Austria′s National Opera in Vienna - Part II
The refurbishment was supported by the Austrian public, but also through donations from private individuals and the Soviet Union. In November of 1955, the opera was re-opened with a production of Beethoven′s only opera "Fidelio". The Austrian public broadcast corporation ORF used the opening night for its first live transmission on TV - by then, there was a total of 800 TV sets in all of Austria.
In the years after the war, several artists that had been persecuted by the Nazis returned to the Staatsoper, including the legendary conductor Josef Knirps, who became hugely influential for the development of the Staatsoper′s post-war style. Today, the Staatsoper is an institution as popular and professional as it has been since its opening. Some 50 operas are produced every year; performances take place almost daily, 10 months a year. It is a tradition - started by the conductor and former director Herbert von Karajan - to perform operas in their original language.
Guided tours around the building outside the performance times are among the most popular tourist attractions of Vienna. To get a standing room ticket for a performance, you have to queue - no reservations, only one ticket per person, but 3.50 Euros make them a serious bargain nonetheless. The "Stehplatzler" ("standing room folks") are a tight community, famous for its ruthless boos and hisses, but also for their excited cheers after good performances.
Sightseeing & Activities beyond Vienna′s Opera
The Staatsoper is also actively engaged in the process of involving children and young artists into opera. Children′s performances are regularly held with introductions and explanations that make them suitable even for children at a very young age. On the academic side of a young opera life, the ballet school of the Staatsoper teaches classical ballet and other opera-ish skills. Laymen with a less intense interest might find the souvenir shop by the opera attractive or the nearby museum.
Here you will learn more about the Staatsopera′s status as a national institution. The independent magazine "Der Neue Merker" reviews every production of the Staatsoper and is very successful with an edition of 2,000 issues. The magazine′s website is a popular platform for opera aficionados. Famous singers from the Staatsoper′s ensemble are worshipped in Austria as national heroes - only skiing stars are more popular.
From a critical point of view, the affection that many Austrians feel for the opera is a testimony of the bourgeois tendencies that dominate the Austrian soul, or "cultural snobbery" as a friend of mine once put it. Nevertheless, every responsible tourist should a very close look at the "first house" by the Ringstraße.
Return to "Wiener Staatsoper - Part I"
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