Vienna: Opera House

Vienna’s State Opera House (Wiener Staatsoper) is one of the most prestigious opera houses in the world.  It is the epicenter of Vienna’s rich musical history. Completed in 1869, the opera house opened its doors to the public debuting with Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  It is known for having one of the largest repertoires in the world, featuring 300 performances per year.  With over 50 operas and ballets each season, there is a wide selection for people who wish to immerse themselves in Viennese culture.

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IMG_8287Located centrally on the Ring Boulevard, it is one of the main attractions in the city with its beautiful, Neo-Renaissance architecture, and eye-catching façade. The front gallery shows five beautiful bronze statues depicting Heroism, Fantasy, Love, Mourning, and Revenge.  On the rooftop, there are two statues of winged horses which represent Harmony and Poetry.

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There are several ways you can get in to see the opera house.  The traditional way where you buy advance tickets, the cheaper way where you buy the standing room tickets, or the guided tour. Below I’ve provided a little information about each method:

Advance Tickets

This is probably the best way catch a performance at the Staatsoper if you plan ahead and have money to spend.  Ticket prices vary greatly from €6 to €250 depending on seat location, time of show and the performance itself.   Cheaper seats can be unreliable as some or all of the views can be obstructed.  Tickets tend to sell out quickly, especially on opening nights, so you’ll have to book well in advance of your trip. You can visit the Staatsoper website to find more information about schedule of performances and ticket prices.

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Standing Room Tickets

If you are like us, and didn’t plan ahead and don’t want to drop a few hundred dollars on a show, you can try to get standing room tickets.  As the name suggests, the ticket will entitle you to standing room space where you will stay for the duration of the performance. The upside is the ticket will only set you back € 3-4 (less than the price of a beer) and you’ll still get to enjoy a world-class production inside this magnificent place. Note: You’ll only be able to buy 1 ticket per person, so if you’re going with a group, it’s essential that everyone queue in line for their own ticket.

Tickets usually go on sale 80 minutes before the curtain rises.  For more popular performances, you’ll need to show up hours in advance to ensure a ticket.  When you get there, look for a sign that says Stephplatz-Kasse (Standing Area).  After you buy your ticket, quickly head over to another line of people waiting for the theater door to open.  Since there are no assigned places, it’s important that you get in early to pick the best available spot.  Once the door opens and you’ve selected your place,  make sure that you bring a scarf that you can use to mark your territory.  This will allow you to wander off and explore the opera house and not lose your spot.

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Getting ready for the opera.

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Tours

We were going to line up for standing room tickets, but unfortunately our daytrip to Hallstatt ran longer than expected and we didn’t get back in time.  Instead we decided to go on a guided tour of the opera house.  Tours cost 7,50€  for adults and run every day at various times. Note: If you want a guaranteed tour of the stage, make sure you go on Sunday or during public holiday  at 10 am when there is no rehearsal. The guided tour usually lasts about 40 minutes and is conducted in multiple languages. You can get more information about the tour time on their official website.

Once inside, we joined everyone congregating in the main entrance hall of the opera house waiting for the tour to start.  The tour takes you up the grand marble staircase to the many rooms inside, each more ornate and beautiful than the last.  The main marble hall was decorated with gilded gold details filled with graceful marble statues representing different aspects of art.  Next, we got a peek inside the tea room where Emperor Franz Joseph used to sit and enjoy his tea.  Along the walls, there are golden silk panels displaying Austria’s coat of arms and the Emperor’s monogram.  Weaving our way through the foyers, we saw busts of famous composers and conductors such as Mozart, Schubert and Beethoven looking down from their lofty perches.  The hallways are adorned with breathtaking tapestries, vibrant ceiling paintings, and frescoes depicting scenes from Mozart’s Magic Flute.

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The tour ended in the auditorium where we were allowed on stage looking out towards the audience.  The surprisingly cavernous back stage is a hive of activity, full of people setting up scenery and getting ready for another performance.  Looking out from the stage, you can see the tiered seating area and the impressive crystal chandelier that weighs 12 tons and measures 7 meters in diameter.

Here are some more pictures from our tour:

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Scary looking cherub

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Elaborate tapestry on the wall

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Private tea room

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3 thoughts on “Vienna: Opera House

  1. Pingback: Trip Report: Austria | life after 9to5

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