Vienna State Opera: the leading European opera house

Ogi Savic | Live the World

November 23, 2022

The Vienna State Opera House is probably the institution that Vienna is the best known for, not just for the fact that it is one of the top opera addresses in Europe, but also for its tradition, architecture and significance in the world of classical music. So let’s start with an introduction of this bastion of music that stands for the leading European opera house.

Double entertainment in the city  

Vienna is the only city in the world with two opera houses. During the Habsburg Monarchy, it was usual to have double institutions - one for court and the other for people. So, we have: Burgpark (Court park) and Volkspark (People’s park), Burgtheater (Court Theater) and Volkstheater (People’s Theater), the same case was for opera houses - Hofoper (Court Opera) and Volksoper (People’s Opera). The goal was to entertain not only to the court and Kaiser but common people of Vienna as well. After the fall of the monarchy and the foundation of the First Austrian Republic, the name of the Vienna Court Opera was changed to the Vienna State Opera.

Picture © Credits to iStock / JordiDelgado

A 150 years long tradition

This year on 25th of May, the Vienna State Opera celebrated 150 years since its first show, (Mozart’s "Don Giovanni") with the premiere of Richard Strauss' "The Woman without a shadow (Die Frau ohne Schatten)". Since its opening as the Court Opera, it was a leading European opera house that has seen many world premieres, and it is still the case.

Picture © Credits to iStock / pavel068

The building with the sad story

The opera house is located on the Vienna famous Ring Street, a circular grand boulevard surrounding the historical 1st Vienna district, built after the demolition of the medieval city wall and fortifications. Many large public buildings were erected along the street, and the opera house was the first major building to be constructed. It was built in an eclectic Neo-Renaissance style. However, it was not very popular with the Viennese, which influenced the architect Eduard van der Nüll to commit suicide. The other architect, August Sicard von Sicardsburg, died of tuberculosis, and none of them lived long to see the building opened in 1869.

Picture © Credits to iStock / TomasSereda

The Busiest Opera House

The Vienna State Opera repertoire is very colourful. It ranges from the Baroque to the 21st-century operas. This house is one of the most productive operas in the world with more than 50 spectacles performed every year. For instance, this year, five premiers are produced. Additional 10 ballet productions can be found in a repertory system. Many famous names have performed here - Plácido Domingo, Anna Netrebko, Luciano Pavarotti, Birgit Nilsson, José Carreras, Igor Stravinsky, just to mention some of them.  The Vienna State Opera has very good cooperation with the Vienna Philharmonic, whose members are recruited from its orchestra.

Not visiting the Vienna State Opera  when in the city, it is like you haven’t visited Vienna at all. This leading European opera house is a must for every visitor. Don’t worry if you are on a budget. There are standing tickets available for just five euros.  

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