Volksoper Vienna. Dear opera and theater lovers, what about looking behind the scenes and exploring Wien’s popular operetta genre? Watching an operetta musical at a Vienna theatre like Volksoper entertains and enlightens in a very local way. Ever since I could think my late grandparents and their friends raved about this popular Wiener opera house. Now also my generation rediscovers operetta musicals. I guess sometimes we prefer the light muse to reconnect us with our past.
Recently, I watched Strauss’ operetta Die Fledermaus with English surtitles there with a friend of mine. Before I share my story here is what to see at Volksoper.
Operetta Musicals At Volksoper Vienna
Certainly Volksoper is THE place to watch the best operettas. Almost throughout the year, except July and August, this Vienna theatre stages a good mix of Strauss operettas such as Die Fledermaus (The Bat) and Eine Nacht in Venedig (A Night in Venice), Die Lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow, see photo) by Franz Lehar, Karl Millöcker’s Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student) and Franz von Suppé’s Leichte Kavallerie (Light Cavalry).
The good news is that you don’t need to understand German to have a laugh: The operettas have brilliant English surtitles. Most operettas last between two and two and a half hours and include at least one break.
Apart from traditional operettas, Volksoper is also a good place to watch contemporary musicals, operas such as Mozart’s Magic Flute, and various song recitals.
Watching Strauss Operetta Die Fledermaus
On an icy February evening my Viennese friend Sandra and I returned to Volksoper to watch Johann Strauss‘ Die Fledermaus (The Bat), my favourite operetta. On one side, the story is a simple comedy of errors loaded with jokes. On the other side, you gain insight into 19th century Viennese society when the Habsburg Emperors still ruled.
For example, one of the main characters needs to go to prison – for having verbally insulted an official… Quickly, the ‘Hausfreund’ (friend of the house, aka housewife’s lover) takes his place. The story climaxes in a glittering masked ball at the mansion of a Russian count living the good life in the Empire.
At the end, the main character starts his prison sentence, accompanied by a cheerful crowd. Their song ‘Glücklich ist, wer vergisst, was doch nicht zu ändern ist…’ (‘Happy those who forget what can’t be changed…’) has become a well-known saying in the Austrian vocabulary. Is there a reference to the crumbling Austro-Hungarian Empire?
By the way, the title ‘The Bat’ references notary Dr. Falke, who had been disgraced in his bat costume at a previous costume ball. Now he takes revenge by exposing the social intrigues of his enemy and the latter’s loved ones’. Interestingly, in the prison scene, you get a few hints of the political situation in that era as the prison ward reads out the day’s newspaper headlines.
Although I’m a German native speaker I kept reading the English surtitles whenever I couldn’t make sense of the sung German. Definitely, the Fledermaus in English was brilliantly translated and the puns masterfully transposed. Since the surtitles run on a digital band right above the stage you can easily follow the plot at the same time.
A few words on our seating: Sandra and I had booked box tickets to celebrate the occasion. It felt so special to have our own little space that we just shared with another couple. When you purchase box tickets you sit right next to the stage and orchestra. On top, you don’t have to queue at the cloak room since you can take your coat with you.
Although the operetta takes a full 2.5 hours you get a decent break in between. If you didn’t have time for dinner before the buffet serves warm snacks and sandwiches, wine, prosecco and non alcoholic drinks.
As for us, we enjoyed a post dinner bite while soaking up the atmosphere of the beautifully decorated historic foyer. Besides, we always love spotting Viennese celebrities around. On that evening, we landed a double hit, discovering the former editor of a top Austrian daily and a local actor.
Volksoper Vienna Tickets And Other Information
Address: Währinger Strasse 78, 1090 Vienna
If you take tickets in the parterre or balcony box’ front row you pay the prime rate. However, since Volksoper Vienna tickets are cheaper than state opera tickets I think it’s worth it.
How to get there: take tramways 40, 41 or 42 from Ringstrasse station at Schottentor for a 10 min ride; alternatively, metro line U6 is around the corner;
Scene from Die Fledermaus
Volksoper Vienna. This is a typical scene and song from Die Fledermaus where house maid Adele recognises her disguised boss Eisenstein at the masked ball.