Ringstrasse Vienna: Wiener Staatsoper

Vienna Opera Tour: Exploring The Unsung Story

Why should you do a Vienna Opera Tour when you spend a night at the State Opera anyway? Well, if you don’t  you will miss half of the story: while you will experience the opera performance on stage, the opera house, its directors, guests and visitors have their own story to tell. To get the full view, I joined the Staatsoper’s official opera tour. Here is what I came away with.

The Vienna State Opera’s Unsung Story

Vienna opera tour: Emperor's tea salonVienna Opera Tour. To start with, the very building of the State Opera is an attraction in itself. And drama was already present when the opera was constructed in the mid 19th century. Because Emperor Francis Joseph criticised the opera house’s style, one of its architects committed suicide. 

Nevertheless, Francis Joseph received his own sumptuous tea room (photo), which you can see only during these tours.

Did you ever wonder why the auditorium and stage look so different from the lavish front entrance and staircase? When the Allied Forces bombarded the opera during World War II they destroyed this part of the building. Why the opera bombarded was a tragic mistake – from above, it looked like a train station.

Subsequently, the architects reconstructed the damaged interiors by sticking to the original box theater structure though with a more modern look and feel.

Vienna opera tour: backstage

In fact, each foyer, even the staircases and the toilets, have their story. I was surprised to see so many names of classical music celebrities on the list of famous opera directors: from Richard Strauss and Gustav Mahler to Herbert von Karajan and many others. 

Definitely, my highlight of the tour was going backstage. Exploring the hidden technology that pushes each performance makes you appreciate the opera far beyond its star performers. And yet, facing the large auditorium as I stood on stage recreated that prickly feeling some singers must still have.

How the State Opera Nurtures Local Culture

Vienna Opera Tour. All in all, it was good to get the full picture of the role the Vienna opera house plays today: how it knocks off the Vienna Opera Ball each year, what it does to enthuse children for the world of opera, and how it uses free live video screening in the summer, and live streaming to bang the drum for the world of opera.

Insights From My Vienna Opera Tour

Vienna opera tour: Gustav Mahler foyerVienna Opera Tour. The stories heard during the State Opera tour have added depth to the way I see the opera.

  1. The opera foyers have turned from simple waiting rooms into fabulous historic halls;
  2. I’m using more of the opera’s off-stage activities (Opera Live On The Square; live streaming)
  3. I have started to read up on opera directors such as Herbert von Karajan;
  4. funnily enough, I have bought more opera CD’s recorded at the State Opera (they kind of take me on a virtual tour again…).

Guided Tour

Tour days: Monday to Sunday
Timings: vary, usually between 2 and 4pm
Duration: 40 min
Tickets: EUR 9,00 (adults); EUR 7,00 (people aged 65 and over); EUR 4,00 (students and children)

Vienna Unwrapped symbol My tip: There are a few guided tours at 10.00 am on Sundays and public holidays which guarantee a visit of the opera’s backstage. Visitors are allowed to take pictures.

For further information on dates and foreign language tours contact the guided tours department. It is not necessary to book in advance, but do arrive some 15 min before the tour starts..
T: 0043 (0)1 514 44 ext. 2614, or ext. 2421
E: tours@wiener-staatsoper.at

Booking Opera Tickets

Vienna opera tour: opera ticketsIt is not half as easy to book opera tickets as it is to join an opera tour. Opera performances tend to sell out 98 percent. Many Viennese still have annual subscriptions.

I had been kicked off the official waiting lists several times until I found a better (and legal) way to grab just the tickets I want. Find out how to book opera tickets fast and easy.

Other Vienna Tours

Good tours fuel your city break with insightful stories. Apart from the Vienna opera tour, there are a few other Vienna tours that I think you will like. Most of them tell you the wider story of Vienna and its most famous sites and landmarks. Many of them are walking tours, but there are also car, bike and segway tours worth considering. Read more about my favourite Vienna Tours.

find our more about Wien’s other opera houses in Vienna Opera House
explore other ideas What To Do In Vienna
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