The city of Vienna in Austria is known all over the world for a lot of things but mostly for its classical music. You’ve heard of the Vienna opera house.
It isn’t a big surprise, though, as this is the city where the famous composer and musician Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born and made a name for himself through his music.
One of the most renowned institutions in this Austrian capital which has become a preferred venue for musical and theatrical performances is the Vienna State Opera or the Wiener Staatsoper.
Vienna State Opera House – History Information
This opera house was built in the middle of the 19th century and was previously known as the Vienna Court Opera. According to historical records, this structure was the first major building constructed on Wiener Ringstraße. Construction of this majestic opera house took eight years from 1861 to 1869.
Although slightly damaged during the late part of the Second World War, much of the building’s major sections were spared. It was later fully restored to its original grandeur in the same location courtesy of Ernst Kolb and Udo Illig, both restoration experts.
Erich Boltenstern also contributed to the restoration design after winning the architectural contest called for by Austrian Federal Chancellor Leopold Figl.
Eventually, the Vienna State Opera produced the Wiener Mozart-Ensemble in 1945 which became well known for its singing and playing of musical instruments. Two years later in 1947, the ensemble was already performing as a guest at London’s Royal Opera House. Today, the Vienna Philharmonic normally recruits new members from the Vienna State Opera’s orchestra.
Vienna Opera Schedule
In terms of performances, Vienna state opera is one of the busiest operas houses in the world. The cost of operations was estimated at 100 million Euros in 2008 alone. More than half of the cost is shouldered by the state government.
Each year, the Vienna opera house produces from 50 to 60 operas involving 200 performances. In addition, performance is scheduled almost every day for 10 months of each year.
Approximately a thousand people are currently working for the opera house. Half of the budget for the building’s operation is subsidized by the government.
Vienna State Opera Events
One famous performance in the city is Parsifal by Richard Wagner. An opera in three acts, it is said to be Wagner’s last completed work. It was conceived in April 1857 but was finished only after 25 years.
In 2013, it was performed throughout the year in honor of Wagner’s 200th birth anniversary. Mr. Welser-Most is at the helm of the orchestra. The Staatsoper orchestra often receives rave reviews for its excellent performance every time despite limited rehearsal schedule.
So far, there have been four versions noted in four different cities and a mini-festival that ended with a performance at the Staatsoper. The first production of Parsifal was way back in 1882 in celebration of the second Bayreuth Festival. For two decades, the festival monopolized the Parsifal productions.
In the 2012-2013 season, the Wiener Staatsoper announced a total of 53 operas. All are world-class productions worth every visitor’s time and money.
Vienna Opera Ball – Grand Chopin Event
Vienna’s main opera ball (the Wiener Opernball) was all set for a grand celebration of Frederic Chopin’s 200th birth anniversary. The 54th edition of this highly glamorous ball took a place in 2010. At the capital’s State Opera House featured musical and ballet tributes for the Polish composer.
For this grand exclusive event, there was a medley of opera arias and a show of elegant ballgowns. Organizers invited top performers and famous celebrities to the opening of the yearly waltz fest in the Austrian capital.
Chopin’s Scherzo Nr. 1 was interpreted through a performance by the Vienna and Warsaw ballet groups. According to choreographer Giogio Madia, this piece is an important link between Chopin and Vienna. That’s because it was conceived by the renowned Polish composer in the Austrian city.
Two performances made their debut in the Vienna Opera Ball. These included a piano performance of Chopin’s Scherzo Nr. 1 by the 1985 Chopin prize winner Krzysztof Jablonski and a ballet performance of the Minute Waltz by students of the Vienna Opera Ballet.
Vienna Opera House Tickets & When it All Started?
The Vienna Opera Ball is a major event participated in by the high society from different parts of the world. It started its live broadcast in 2000. And it continues to attract millions of viewers in Austria as well as around the world.
Additional highlights were a short medley of 14 opera arias performed by the Vienna Opera House’s top in-house soloists.
These arias are:
- Carmen by Bizet
- La Boheme by Puccini
- Die Fledermaus by Richard Strauss
Musical works by Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Lehar, Verdi and Wagner. On a lighter note, Lindsay Lohan was there (the Vienna Opera Ball) as well. She was invited (all expenses and a hefty fee paid) by Austrian real estate developer Richard Lugner. Lugner invites famous or not so famous starlets each year to go to the Ball with him.
Other actresses Robert Lugner has escorted include Sophia Loren, Raquel Welch, Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson. Also, there were Andie MacDowell, Nicollette Sheridan, Carmen Electra, Grace Jones, and Dita Von Teese.
If you had the money, this is one grand event you shouldn’t miss to attend. The ticket price was 230 euros while a seat at the top box cost up to 17,000 euros.
But don’t worry, today you can attend an opera night for much less. You can go for a beautiful Mozart and Strauss concert for around €55. But you can also opt for a classical opera with musical revivals of Strauss and Mozart and an optional dinner (ticket here). Share this experience with us if you are the lucky one to see a famous concert in Vienna!
Johann Strauss Attractions
The Strauss waltz is one of Vienna’s most popular musical compositions. Johann Strauss is the man behind this world renowned classical music. And although he may no longer be around, his music and presence continue to live on in the Austrian capital.
The Strauss family considered themselves 100 percent Viennese. It was Johann Strauss, the senior, who was responsible for developing the waltz together with his contemporaries.
Not many people know, however, that it was his son (the junior) who made efforts to sustain the musical form. As such, people all over the world continue to play the waltz until today.
It was the younger Johann Strauss who composed the world famous Blue Danube waltz. For those visiting Vienna particularly classical music fans, there are various places worth visiting that will remind you of Johann Strauss. The gilded statue of the musician in the Stadtpark or the Vienna City Park on Ringstrasse should not be missed.
Unveiled in June 1921, the statue portrays the composed in a standing position while playing with his violin. Also at the end of the park is the Kursalon where Strauss used to perform. The venue still holds concerts until today.
The Strauss apartment near the city center is another must-see venue. The place has been turned into a small museum where you can learn more about the Strauss family.
Or you can visit the graves of both the Strauss father and son which can be found in the central cemetery. You may also check out the city theaters where operettas are performed. Who knows, you might have the opportunity to find Strauss’ music being played there.
The Johan Strauss Ball
Vienna’s ball season does not only feature one major ball event. There are many of them targetted at different types of audiences.
One particular ball that honors a well known Viennese musician is the Johan Strauss Ball. This is normally held at the Kursalon Wien, one of the most exclusive buildings in the Austrian capital.
Established between 1865 and 1867, this Italian Renaissance style is where the Strauss brothers marked their major successes. The waltz ambiance was established here through the holding of dances and promenade concerts.
In 2014, the Johann Strauss Ball took place a day after Valentine’s Day. Four large rooms at the Kursalon Wien accommodated all the guests expected to enjoy an elegant evening as they are serenaded by the Viennese waltz.
Dinner was at the main ball opening scheduled at 9 p.m. After the opening, classical dance music from the past and present was followed by a dance workshop presented by professionals.
Johann Strauss is considered as the waltz king. Born in 1925, he is most known for his light classical music. Together with his brothers Joseph and Eduard, they conquered the Kursalon Wien and achieved their triumphs there.
Unknown to some, Strauss is also behind other dance forms apart from the waltz.
His other compositions are:
- the galops
He later discovered the operetta through his connection with Jacques Offenbach.
The Opera Ball & Celebrities
Vienna’s Opera Ball is the most prestigious, elite and well known internationally of all balls in the Austrian capital. Supported by millionaire mall developer Richard Lugner of Vienna, it attracts the high society every year and that includes celebrities in Hollywood and Europe.
In 2014, Lugner invited reality star Kim Kardashian as the Opera Ball’s guest of honor. Previous celebrities who have graced this international event include singer Geri Halliwell of the former Spice Girls, actress Pamela Anderson and actor Larry Hagman.
But more than the celebrities, many young ladies in Vienna, Europe, and other countries dream of taking part in this elite event. They are, after all, the stars of this prestigious event.
The Opera Ball usually opens with the introduction of 144 debutants and debutantes. They undergo weeks of intensive rehearsals for a dance performance that takes only up to four minutes. But since the event attracts a massive audience on TV in Vienna as well as in other countries, they need to perfect their dance.
This particular ball has been a tradition in Vienna and one that is accepted around the world. It is considered a rite of passage for modern debutante. To take part in it as a guest, however, requires some investment as a regular ticket can cost from 250 Euros to 1,850 Euros.