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The Französischer Saal

at the Künstlerhaus

In December 1926, the Vienna State Opera made history by hosting the first event specifically intended for children with »Peterchens Mondfahrt« (Peter's Journey to the Moon). Contemporary reports show that the public rightly understood this as a step towards openness, an invitation to an audience that had not previously had access to opera.

In the hundred years since then, much has happened: projects like the always awe-inspiring »Zauberflöte für Kinder« (The Magic Flute for Children) have become tradition, there have been temporary venues for children's operas, and since 2020, the State Opera has expanded its reach through the activities of a new Outreach Department. Numerous initiatives for young audiences have been launched, and for the first time in the history of the institution, an opera was performed specifically for teenagers. All of this is good and important – but in December 2024, we want to take the decisive next step.

To pass on the enthusiasm for the art form to the next generations – both in the audience and in the artistic talent pipeline – more space is needed, quite literally, than the most frequently used opera house in the world can provide. This work requires a permanent location, a real home – for experiments, for new formats, for inspiration: the famous green meadow where various things can flourish.

This meadow is the new venue of the State Opera, which will open in December 2024 in the Französischer Saal of the Künstlerhaus. A 250-seat theater with all the trimmings, including modern stage machinery, an orchestra pit, and additional rooms for smaller events. It is located just a stone's throw from the State Opera, in the Künstlerhaus on Karlsplatz, in direct proximity to the Musikverein, the Albertina Modern, or the Vienna Museum. Financed by a major philanthropic effort, a special grant from the Republic, by sponsors, and the support of our Official Circle of Friends.

This venue is a space dedicated entirely to young audiences – children, teenagers, and young adults – aiming to convey the fascination and impact of opera and ballet. In recent months, a dense program has emerged, which, even in its first (abbreviated) season, comprised 180 events as vibrant and diverse as its audience: opera and dance, participatory activities and new works, intergenerational and comedic pieces, discursive and curious offerings. A rich theatrical cosmos, not just for an audience of tomorrow, but for today's audience in all its diversity and variety. However, with such a new dimension of programming and offerings, everything is so distinctive and overflowing that we have decided to present the program of the French Hall in a dedicated event on June 18, 2024 – and to produce a comprehensive brochure. Like the one you are holding, it will be available for free at the Vienna State Opera and sent to all subscribers.

So, a little more patience – and much anticipation for a new chapter in the history of the Vienna State Opera!

Construction Updates

MARCH 2024

Planning, construction, organization, and coordination are underway, texts are being written, logo designs are being discussed, and small and big ideas are being realized. Details about the name and programming are currently top secret - but not for much longer! Before the summer holidays, we will unveil many of our secrets and reveal the name of the new venue, the productions on the schedule, and when tickets will go on sale. So, mark two dates in your calendar: in June 2024, we will present the name of the new venue and publish the schedule, and in December 2024, the house will be ceremoniously opened with the premiere of an opera for children aged 6 and above.

OCTOBER 2023

On the artistic front, much has happened over the summer: the score with which the house will open in winter 2024 is taking shape...

While the State Opera is on summer break every July and August, this doesn't mean that nothing is happening in and around the building during the summer months: maintenance work, repairs, facade renovations... all of this cannot take place during regular performance schedules.

There was certainly no summer break on the construction site at the Künstlerhaus either: work on the new venue is progressing rapidly. The walls on the ground floor and the staircase are already under construction, and the ceilings on the ground floor and first floor are being installed. Installation of the building's technical systems is scheduled to begin in November, and the basic construction is expected to be completed by the end of this year!

FEBRUARY 2024

Progress is being made at the new venue at Karlsplatz. In February, we reached a significant milestone: the completion of the structural work was celebrated with a topping-out ceremony. The construction of the new venue is thus proceeding according to schedule, and there are no obstacles to the opening of the house in December 2024 with a new opera for children! The elaborate construction and extensive technology demand a lot of manual labor and patience from the entire construction team - even for an experienced company like Strabag, building an opera house is not routine. For us, too, the construction is a matter of the heart, as we aim to create a place where the enthusiasm for the art form of opera and the magic of musical theater can be passed on to younger generations.

SEPTEMBER 2023

The building will include two basement levels to ensure a theater operation that meets contemporary standards. However, this should not overshadow the fact that much theater has already been performed in the same location, at the Künstlerhaus on Karlsplatz! In addition to many other institutions (most recently, "Brut"), the State Opera itself has been a guest in the Französischer Saal: even in the 1980s, the question arose of a second venue, as space constraints at the main opera house on the Ringstrasse were already evident. During the directorship of Claus Helmut Drese, the Französischer Saal was made available to the State Opera and was used from the 1986/87 season onwards as the "Staatsoper im Künstlerhaustheater" (State Opera at the Künstlerhaus Theater). Drese aimed to establish the Künstlerhaus Theater as a "seed for future growth in the main house" and opened the new venue on January 27, 1987, with the Austrian premiere of the chamber opera "Die weiße Rose" by Udo Zimmermann. In January 1988, "Jakob Lenz" by Wolfgang Rihm was also produced anew; this production was (for the time being) the last performance of the State Opera at the Künstlerhaus, in November 1988.

JANUARY 2024

The preparations for the artistic program are in full swing: In October 2024, the first rehearsals will take place on the stage of the new venue! Concepts are already being presented, design drafts are being handed over to the workshops, roles are being cast, and conducting assignments are being made. On December 7, 2024, the new venue will be ceremoniously inaugurated with a brand-new children's opera production!

Meanwhile, the new venue is still a proper construction site: the basic structure (including two new basement levels housing the dressing rooms, makeup rooms, and the orchestra pit) is complete, and now interior work is underway. The stage machinery, which will provide grand theatrical magic with the performers, is also being installed. From the photos, we can already get a glimpse of how this new artistic home will look soon, and we can hardly wait for the move-in!

Main sponsor Sponsor of the new Venue