The Vienna State Opera House

The Vienna Opera House Megan Pease COR 330 “This famous stage offers a different program every day, with over 50 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per...

The Vienna Opera House

Megan Pease

COR 330

This famous stage offers a different program every day, with over 50 operas and ballet works on around 300 days per season” (Vienna). The structure of the opera house was designed by a Viennese architect August Sicard von Sicardsburg. The inside was designed by interior decorator Eduard van der Nüll. There is a story that these two men may have been lovers. Sadly, neither of the architects were able to see the opening of the opera house. Nüll committed suicide and Sicardsburg died of a stroke. Until the fall of the Habsburgs, the Vienna Opera House was called “The Vienna Court Opera” because at the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the birth of the Republic of Austria (1920) was when the name changed.

The Opera House is known to have a Ringstrasse style. The historical highlight of the Opera House is the Tea Salon, formerly the Emperor’s Salon. The outside of the building is “the original structure that has been preserved since 1869. The facades are decorated in Renaissance-style arches, and the veranda on the Ringstrasse side emphasizes the public character of the building” (Details). On the inside, as you walk through the doors, you instantly get a feel for the old Opera House. Franz Dobiaschofsky’s artwork is in the central entrances to the side boxes. “Also representing his work are the canvas paintings in the three arches, depicting the ballet, comic opera, and tragic opera” (Details).

 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” (Details). Bombings destroyed the Opera House on March 12th of 1945. After the war, there was a debate regarding what should be done with the destroyed structure. Julius Raab who was the Secretary of State for Public Works made an announcement that the reconstruction of the Opera House was going to begin instantly. However, the only parts of the Opera House that could be saved was the main façade, the grand staircase and the Schwind Foyer.

The Opera House connects to the learning concept from our class of Austrian identity regarding the “Habsburg myth” and “the Austrian idea”. Also it connects the idea of continuity between pre-war and post-war Austria.  The Opera House had a set of norms, such as the design of the building along with who was going to be opening the building, and who would be present. “On May 25, 1869, the opera house solemnly opened with Mozart’s Don Juan in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth” (Vienna). For Vienna, it was important and essential for important people to be there while the new Opera House had its grand opening. For Viennese people, this was an ethical value of their society at the time which connects with the western identity concept. With the concept of western identity, I thought of this as norms, ethical values, beliefs, and customs etc. The older version of The Opera House was the “norm” and custom of the newer version of The Opera House we see today for the Viennese culture. The beliefs of the people who were part of the reconstruction of the building, and the shows that were going to be preformed in the Opera, wanted the same feel, the same look and to have “like shows” to take place in order to keep the relationship between Austria and its culture the same. “The popularity of the building grew under the artistic influence of the first directors: Franz von Dingelstedt, Johann Herbeck, Franz Jauner, and Wilhelm Jahn” (Vienna). Though the Opera House was reconstructed, the first directors set the stage for how the Opera House would be. They greatly influenced how the Opera would be for decades to come. A post-war premiere showcased Fidelio, which was interesting to broadcast this type of show.

Today, Vienna’s Opera House is considered one of the most important Opera Houses in the world! The major reason is because it has the largest repertoire. It is still under the direction of Dominique Meyer since September 1, 2010.  The Opera House has a performance nearly every day for ten months of the year. However, when it is not being used for shows, they rent out rooms to the public which is only three or four times per season. It is a place where many tourists like to visit for its beauty, shows and experience. Now, the Opera House has other options for people who would like to be entertained. “In April, May, June and September, around 80 opera and ballet performances will be screened live on Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz in front of the opera building on a 50 m² screen – it’s classical enjoyment for free” (Vienna). Along with outdoor showings, they now have a live steaming option where selected operas and shows are streamed live online for viewers to watch. Though these alternative options are fantastic for people who cannot get tickets to be inside, the experience of waiting for those curtains to open and for a show to start right before your eyes, must be truly magical.



“Backgrounder: Vienna State Opera House — World’s Sacred Musical Arena.” Xinhua News. Agency – CEISAug 30 2008. ProQuest. Web. 30 Oct. 2016 .


Berg, Gregory. “Gala Concert: 50th Anniversary of the Reopening of the Vienna State Opera.” “” by Berg, Gregory. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016.                              


“Details – Geschichte – Wiener Staatsoper.” Wiener Staatsoper. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.


 “Vienna State Opera Information and Tickets.” Vienna State Opera Information and Tickets. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2016

“Vienna State Opera.” VIENNA – Now. Forever. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2016.



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