As part of the 2019 opening committee, our grand entrance was heralded by an upbeat, orchestral march written by beloved Austrian composer Johann Strauss. Set to the light yet authoritative melody of his Jubel Marsch, we promenaded into the Vienna State Opera ballroom with the music demanding the entire hall’s attention. However, much like the Austrians themselves, the music also managed to convey the point politely—it was almost 10 PM, and the Vienna Opera Ball Eröffnung was about to begin.
During our week of pre-ball preparation, I learned to find a safe haven in the melody. I let Strauss guide my movements—how long to hold my smile, how to time my footsteps correctly. I was initially introduced to this particular work through private waltz lessons with my partner, and I was further familiarized with the piece through two, day-long rehearsals at the Vienna Opera House. In the end, each passage was cemented into my memory after a final general rehearsal, where I had the distinct privilege of watching the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna State Opera Ballet, and renowned opera singers Anna Netrebko and Yusiv Eyvazov work out their final kinks before the big event, all from front-row seats.