The Vienna Opera House was one of the very first buildings on the main boulevard, the Ring. It was also one of the first cultural venues in the Austrian capital. The Opera House was built between 1861 and 1869 by the architects August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard Van der Nüll. They designed it in a neo-renaissance style that was widely criticised, including by Emperor Franz Joseph.
Taking in a performance at the Opera or in one of Vienna's many Baroque churches is one of the highlights of a stay in the Austrian capital. Classical music characterises the city's identity. Vienna quickly established itself as the crossroads of musical creation, blending diverse influences thanks to the presence of Germanic, Italian and Slavic cultures. In the 18th century, this richness was exacerbated by the presence of numerous composers, who lived or settled in the Austrian capital. Music is still very much alive in the city, and numerous concerts are organised throughout the year. If you want to step back in time, there's nothing like an evening of Strauss, Mozart or Beethoven. You'll be spoilt for choice, between the world-famous national opera house and concert halls (such as the Goldener Saal at the Musikverein). For dance enthusiasts, you can even combine concerts with dancing, by attending one of the 250 balls held in Vienna every year.
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The Vienna State Opera, an institution of international renown
Distressed by the negative feedback from the public, Van der Nüll committed suicide, and Sicardsburg died of a heart attack ten weeks later, which prevented the two architects from seeing their work completed. After some additional work, the institution was inaugurated in 1869 with Mozart's "Don Giovanni" concert.
Commissioned by Franz Joseph after the destruction of the city walls, the Vienna State Opera has become one of the most prestigious in the world and one of the leading opera houses in Europe. If you're on a budget, you can attend a performance by buying your ticket for between €3 and €4 on the day, provided you're standing!
How do I get there?
- Tram: 62 "Oper, Karlsplatz" stop / BB "Oper" stop
- Bus: 2A to "Kärntner StraBe" / N71 or N60 to "Oper, Karlplatz U" / N60 to "Oper, Karlplatz U".
Where to stay near the Vienna Opera?
Vienna Living ApartmentsWith city views, this 5-person flat has a balcony, bedroom, living room, flat-screen TV, kitchen with fridge and oven, and bathroom with bathtub.
It's also possible to attend a concert in a confidential setting!
Generally speaking, you can attend an opera almost all year round, with the musical calendar running from September to June. Most of the 'annex' operas have taken up residence in baroque halls that once belonged to hotels, or in theatres. If you want lighter fare, such as Offenbach's plays, you should go to the Volksoper or the Kammeroper.
For those in search of luxury and glamour, the Musikverein ("House of the Vienna Musical Union") is the place to be. Indeed, the large golden hall in which the concerts are held usually leaves the audience speechless. The ceiling, sumptuously decorated with mythological figures (Apollo and the muses), and the delicately sculpted columns in the shape of women are awe-inspiring. Added to this is the hall's acoustics, recognised as being of the highest quality by all music lovers.
👉 All tickets and concert dates can be found here.
So, shall we dance?
In France, 11 November is the date on which the Armistice is commemorated, but in Vienna it marks the start of the Viennese ball season. The event opens at the same time as carnival. Waltzes open to all are organised in the city centre. The real highlight of the Viennese ball season comes in January and February.
The Vienna Opera House, in particular, is home to the city's most glamorous, high-profile and expensive ball. The undisputed pinnacle of the social season, the OpernBall is an international meeting place for glamour, bringing together 4,400 guests, including heads of state and crowned heads, under the flashbulbs of the paparazzi in February.
Although the OpernBall is not open to the general public, you might like to consider attending one of the many other, more accessible balls held in the city, such as the Chimney Sweepers' Ball, the Confectioners' Ball or the Cafetiers' Ball (many Viennese balls are organised by trade associations).
Did you know?
In Vienne, each profession has its own ball. Chimney sweeps, hunters and confectioners have all given their trade names to the festivities.