You can find going to the opera in Vienna in almost every travel itinerary for the Austrian capital. It has been included in my bucket list since I first visited the city seven years ago. That’s when my fascination with the city really began and I promised myself that I will return to Vienna one day.
Well this day came in the early September this year when I had the chance to visit this city again but this time with my boyfriend. We knew right from the beginning that we must go to the opera house and see a performance. What we didn’t know, however, was that this would become the climax of our journey – the experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
So today’s blog post will be all about our experience – what to consider before arriving in Vienna, how to prepare for the performance, and what I will remember from that wonderful evening.
Before arriving in Vienna
What you need to do before arriving in Vienna is actually decide on which opera house you will visit and respectively which performance you will see. There are two main opera houses in Vienna – the Staatsoper (the State Opera) and the Volksoper (the National Opera). The main difference between the two is their size. The State Opera is the bigger building that hosts some of the most magnificent and famous performances. Because of that the tickets can become quite expensive. The Volksoper, on the other hand, is a smaller building but this does not make it less magnificent. There are some very famous performances that you can see only in the Volksoper so it is totally worth checking it out.
Speaking of the tickets, there are two main types that are available in both opera houses. The first ones are the regular seated tickets that can be purchased online in advance – for the Staatsoper these can vary from 57 EUR up until 215 EUR, whereas for the Volksoper from 26 EUR up until 92 EUR. The sooner you buy them, the higher probability to get from the cheaper tickets but bear in mind that these can have some sight restrictions. A detail that most people that do not know is that the two opera houses actually offer less expensive option – the standing tickets. You can see a world-class performance only for 4 EUR but you need to be prepared to stand for the whole duration of the performance.
If you prefer to buy standing tickets for the Volksoper, you can buy them directly at the official website just as regular seated tickets. For the Staatsoper, however, you can buy them only at the special box office at the Staatsoper building which you can find on the Operngasse side of the building, under the arcade. Tickets go on sale 80 minutes before each performance. There are no assigned places so your position in the line to some extent determines where you will be standing.
On the day of the performance
No matter whether you have chosen to go with seated or standing tickets, you need to get a bit earlier to the opera house. If you have seated tickets, 30 minutes should be enough – you need to present your booking code and you will receive your printed tickets. If you have chosen to go with standing tickets, however, you need to arrive at least 2 hours in advance. After you buy your ticket and find your way to the designated standing rooms, you can “book” your seat by tying a scarf around the chair. Only in this way you will be sure that your seat won’t be taken while you are taking a stroll around the building.
We were surprised to read that there is no specific strict dress code for the performance – you can see both men in suits and tourists dressed rather casually. Nevertheless, dress appropriately. For example, I was wearing an elegant H&M blouse that I paired with olive green H&M trousers.
Enjoy the performance
Don’t be stressed about the small details that you need to take into consideration before going to the opera in Vienna. This is a magical experience and you will enjoy it only if you embark on it completely. We saw The Magic Flute by Mozzart and I cannot think of a better way to get introduced to the opera tradition in Vienna. And if you don’t speak German, don’t worry – the majority of the performances actually offer English subtitles.
Have you ever wanted to see a performance in one of Vienna’s opera houses? Let me know in the comments.