Marionette Theater Vienna in Schonbrunn
Foto/© Roman Gerhardt

Puppets Theatre Vienna Review: Marionette Opera Magic Flute

Puppets Theatre Vienna. Since the marionette opera in Vienna is fun and enchanting it’s a sure fire way for your children to enjoy classical music. When I introduced my kids to opera I took them to see Mozart’s Magic Flute at the marionette theater of Schönbrunn Palace. Her is our review.

The Puppets Theatre In Schönbrunn

puppets theatre Vienna in SchonbrunnPuppets Theatre Vienna. Tucked away in the former Imperial advisory council’s wing, Schönbrunn’s marionettes have a tradition of telling stories for more than 230 years. We went there straight after visiting the Vienna zoo in Schonbrunn, just crossing the palace gardens.

The marionettes themselves are made from Swiss pine and lime wood and wrapped in silk and lace. Definitely their artistic features and sleek bodies imitate theatre actors more than they do Punch and Judy characters.

Puppets Theatre Vienna: auditorium

With barely more than 70 seats the vaulted marionette theatre provided an almost intimate setting. When we arrived we treated ourselves to cakes and hot chocolate in the adjacent cafeteria, a lovely quiet spot.

Just a couple of years ago we saw the abridged Magic Flute marionette opera for children for little more than one hour. Now that the kids were a little older (10 and 13) we decided that time to go for the full length marionette opera.

Mozart’s Magic Flute Marionette Opera

Puppets Theatre Vienna. Before the marionette theatre started, Christine Hierzer-Riedler introduced her ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’. For decades, she had been pulling both the marionettes’ and the theatre’s strings together with her business partner.

Compared to a human, the marionettes were pretty small, just reaching up above Christine’s knees. However, once the marionettes owned the stage and the humans turned invisible high above they seemed to grow bigger.

Puppets theatre Vienna: Prince Tamino and animalsActually, there couldn’t be a more suitable opera for marionettes than the Magic Flute. Composed in the style of the Old Viennese Magic Opera (Zauberoper) the story addresses the triumph of love over evil magical powers. The bird catcher’s enchanted chimes and the prince’s magic flute lead through the plot, along with beautiful arias and speech songs.

Thanks to an ever changing scenery of forests, a castle, an Egyptian room, an old temple of wisdom and various cute animals the opera is highly entertaining and dynamic.

Puppets Theatre Vienna: Papageno and Papagena

Interestingly, because of excellent acoustics and total alignment with their movements the music itself seemed to pull the marionette’s strings. The most fascinating for us were the joint dances between two puppets, round and round, and without ever getting tangled up!

In between the puppet show we got a welcome 10 minute break to move our legs, have a drink and reflect about what we had seen so far. In total, the puppets opera took some two hours.

At the end of the show Christine invited everyone to look backstage. Between rows of marionettes from different shows we learned how the humans moved their marionettes, what it takes to become a marionette artist and how an entire show is produced.

Puppets Theatre Vienna: Tips And Information

Puppet Theatre Vienna: backstage tour

Vienna Unwrapped logo

Before you attend Schönbrunn’s marionette theatre read the opera plot summary together with your kids. Kids younger than 10 may appreciate the children’s shortened version of the Magic Flute more.

Location: When you enter the main gate of Schönbrunn Palace, turn left just before the main building. Pass a little courtyard to your left and you will find the Marionettentheater in the ‘Hofratstrakt’ side building ‘ just after.

Programme and Tickets: get tickets for Mozart’s Magic Flute at the marionette theatre

How to get there: from the city centre take metro U4 to Schloss Schönbrunn 

get ideas for what to do in Vienna with a Toddler

go back to Vienna Theatres
explore more about Schonbrunn Palace
get back to Vienna Unwrapped homepage

Check Also

Schoenberg Fundamentals of Musical Composition 1937-1948, Schoenberg Center Vienna

Arnold Schoenberg – His Life And Musical Style

In 2024 Vienna celebrates the 150th anniversary of Arnold Schönberg. The Austrian Jewish composer and …