Why should you do a Vienna Opera Tour when you spend a night at the State Opera anyway? The answer is: you will miss half of the story. You’ll get the opera on stage, but not the story of the opera house, its directors, guests and visitors. I joined a little known opera tour for the full picture. Here is what I came away with.
What The Opera Tour Reveals
The building of the State Opera, dating from the mid 19th century, is an attraction in itself. Each foyer, the Emperor’s tea room, 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 (Richard Strauss, Gustav Mahler, Herbert von Karajan and others). The story why the opera was bombarded during World War II was both funny and tragic.
Finally, 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.
My highlight of the tour was going backstage, feeling the stage-fright as I faced the large auditorium, and seeing the hidden machinery that pushes each performance.
Insights From My Vienna Opera Tour
The stories heard during the State Opera tour have added depth to the way I see the opera.
- The opera foyers have turned from simple waiting rooms into fabulous historic halls;
- I’m using more of the opera’s off-stage activities (Opera Live On The Square; live streaming)
- I have started to read up on opera directors such as Herbert von Karajan;
- funnily enough, I have bought more opera CD’s recorded at the State Opera (they kind of take me on a virtual tour again…).
Tour days: Tuesday to Sunday
Timings: vary, usually between 2 and 4pm
Duration: 40 min
Tickets: EUR 7,50 (adults); EUR 6,00 (people aged 65 and over); EUR 3,50 (students and children)
My tip: There are a few guided tours at 10am 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 officially not necessary to book in advance though that is a good idea if you plan to visit Vienna during the main holiday season in the summer.
T: 0043 (0)1 514 44 ext. 2614, or ext. 2421
It 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.