentic and exact representation of Austria: We are aware of the ironies. But it’s certainly the authors’ honorable homage to Austria’s people and culture. It will be fascinating to see how it is received in the country where its story began.”