Vienna State Opera
Distinguished by a unique and diverse repertoire, the Vienna State Opera (Wiener Staatsoper) today is regarded as one of the world’s leading opera houses. In the unique atmosphere of the historical building situated in the very heart of Vienna, 1.700 seats and about 560 standing places offer visitors enough space to enjoy an unforgettable performance.
History of the State Opera – From a controversial construction to an admired cultural institution
The history dates back to the mid 19th century, when the Emperor Franz Joseph had publicly tendered the construction of the opera house. The basic plan was designed by the Viennese architect August von Sicardsburg while the design of the interior decoration was placed in the hands of Eduard van der Nüll. However, the two architects were not able to witness the opening ceremony anymore- too big was the pressure exerted by the Viennese population, who degraded the work of the architects and spurned the building as lacking in style. The sensitive Van der Nüll therefore chose to commit suicide; Sicardsburg suffered a stroke and died soon after his friend. In the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Elisabeth, the building which was constructed in the style of the Neo-Renaissance, was officially inaugurated finally on May 25, 1869 with the performance of Mozart's "Don Juan".
The Second World War and its consequences – Destruction & Reconstruction
A dark chapter in the history of the Vienna State Opera is the time of the Second World War, when many members of the opera house were persecuted out of their homes and murdered by the Nazis. Moreover, the opera house was also not spared of the numerous air bombardments on Vienna, so it took more than 10 years after the war to rebuild the building. Finally, the Vienna State Opera was glamorously re-opened with a new auditorium and modernized technology on November 5, 1955 with Beethoven’s “Fidelio”.
International reputation & recognition
During his time as Director (1956 - 1964), Herbert von Karajan established the principle of performing operas exclusively in their original language and began to regularly engage the world's best singers at the Vienna State Opera. This is one of the reasons why the Vienna State Opera finds itself among the best opera houses in the world today.