Standing seats for Faust in the Vienna Opera House

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 27, 2008 in Travel Tips |

The famed State Opera House in Vienna, Austria.

The famed State Opera House in Vienna, Austria.

Some things are worth 4 euros - a little more than five bucks. Like watching a production of Charles Gounod’s Faust in the Vienna State Opera House - the preeminent opera house in the world.

For a 7 P.M. show last week, I was in line for standing tickets two hours prior - behind 70 people or more. In all, 200 hundred of us squeezed into a few rows behind banisters in the back of the 140-year-old legend.

A little more on the location from, considering the production was less than meaningful to me:

“As well as being one of the oldest in the world, The Vienna State Opera is the oldest and longest running opera in the Germanic countries. The Vienna State Opera performs over 50 operas and 15 ballets in their 300 day season. The construction of the original building began in 1863 and ended in 1869, however, during World War II, the building was ravaged by fire and bombs. The stage and the theater’s 150,000+ costumes and props were lost. The theater reopened on November 5, 1955.” [Source]

If you make it to Vienna, you have to do this. You can buy floor or box seats for more than 150 euros (190 U.S. dollars), but get the cheap seats. That way, even if you stay for a half hour, you can walk into that fine building and say you saw among the top opera in modern world knows. Yes, you’ll be cramped and you have to get there early. Wait in line along the left side of the building and be prepared for a lot of standing, pushing, closed quarters and crabby elderly people who are only there because their tour book told them to be there.

But, understand, Vienna is the world’s top opera town. Forget that while walking to the state opera house I passed where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791) was buried. Vienna also has the Vienna Konzerthaus, home to the Viennese Symphony Orchestra and the Musikverein, another classical music hub. All three considered among the top classical music concert halls in the world.

So, of course, you get top talent. Squeezed in the standing seat-area, waiting for the show to begin, I met a few fellow Americans - the place was crawling with them, a first for this trip. One was an opera hound and raved about the performance of Faust we were about to see, though the story was hardly one of his favorites.

Rather, he was adamant about our appreciating the fact that we were about to see performances from Roberto Alagna, a French singer of Sicilian descent and world renown, and his second wife, famed Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu.


Sean stayed back - not an opera hound like I mildly became after scoring regular cheap or free tickets for the Philadelphia Opera Company while a student at Temple University. I was spoiled by the Academy of Music, the oldest surviving opera house in the United States and - dare I say - truly a more beautiful hall than in Vienna, though its entrance, reputation and outside appearance is, fair or not, little match. But there are lots of reasons to take some time to do things on your own when traveling with friends. Don’t let anybody hold you back from seeing opera in Vienna.

Photo courtesy of Daphne.

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Oct 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Will visit austria soon :)



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