Vienna has always been a melting pot. Rivers were the superhighways of the medieval world, and the mighty Danube flows through 10 European countries. In the past, immigrants streamed into Vienna from the Habsburg Empire. Today, it’s Turkey, the former Yugoslavia, and Africa. One taxi driver in Graz had lost his arm in Bosnia; another driver, from Turkey, was happy to teach his passengers rudimentary Deutsch.
The avant garde Museumsquartier (“Museum Quarter”) is hidden behind an innocuous facade on the Ringstrasse. Inside the complex are modern art museums, cafés, dance centers, production studios, spitting fountains, oversized loungers, and sleeping students. Think of a giant nursery school playroom and you won’t be far off.
Anything can happen in the Museumsquartier. You might be serenaded by pink-wigged opera students or accosted by tattooed backpackers looking for weed. If you’re not interested in the Schieles and Klimts at the Leopold Museum, or your head is buzzing from the Warhols and the Lichtensteins at the MUMOK, grab a drink and put your feet up on the furniture.
Basis Kultur’s free pop-up opera took place on June 7, 2015 in the Museumsquartier. Like any good student party, there were pink and purple wigs, toothbrushes, and a pillow fight. Walls came courtesy of Evian.
The audience was equally entertaining, with a Russian wearing a tank-top encrusted with the Union Jack, a Klimt’ish gentleman with long grey hair and a psychedelic t-shirt, and a little girl standing on top of a blue lounger to glimpse the singers. One 2-year-old was so thrilled by the experience that he repeatedly ran through the set.