Vienna State Opera. Opera House in Vienna, Austria

Vienna State Opera

Opera House in Vienna, Austria

Vienna State Opera Photo © Smtunli

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Vienna State Opera

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Vienna  Opera House - Vienna State Opera
Vienna Opera House - Vienna State Opera. Photo by eastboca.net
The Vienna Opera House, one of the busiest and most famous opera houses in the world has everything - the breathtaking grandeur, an immensely talented opera company that regularly performs the world’s best operatic repertoire, and the Vienna Philharmonic – the world-famous orchestra.

Staatsopera, the Vienna Opera, began in the early 19th century, and seeing a performance inside this beautiful structure is one of the highlights of any Vienna visit. Designed by architects Eduard van der Nüll and August Sicard von Sicardsburg in the Neo-Renaissance style, the theater was partly destroyed by bombs during World War II and was not completely restored until 1955. It was often criticized for not being “grand enough” to house such a rich tradition.

The historical highlight of the opera house is the Tea Salon, formerly the Emperor’s Salon, located between the staircase and the central boxes. The auditorium accommodates 2,200 seats and standing places. Significant details of the building are the loggia, with its allegories in the arcades, the wall paintings, and the imposing staircase with the statues of the seven free arts, made out of marble.

Performances of opera and ballet are performed every day from September to June. Being one of the busiest opera houses in the world, you’ll find it often stages a different opera each day of the week. The theater is known for its affordable standing-room-only tickets that theater-goers snatch up minutes before a performance.

If you're interested in learning more about the Staatsoper, head over to the Staatsopermuseum, which displays photos, costumes, models of stage sets, and articles spanning the house's history.

 - Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera. Photo by Miguel Mendez

History

The Atrium -
	Vienna State Opera
The Atrium - Vienna State Opera. Photo by SteFou!
The opening of the opera house with Mozart's Don Juan in May 1869 was done by the Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Joseph. The popularity of the opera grew under the artistic influence of the first directors. The Vienna opera experienced its first glory under the direction of Gustav Mahler (Wikipedia
	Article). He completely transformed the outdated performance system, increased the precision and timing of the performances, and also utilized the experience of other noteworthy artists, such as Alfred Roller, for the formation of new stage aesthetics.

The years 1938 to 1945 were a dark chapter in the history of the opera house. Under the Nazis, many members of the house were driven out, pursued, and killed, and many works were not allowed to be played. A bomb heavily damaged the building in 1945, the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyerin in the first floor were not damaged. The the auditorium and stage had to be rebuilt from scratch. Today, the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world. It has been under the direction of Dominique Meyer, along with musical director Franz Welser-Möst, since September 2010.

Vienna Opera Ball

The Opera Ball is the social highlight of Vienna's glamour with international guests from the world of culture, business, politics, sports, and science. The Vienna Opera Ball started in 1877 and usually takes place on the last Thursday of the carnival season, from 7 PM to 5 AM. The spectacular opening ceremony features opera and ballet performances, and 160 couples dance the opening number in front of the President of Austria, before the floor is opened to all. The traditional quadrille dancing takes places three times during the evening; at midnight, at 4 AM (Fledermaus quadrille by Johann Strauss), and at 2 AM (Orpheus quadrille by Johann Strauss). The ordinary entrance fee is €250 ($288). Additional table and box tickets for various categories range from €180 ($207) for two people sharing a table on the 6th floor, to €18,500 ($21,000) for double-stage boxes or side-levels boxes.

Visiting

Vienna State Opera
	- Vienna State Opera
Vienna State Opera - Vienna State Opera. Photo by Jiuguang Wang
The Staatsoper still host performances, but you can also visit this magnificent building on a guided tour which lasts around 40 minutes. Usually there are at least 2 guided tours per day which are held in different languages. The schedule is available at the Wiener Staatsoper homepage. Combination tickets for the tour and museum are available.

The seats for many performances sell out well in advance, an alternative is to buy standing-room tickets, which are well-priced and can be purchased on the same day, but expect long queues. Tickets go on sale about 80-90 minutes before each performance. Be aware, you can only get 1 ticket per person. This means that everyone who wants to see the performance must wait in line.

And bring a scarf - once inside the opera you’re allowed to save your spot in front of a padded handrail by draping a scarf along your chosen patch. Dress code is informal in the standing room, but if you want to walk around the public rooms, you might feel comfortable wearing something more elegant or at least dark-colored.

Getting There

The Staatsoper is located south of Hofburg Palace (Wikipedia Article) along the Ringstrasse. Take the Metro (U-Bahn lines) U1, U2, U4 or the 59A bus to Karlsplatz or Opera station.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Sep 23, 2014

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