Why is the Vienna Opera House on a path to attracting a widening circle of culture fans? Largely because the Wiener Staatsoper has been managing the balancing act of mixing classical evergreens with modern productions, presenting opera stars while hosting young talent, and using technology to reach out to tomorrow’s opera fans.
Not long ago, unless you were a die-hard opera buff or socialite ballroom dancer, you would probably have ignored the Wiener Staatsoper. But apart from classical opera performances, there are many more ways to connect with the ‘House on the Ring[straße]’. Here are seven different ways the Vienna State Opera can shape the experience of culture travelers, and what is in store for the next 12 months:
1. A Night At The Opera
At its most basic, watch an opera performance at the Vienna Opera House. Because tickets for the Staatsoper can sell out easily weeks in advance, choose a performance and buy tickets as soon as you have booked your flight/train and hotel. With 350 performances between September and June, you can expect a rich choice. Apart from operas from the likes of Mozart, Puccini, and Verdi, the Staatsoper also performs classical and modern ballets.
During each performance, surtitles are shown in English, Italian, French, Japanese, and Russian, which makes the opera plots easier to follow.
According to vienna-unwrapped.com, for booking Vienna opera tickets you can either buy from Staatsoper’s main ticketing service, or from third-party ticket providers, some of which provide a top-quality service.
2. Opera Matinées
Before every opera and ballet premiere, the Vienna Opera house introduces the work itself, the staging or the choreography as well as the artists of the new production. The presentations usually take place on Sunday mornings and are held in German.
For the first time, the Staatsoper will introduce ‘Regieportraits’ (stage portraits) from September 2020: Because many stage directors will return to the opera house to direct an increasing number of opera premieres, the Vienna Opera House will regularly host live interviews supported by images and videos with each new stage director. This will provide an excellent opportunity for new and classical opera fans to connect with opera stage productions in the 21st century.
On certain Sunday mornings, a small audience in the Gustav Mahler auditorium can connect with the younger ensemble members over selected arias, duets and songs. This is a great way to look beyond the actual opera plots appreciate young talents on a more personal level.
3. Vienna Philharmonics Concert
Did you know that all members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra also play in the Vienna Opera House’s orchestra? Since the Staatsoper and the Vienna Philharmonics have a close working relationship, the opera house regularly hosts Vienna Philharmonics chamber concerts. Once or twice a month on a Saturday you can listen to fine chamber music by this world-renowned orchestra in the smaller setting of the Gustav Mahler auditorium for under EUR 40.
4. Guided Opera Tour
Especially in Vienna, the State Opera has always played a key role in the city’s cultural life, not least thanks to the Habsburg Emperors’ love of music and plays. To fully capture why opera is still so important in Wien a guided tour through the opera house will provide a few stunning insights. On top, you will see marvelous rooms, such as Emperor Francis Joseph’s tea room, that are usually not accessible for the public. The tours usually take place on most afternoons in German and English and do not require pre-booking.
5. Opera Live Outdoors
In April, May, June, and September, opera newbies or those who prefer a more relaxed setting gather on the square to the right of the Vienna Opera House to enjoy live opera streams. The 50 square meter video wall provides a glimpse of the full in-house experience and is free of cost. A limited number of 180 seats is provided on a first-come-first-serve basis. Half an hour before the start, the audience receives background information about the opera, the production, and the cast on the video wall. For the full program, visit the Wiener Staatsoper’s website.
6. Live Streams To Watch At Home
During the coronavirus lockdown in Austria, the Vienna State Opera’s live streaming service threw a life-line to starved culture fans, while the Staatsoper remained closed. However, live streaming also provided an opportunity for less experienced opera visitors to try out a new experience. Even since the Vienna Opera House re-opened its doors culture fans from all over the world can still access the archived live streams for free from their homes.
To watch the streaming service you need to register with the State Opera free of charge. For an optional donation, you can watch daily video streams of past opera performances at the opera house on your desktop, TV, or tablet.
Vienna Opera Ball
Each year, the Wiener Staatsoper turns its auditorium and stage upside down to accommodate Vienna’s most-watched ballroom dancing event. For almost 150 years, the Vienna Opera Ball has attracted national and international celebrities, artists, business people and politicians for a night of ballroom dancing, and classical music and dance performances.
Since tickets sell out fast, make sure you order them as soon as they become available at the Wiener Staatsoper, usually from March/April for the coming year. A standard entry ticket costs EUR 315 though can more than double in price when sold through third-party ticket vendors after the event has sold out.
Thanks to new opera director Bogdan Roščić the Vienna State Opera will open up in the coming years. In this respect, the Staatsoper aggressively extends its opera repertoire and will also bring more international top orchestras and conductors to perform at the house.
Very young singers will be trained at the new in-house Opera Studio. The children’s opera performances will find a new location to keep nurturing tomorrow’s opera guests. To also visually open up, the Staatsoperncafé on the ground floor will be replaced with a visitor center that sells tickets and offers information about the house.