State Opera in Vienna, Austria

The Vienna State Opera was one of the first buildings erected on the Ringstrasse under Emperor Franz Joseph. It is still one of the most beautiful and best opera houses in the world.

The magnificent State Opera in Vienna is one of our top 10 sights in Vienna and one of the most famous opera houses in the world. Over 50 performances of the highest standard, both opera and ballet, delight audiences on over 300 days a year.


PICTURES: Vienna State Opera

Photo gallery: State Opera in Vienna

Visit to the Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera is bursting with magnificent ornamentation in the foyer, on the main staircase, in the Marble Hall, in the Schwindfoyer and in the Gustav Mahler Hall, Austria - © Lila Pharao / franks-travelbox
© Purple Pharaoh / franks-travelbox

The State Opera on Vienna's Opernring is located at the end of Kärntner Straße and is worth seeing not only for its performances. The magnificent façade of the State Opera already hints at the splendour that continues inside.

The red-carpeted house is bursting with splendid ornamentation in the foyer, on the main staircase, in the Marble Hall, in the Schwind Foyer and in the Gustav Mahler Hall.

In the course of guided tours, which are held in seven languages, the magnificent interior including the auditorium with its total of 1,709 seats can be viewed.

Tip: Shortly before the performance begins, one of the 567 standing-room tickets for an opera or ballet can be purchased at a reasonable price. Incidentally, according to the opera house, the best seats in terms of view and acoustics are in the Galerie Mitte row 2, seats 36 and 37.

Orchestra, ballet and children's opera

View from a box into the auditorium of the Vienna State Opera, Austria - © Lila Pharao / franks-travelbox
© Purple Pharaoh / franks-travelbox

The greats on stage leave nothing to be desired either. The Vienna State Opera Orchestra tours the world with its "spin-off", the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and is the only orchestra in the world that gives a performance somewhere in the world every evening.

The Vienna State Opera Chorus and the Vienna State Ballet also provide regular thrills in the auditoriums with their performances. Incidentally, for young audiences there are frequent performances of Peter Pan, Aladdin, Das Traumfresserchen or Wagner's Nibelungenring for children in the Children's Opera.

Tip: If you would like to attend a performance of the State Opera for free, you can visit the house in April, May, June or September. In the course of "Opera live on the Square", the events on stage are broadcast on a 50 square metre screen in front of the opera house.

Iron Curtain

Between the "iron curtain", an important fire protection device, and the auditorium is the orchestra pit, Vienna State Opera, Austria - © Lila Pharao / franks-travelbox
© Purple Pharaoh / franks-travelbox

The "Iron Curtain" is the name given to the fire protection device that has been between the stage and the auditorium since 1955. Every season, a different international artist is commissioned to decorate the gigantic curtain with a 176-square-metre painting that is attached with magnets.


Vienna Opera Ball

Every year on the last Thursday of the carnival season, Vienna hosts a special cultural highlight. Artists, politicians, entrepreneurs and other important personalities from all over the world flock to the ball at the Vienna Opera House amidst a huge media presence, making the Opera Ball the largest and most noble international meeting place in Austria.

With 12,000 visitors, the Vienna Opera Ball is the largest event in the country, where artists, entrepreneurs and politicians have a festive get-together. Around 5,000 visitors come from outside Vienna every year, half of them from abroad, which has also made the "Ball of Balls" an important economic factor for the city.

History of the Opera Ball

In 1877, the emperor gave his approval for the first time for an evening event in the opera house, at which, however, dancing was not allowed. After midnight, however, the guests no longer adhered to this and the festive gathering in the breathtaking premises of the State Opera House became a self-perpetuating event.

But it was not until 1935, almost 60 years later, that there was first talk of the "Vienna Opera Ball". Then as now, the Vienna Opera Ball is reserved for the well-heeled. Tickets start at 250 euros, the price for a box is over 18,000 euros.

Ball of the high society from all over the world

Visitors reach the boxes via the magnificent main staircase of the Vienna State Opera, Austria - © Javier Martin / Shutterstock
© Javier Martin / Shutterstock

Every year, the guests at the Opera Ball include famous personalities from all over the world, giving the evening a special, cosmopolitan flair. The ladies appear in long evening dresses and try to outdo each other with their magnificent designer gowns, the gentlemen shine in black tailcoats. The entire Opera Ball is broadcast live every year by the Austrian broadcaster ORF and 3sat.

In addition to the celebrity guests of the Opera Ball, the famous (mostly female) personality who accompanies the Austrian building contractor Richard Lugner every year for a high fee is of great media interest. Mortar's" guests of honour have already included Sophia Loren, Faye Dunaway, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Paris Hilton and Dita von Teese.

Date and schedule of the Vienna Opera Ball

The Vienna Opera Ball takes place every year on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and marks the undisputed highlight of the ball season in Vienna. The State Opera House is transformed into a grandiose ball setting within approximately 70 hours from Monday evening to Thursday evening.

In the opera hall, the audience chairs are dismantled and a scaffold is retracted so that the entire auditorium is united with the stage on one level to form a large dance floor.


On this the Opera Ball is opened every year by 180 couples in traditional black and white before it is released for all guests with the command "Alles Walzer". A quadrille follows at midnight sharp and at three o'clock in the morning, before the Opera Ball comes to an end at 5 o'clock in the morning.

However, dancing is not limited to the large dance floor, but takes place throughout the entire building, as the magnificent State Opera House is open to everyone during the Opera Ball - from the cellar to the attic. Numerous restaurants, an oyster bar, a champagne bar and a Heuriger in the Philharmonic Room will cater for the physical well-being.

Origin and construction of the Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera dates back to Emperor Leopold I, who founded the Vienna Court Opera in the 17th century, Austria - © Sergey Karpov / Shutterstock
© Sergey Karpov / Shutterstock

The Vienna State Opera dates back to Emperor Leopold I, a passionate musician who also composed himself and founded the Vienna Court Opera in the 17th century. Emperor Joseph II was also a great lover of music and friend of the world-famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

The Vienna State Opera was built from 1863 to 1869 and was one of the first buildings on the magnificent Ringstrasse at the time. The architect of the Vienna State Opera was August von Sicardsburg, the interior was designed by Eduard van der Nüll. The ceremonial opening of the opera house took place on 25 May 1869 with Mozart's opera "Don Juan", which was attended by the imperial couple Franz Joseph and Elisabeth.

In the course of the Second World War, the opera house was severely damaged by bombing. Ten years after the end of the war, the State Opera reopened on 5 November 1955 with Beethoven's "Fidelio".

In the meantime, performances took place in the Volksoper and in the Theater an der Wien, which was restored in no time at all. The reopening of the State Opera was broadcast on TV at the time and was seen by the population as a symbolic revival of the Republic. Today, works from the Baroque to the 20th century are performed at the State Opera.

Related links:


Official website of the Vienna State Opera with current repertoire
Guided tours of the Vienna State Opera
Streaming of selected performances of the State Opera on the Internet
Information on the Vienna Opera Ball including tickets and reservations