Many of our approximately 70 Vienna theatres are among the most popular in Europe. Local theatres here range from traditional incumbents like the Burgtheater to opera theatres such as the Theater an der Wien, muscial theatres, and small but ambitious English language stages.
Consider attending a musical or contemporary play if your German is not up to speed. Below you will find a selection of the best theatres. I have ordered them not only by popularity but by relevance for English speakers.
The Theater an der Wien is actually Vienna’s newest opera house. One of the oldest Vienna theatres, it was built in 1801. 250 years later, in 2006, it adapted its repertoire and focus to become a modern day opera house. The theatre complements the sometimes hopelessly sold out Vienna State Opera (Vienna Opera House) in many ways: It stages performances throughout the year, i.e. also in July and August, when the State Opera is closed. It covers opera niches, dance performances and concert. The Theater an der Wien produces and stages many modern operas and brings classical operas into a contemporary setting, while also presenting rarely played baroque operas. Unlike the Vienna State Opera, each opera at the Theater an der Wien maintains the same cast throughout the various performances (stagione system).
Find out about current plays at Theater an der Wien.
The big private Vienna theatres like the Ronacher, our old variété theatre, and the Raimundtheater have been particularly popular in the past years. They are THE place to go if you are after fun musical entertainment in Vienna. Many of the shows project English surtitles onto screens, so you enjoy the musicals in original language while getting the full story. Between mid November 2016 and June 2017 the Raimundtheater will stage a musical about 18th century Vienna. Schikaneder deals with the turbulent love story Vienna’s grandest theatre impresario Emanuel Schikaneder. He invented and wrote Mozart’s Magic Flute. Access calendar and ticket booking for Schikaneder (with English surtitles).
Vienna Theatre Project
There is no shortage of classical theatre venues for the German speaking world in my city. But where does the large Viennese expat community stir their feelings on a theatre night out? The Viennatheatreproject is an English language theatre that stages contemporary plays and fresh invigorating acting. The small theatre’s team performs at Theater Drachengasse in one of Vienna’s oldest parts in the city centre. Go to Theater Drachengasse’s calendar of plays to find English language plays on show.
At my age, I have grown out of Punch & Judy puppets but love fine historic crafts brought to life. That is what the marionette theatre is about: classical theatre for adults (with separate performances for children), gracefully and skillfully performed by beautifully crafted rococo-style marionettes.
I watched Mozart’s The Magic Flute and was thrown over by the quality of the performance, the marionettes and the acoustics. My daughter was glued to her seat. A nice add on was that the small audience room and the backstage tour after the performance made you feel part of a real insider show.
Location: Hofratstrakt, on the left of Schonbrunn Palace
Tickets: Get tickets for Mozart’s Magic Flute.
The Burgtheater, the second-oldest theatre after the Comédie Francaise, has shaped European theatre for decades and has a reputation for classical as well as controversial plays. A scandalous Burgtheater play can create local news headlines that dwarf the most bloody wars and catastrophic events elsewhere in the world. With the annual Vienna Festival, the Burgtheater stages English and other foreign language plays.
calendar of Burgtheater performances.
Popular Vienna Theatres
Popular Vienna theatres like the Volkstheater (see photo) or Theater in der Josefstadt were the cinema of my grandparents and their generation, and continue to attract locals and visitors.
The Volkstheater was built at the end of the 19th century to stage popular Austrian plays and comedies as well as classic and modern dramas for the bourgeoisie and lower ranks. (The aristocracy amused itself at the Burgtheater.) Like a few traditional Vienna theatres, the Volkstheater managed to keep this mixture until today. Its current repertoire comprises works by traditional Austrian comedy playwrights such as Ferdinand Raimund and Johann Nestroy, which will resonate with many Austrian secondary school children – to adaptations of contemporary plays, such as Harold and Maude.
In addition, the Volkstheater has become hugely popular among Viennese insiders for its sophisticated Saturday clubbings, literature salons and musical performances at the Rote Bar, also called Salon Rouge (see photo).
Location: Neustiftgasse 1, A-1070 Vienna
Calendar of plays.
The Theater in der Josefstadt is one of the oldest Vienna theatres, and originates from the 18th century. It is built in the typical Viennese Biedermeier style. The theatre, where Harry Lime’s girlfriend Anna Schmidt performed in Graham Greene classic The Third Man, offers a broader choice of both international and Austrian plays, such as the Three Sisters by Tschechow, Arthur Schnitzler’s Das Weite Land or a Campiello adaption based on Goldoni’s play.
Location: Josefstädter Strasse 26, A-1080 Vienna