Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Gstaad, home of the Menuhin Festival

Where do you go if you want to hear tenor Jonas Kaufmann sing and you find all his opera performances are long since sold out? Well, if it's August, you go to Switzerland, to a tiny place called Gstaad, high up in the mountains.  The road/rail ends at Gstaad - it is as far as you can go before the rock face to the south cuts you off. Over the mountain is Italy.
Switzerland: Zweisimmen (red arrow left) and
Gstaad (red arrow right) and lots of ski-lifts

Gstaad seems an unlikely choice for a famous-tenor concert, particularly when you find Kaufmann is singing in a tent (yes really!), but then you discover this concert is part of the Menuhin Music Festival and that Yehudi Menuhin lived in Gstaad and it no longer seems so outlandish.

Festival Tent in Gstaad
I discovered this concert a few months ago when there were still tickets available and here I am, jetlagged but ready to listen.

I am not in Gstaad yet actually but in nearby  Zweisimmen. A bed in Gstaad costs CHF300 (AUD$412) - way too expensive for artists, or many people really.  There is a piano recital (also part of the Menuhin Festival) in the Zweisimmen church the night before Kaufmann sings, so it seemed an ideal place to stay. I did check the train timetables and yes, there is a late train back to Zweisimmen! I have since discovered that a shuttle bus services operates from Bern and Lausanne for the major concerts so perhaps even the Swiss find accommodation prices in Gstaad a little overwhelming.

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