Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) is one of the top opera houses in the world. It was built between 1861-1869 in Neo-Renaissance style. The design received heavy criticism at the time, leading to the tragic death of one of its architects.
The opera house opened on May 25, 1869 with Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) attended the inaugural performance.
During WWII, Vienna State Opera was bombed by allied force. Most of the original building, including the auditorium and the stage, was destroyed by fire.
Only the main facade
The grand staircase
And the Schwind Foyer remained intact.
The auditorium was rebuilt after the war. Due to safety reasons, the central chandelier was replaced by a ring of built-in ceiling lights made of crystal glass.
The night of the opera, I was a bit nervous. Vienna was the third stop of our twenty-day Central European trip. Instead of packing an evening gown, I brought a simple neutral colored dress. It turned out to be just right. The audience was the courteous and sophisticated crowd – passionate about music and opera. I thoroughly enjoyed their cultured and electrifying presence.
The opera was Verdi’s Nabucco – based on biblical stories of Jewish exiles by the Babylonian King Nabucco. The renowned Vienna Opera Choir delivered a solid performance of the famous Hebrew Slaves Chorus.
My seat – first row of a left parterre box – offered a good view of the stage and the orchestra. The chair was comfortable and the acoustic in the auditorium excellent.
The star of the night was the Ukrainian soprano Maria Guleghina as Abigaille, who received extended standing ovations at curtain call. Her voice – both beautiful and powerful – was presented with great easy.
A night at the Vienna State Opera was like a dream come true. To see a world class performance in such an opulent and historical setting reinforced my interest as an opera-goer and I look forward to visiting other opera houses around the globe.
Address: Opernring 2, Vienna 1010, Austria
Tickets can be ordered by mail, fax or on the internet. To purchase ticket online, click here.
Although a ticket at the opera in general is not cheap, it is possible to get a standing room ticket on the day of the performance for € 3-4. Tickets go on sale 80 minutes before curtain time at the standing room box office located on the Operngasse side of the building. Under the arcade, look for the sign that says “Stehplatz-Kasse | Standing Area”. Bring a scarf to mark your space.
Not interested in a performance? The opera house also offers guided tours in all major languages. Schedules are posted here.
Nabucco was considered to have permanently established Giuseppe Verdi’s reputation as a composer. The Hebrew Slaves Chorus – “Va pensiero, sull’ali dorate” was nearly adopted as the national anthem of Italy.
A Word about Food: When in Vienna, try to make reservation at the Michelin two-star restaurant Steirereck in Stadtpark. It is also No. 9 of the 50 best restaurants in the world. A trip to Tichy Ice Cream Salon is also an absolute MUST!