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150 Years of the Opera House on the Ring

The Wiener Staatsoper formally opened on 25 May 1869 with Mozart’s Don Juan. The event was followed with excitement, not only by the public in Vienna but also outside the Hapsburg Empire. The opera house has remained at the focus of interest ever since. It has been an internationally important institution for a century and a half, and the concerns of the Vienna opera have always been matters of public interest to a degree unmatched by any other city worldwide.

However, the history of opera in Vienna did not start just 150 years ago, but much, much earlier. Accordingly these anniversary celebrations are not restricted to a single day at the opera house, but will cast a wide net and tell the story of opera in Vienna. The Wiener Staatsoper is using a wide variety of different vehicles to illuminate the topic: a symposium with top-class participants will take a comprehensive look at music theatre in Vienna from the baroque era to the present; two exhibitions (at the opera house on the Ring and at the Theatre Museum) and a number of publications will focus on the history and current artistic events in the Vienna opera scene; and on the anniversary itself, the artists and the opera house itself will be honoured.

The artistic programming of the season is also very much influenced by examination of the genre of music theatre in all its facets: a world première (Die Weiden by Johannes Maria Staud), a contemporary Staatsoper première (Orest by Manfred Trojahn), the première of Die Frau ohne Schatten, and an extensive repertoire all reflect key milestones in music theatre. With an anniversary CD box set, school and online projects, streaming and the inclusion of the federal provinces, the opera house on the Ring is setting new boundaries; and at an anniversary celebration on Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz, the Wiener Staatsoper opens its doors wide and invites everyone to come to the party.

After all, we want to celebrate not just the opera house on the Ring, but opera everywhere in Vienna! Celebrate with us!

Saturday, 25 May 2019, 10.00 a.m. | main stage

A birthday matinée on the morning of 25 May 2019 will pay tribute to the 150th anniversary of the house and its artists. Members of the Staatsoper orchestra, the stage orchestra, the Staatsoper chorus, soloists and children of the Wiener Staatsoper opera school under the baton of Frédéric Chaslin will present pieces by Mozart, Verdi and Strauss (among others). Dr Clemens Hellsberg will deliver the celebratory address, and Laetitia Blahout (15) – winner of the national student public speaking competition initiated jointly with the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research to mark the jubilee – will present her thoughts on the subject “… so what is the Wiener Staatsoper?”.

The event will be moderated by Ö1’s Albert Hosp.

The event will be streamed live on Ö1’s weekly classical music broadcast “Klassik-Treffpunkt” and Wiener Staatsoper’s Facebook page ( and website (

The programme:

“Frère! Voyez! … Du gai soleil” from Werther (Jules Massenet) | Maria Nazarova

“Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Peter Kellner, Andrea Carroll

“Avec la garde montante” from Carmen (Georges Bizet) | Opera School of Wiener Staatsoper

“Che faceste? Dite su!” from Macbeth (Giuseppe Verdi) | Female Chorus of Wiener Staatsoper

The scene of the Rhinemaidens from Das Rheingold (Richard Wagner) | Ileana Tonca, Stephanie Houtzeel, Bongiwe Nakani, Wolfgang Bankl

Lea’s father’s song from Die Weiden (J. M. Staud – D. Grünbein) | Rachel Frenkel, Monika Bohinec, Herbert Lippert

Overture from Don Giovanni (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Stage Orchestra of Wiener Staatsoper

Celebratory address | Clemens Hellsberg

“Dove sono” from Le nozze di Figaro (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Olga Bezsmertna

“Die Dame gibt mit trübem Sinn” from Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss) | Daniela Fally, Rafael Fingerlos, Pavel Kolgatin, Jinxu Xiahou, Wolfgang Bankl

String sextet from Capriccio (Richard Strauss) | Mitglieder des Staatsopernorchesters

“… so what is the Wiener Staatsoper?”– Address by the winner of the student public speaking competition | Laetitia Blahout

“Oh welche Lust” from Fidelio (Ludwig van Beethoven) | Male Chorus of Wiener Staatsoper

“Tutto nel mondo è burla” from Falstaff (Giuseppe Verdi) | Olga Bezsmertna, Andrea Carroll, Rachel Frenkel, Bongiwe Nakani; Wolfgang Bankl, Rafael Fingerlos,
Peter Kellner, Pavel Kolgatin, Michael Laurenz, Herbert Lippert, Herwig Pecoraro, Paolo Rumetz, Jinxu Xiahou, Orhan Yildiz


On the evening of 25 May 2019 -  the anniversary of its opening -  a star-studded festival première of Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten will take place. Together with his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Strauss, at the time director of the opera house, developed a fairytale, complex and psychologically discriminating work that received its world première a hundred years ago, on 10 October 1919 at the opera house on the Ring. Since then, Die Frau ohne Schatten has enjoyed a rich performance history and is regarded as a special highlight of Viennese and international music theatre.

Conductor: Christian Thielemann
Director: Vincent Huguet
Sets: Aurélie Maestre
Costumes: Caroline de Vivaise
Lights and video: Bertrand Couderc
Choral direction: Thomas Lang
The Emperor: Stephen Gould
The Empress: Camilla Nylund
The Nurse: Evelyn Jean Landry
Barak the Dyer: Wolfgang Koch
The Dyer’s Wife: Nina Stemme

Première: 25 May 2019
Additional performances: 30 May, 2, 6, 10 June 2019


The première on 25 May 2019 will be broadcast live on Radio Ö1 (+ EBU), and on WIENER STAATSOPER live at home.

The première and all subsequent performances will also be streamed live as part of “Oper live am Platz” at Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz.

Introductory matinée: Sunday, 12 May 2019, 11.00 am
with cast members of the première, moderation: Dr Andreas Láng and Dr Oliver Láng

Sunday, 26 May 2019 - 8.30 pm, Herbert von Karajan-Platz / Opernring – admission free

A festival for all: on 26 May 2019 Wiener Staatsoper will present a performance at Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz in the public area around the Wiener Staatsoper building (Ringstrasse around the opera house will be blocked off) with ensemble singers, international guest artists and the orchestra and chorus of the Wiener Staatsoper under Marco Armiliato.  The programme will cover the world of opera literature. The concert is free.

The programme:

“Dich teure Halle …” from Tannhäuser (Richard Wagner) | Nina Stemme

“Ha, welch ein Augenblick” from Fidelio (Ludwig van Beethoven) | Tomasz Konieczny

“Come dal ciel precipita” from Macbeth (Giuseppe Verdi) | Jongmin Park

“Va, pensiero” from Nabucco (Giuseppe Verdi) | chorus of Wiener Staatsoper

“Dove sono” from Le nozze di Figaro (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Olga Bezsmertna

“Fin ch’an dal vino” from Don Giovanni (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Erwin Schrott

“Là ci darem la mano” from Don Giovanni (Wolfgang A. Mozart) | Valentina Naforniţă, Erwin Schrott

“Pourquoi me réveiller” from Werther (Jules Massenet) | Benjamin Bernheim

“Glück, das mir verblieb” from Die tote Stadt (Erich W. Korngold) | Camilla Nylund

“O patria… O tu Palermo” from I vespri siciliani (Giuseppe Verdi) | Ferruccio Furlanetto

Duet “Già nella notte densa” from Otello (Giuseppe Verdi) | Roberto Alagna, Aleksandra Kurzak

“Song to the moon” from Rusalka (Antonín Dvořák) | Valentina Naforniţă

Final trio from Der Rosenkavalier (Richard Strauss) | Nina Stemme, Stephanie Houtzeel, Chen Reiss

Gremin's aria from Eugene Onegin (Piotr I. Tschaikowski) | Günther Groissböck

„Je veux vivre“ from Roméo et Juliette (Charles Gounod) | Aleksandra Kurzak

„Rachel, quand au Seigneur“ from La Juive (Jacques F. Halévy) | Roberto Alagna

 “Un bel dì” from Madama Butterfly (Giacomo Puccini) | Sonya Yoncheva

The “Jubilee Concert Outside the Opera” will be broadcast live on ORF III and ARTE and distributed worldwide by Unitel.

The Wiener Staatsoper offers also a free livestream on

» Livestream

(Subject to change.)

150 years of the Opera on the Ring
Thursday 9 May to October 2019, Wiener Staatsoper

The comprehensive exhibition “160 Years of Opera on the Ring” is a retrospective of the institution’s 150-year history. Original documents, loans and snapshots show a new light on artistic positions, personal histories and landmarks of the house. The exhibition crisscrosses the house, reflecting the history of an opera and showing concepts, social situations and the cultural environment that artists worked in.

The Pointe Dances.
Thursday 16 May 2019 to 13 January 2020, Theatermuseum (Vienna)

The essence of classical ballet at the traditional opera house on the Ringstrasse takes centre-stage of the exhibition The Pointe Dances. 150 Years of Ballet at the Wiener Staatsoper (May 16, 2019 - January 13, 2020) curated by Andrea Amort. In eight chapters it traces the characteristics linked with the history of the ballet company from the Emperor’s era via the 20th century until the immediate present: amongst them “Obligations owed to Aristocracy”, “Fanny Elßler – Role model”, “Viennese Dramaturgy” as well as “Paris & Vienna”. It also discusses the work of prominent personalities like Josef Hassreiter, Gerhard Brunner, Rudolf Nurejew, Renato Zanella and Manuel Legris.
The show is a cooperation with the Wiener Staatsballett.

Luxury volumes:

The Imperial and Royal Court Opera 1869
The reconstruction, 1945-1955

For the opening of the house in 1869 a limited luxury education was published with detailed studies and illustrations of the architecture of the new opera house. For the jubilee there is an exclusive facsimile reprint of this large-format volume. There is also a volume in the same format with designs for the reconstruction, available to the public for the first time.

Twin volumes: the history of opera in Vienna
Illustrated twin volumes on the symposium “150 Years of the Opera on the Ring”,
September 2018

The publication is based on the results of the major symposium in September 2018 and offers a comprehensive overview of the evolution of the music theatre in Vienna, described by leading cultural historians.
Molden Verlag, 864 pages, EUR 99,- (available in all bookshops, in the Wiener Staatsoper e-shop, the Arcadia Opera Shop and at

The people in the standing room
A love letter from the standing room at Wiener Staatsoper In numerous personal stories, former and current denizens of the standing room – from Zubin Mehta, Elīna Garanča, Piotr Beczala to Sigi Bergmann and Anton Zeilinger – talk about their experiences and great moments at Wiener Staatsoper.

Chronicle “150 Years of the Opera on the Ring”
The catalogue of the exhibition at Wiener Staatsoper will appear shortly.

The Pointe Dances.
Die catalogue oft he exhibition will appear on 15 May 2019.

Tear-off calendar “150 Years of Wiener Staatsoper”
In December 2018 a tear-off calendar appeared, with a daily story of Wiener Staatsoper, starting 150 days before the birthday.
EUR 18.50 (available at the Wiener Staatsoper e-shop and Arcadia Opera Shop)

In cooperation with ORFEO and Arthaus Musik, Wiener Staatsoper is publishing special editions of major recordings on CD and DVD.

CD box: 150 Years Wiener Staatsoper – The Anniversary Edition | ORFEO

The CD box set contains the following works:

Wozzeck (Alban Berg) | 1955
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Walter Berry (Wozzeck), Christel Goltz (Marie), Max Lorenz (Tambourmajor)

Fidelio (Ludwig van Beethoven) | 1962
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Christa Ludwig (Leonore), Jon Vickers (Florestan), Walter Berry (Don Pizarro), Gundula Janowitz (Marzelline), Waldemar Kmentt (Jaquino)
With kind permission from Deutsche Grammophon

Elektra (Richard Strauss) | 1965
Conductor: Karl Böhm
Birgit Nilsson (Elektra), Regina Resnik (Klytämnestra), Leonie Rysanek (Chrysothemis)

Le nozze di Figaro (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) | 1977
Conductor: Herbert von Karajan
Tom Krause (Il Conte d’Almaviva), Anna Tomowa-Sintow (La Contessa d’Almaviva), José van Dam (Figaro), Ileana Cotrubaş (Susanna)

Il viaggio a Reims (Gioachino Rossini) | 1988 | First publication
Conductor: Claudio Abbado
Monserrat Caballé (Madama Cortese), Ruggero Raimondi (Don Profondo), Ferruccio Furlanetto (Lord Sidney)
Claudio Abbado appears by kind permission of Fondazione Claudio Abbado

Tristan und Isolde (Richard Wagner) | 2013 | First publication
Conductor: Franz Welser-Möst
Nina Stemme (Isolde), Peter Seiffert (Tristan), Janina Baechle (Brangäne)

Eugen Onegin (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) | 2013 | First publication
Conductor: Andris Nelsons
Anna Netrebko (Tatyana), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Eugen Onegin), Dmitry Korchak (Lenski)
Anna Netrebko appears by kind permission of Deutsche Grammophon

Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss) | 2014 | First publication
Conductor: Christian Thielemann
Johan Botha (Tenor/Bacchus), Soile Isokoski (Primadonna/Ariadne), Sophie Koch (Komponist), Daniela Fally (Zerbinetta)
Recording in cooperation with Unitel

Un ballo in maschera (Giuseppe Verdi) | 2016 | First publication
Conductor: Jesús López Cobos
Piotr Beczala (Gustaf III.), Krassimira Stoyanova (Amelia), Dmitri Hvorostovsky (René)

Legendary Voices of the Wiener Staatsoper (2 bonus CDs)

ORFEO, limited special education – 1,500 copies (available from end-May at specialist retailers and Arcadia Opera Shop)

DVD box set: 150 Years Wiener Staatsoper – Great Opera Evenings | Arthaus Musik

The DVD box set contains the following works:

Il trovatore (Giuseppe Verdi) | 1978
Conductor and director: Herbert von Karajan
Plácido Domingo (Manrico), Raina Kabaivanska (Leonora), José van Dam (Ferrando), Piero Cappuccilli (Luna)

Carmen (Georges Bizet) | 1978
Conductor: Carlos Kleiber, Director: Franco Zeffirelli
Plácido Domingo (Don José), Elena Obraztsova (Carmen), Yuri Mazurok (Escamillo), Isobel Buchanan (Micaëla)

Don Giovanni (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) | 1999 (at Theater an der Wien)
Conductor: Riccardo Muti, Director: Roberto de Simone
Carlos Álvarez (Don Giovanni), Adrianne Pieczonka (Donna Anna), Ildebrando d’Arcangelo (Leporello), Angelika Kirchschlager (Zerlina)

Turandot (Giacomo Puccini) | 1983
Conductor: Lorin Maazel, Director: Harold Prince
Eva Marton (Turandot), José Carreras (Calaf), Katia Ricciarelli (Liù)

Elektra (Richard Strauss) | 1989
Conductor: Claudio Abbado, Director: Harry Kupfer
Eva Marton (Elektra), Cheryl Studer (Chrysothemis), Brigitte Fassbaender (Klytämnestra)

Lohengrin (Richard Wagner) | 1990
Conductor: Claudio Abbado, Director: Wolfgang Weber
Plácido Domingo (Lohengrin), Cheryl Studer (Elsa)

Alcina (George Frederick Handel) | 2010
Conductor: Marc Minkowski, Director: Adrian Noble
Anja Harteros (Alcina), Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero), Veronica Cangemi (Morgana)

Ariadne auf Naxos (Richard Strauss) | 2014 | First publication
Conductor: Christian Thielemann, Director: Sven-Eric Bechtolf
Johan Botha (Tenor/Bacchus), Soile Isokoski (Primadonna/Ariadne), Sophie Koch (Komponist), Daniela Fally (Zerbinetta)
Christian Thielemann appears by kind permission of Unitel – recording in cooperation with Unitel

Arthaus Musik, limited numbered special edition – 1,869 copies (available from 17 May at specialist retailers and Arcadia Opera Shop)

The systematic indexing of all performances (including those in the temporary quarters) and of all guest performances since the opening in 1869 and their transfer to a user-friendly online database on the website of the Wiener Staatsoper will be completed in May 2019. From then on, all performances including their casts can be called up at, including using complex search criteria by role/artist/date.

Saturday 18 May to Sunday 26 May 2019

To mark the anniversary of the Wiener Staatsoper, “Oper live am Platz” will be broadcast to the federal provinces during the jubilee week from 18-26 May 2019. From Bregenz to Eisenstadt, live Wiener Staatsoper performances and legendary recordings will be broadcast to key sites in the federal capitals daily (with the assistance of local city administrations and authorities) and presented on LED screens, including Il barbiere di Siviglia with Juan Diego Flórez, Andrea Chénier with Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, the premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten and the Jubilee Concert Outside the Opera on 26 May. Children’s opera productions will be shown during the day.


| Sparkassenplatz

Eisenstadt | Hofpassage

Graz | Landhaushof*

Innsbruck | Stadtpark Rapoldi

Klagenfurt| Burghof

Linz | Donaupark (vor Brucknerhaus)

Salzburg | Hof Dietrichsruh, Sig.-Haffner-Gasse 13

St. Pölten | Rathausplatz (Ecke Rathaus)

Wien | Seestadt Aspern*


* from 24 to 26 May 2019

As part of “Opera live on the square” (free live broadcasts of opera and ballet performances on Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz by the opera house) several performances will be shown during the jubilee week.

Details and dates can be seen on the Wiener Staatsoper website:


“A Gift from Vienna” – Public Viewing Event in Moscow, Zaryadye Park

Thursday 23 May to Saturday 25 May 2019

In cooperation with Wien Tourismus, four Wiener Staatsoper performances will be presented in Zaryadye Park on a video wall set in a reproduction of the Wiener Staatsoper façade.

The programme (Moscow times):

Swan Lake (Rudolf Nureyev – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)

Thursday 23 May 2019, 7.00 pm | Screening of the 2014 ballet production

Andrea Chénier (Umberto Giordano)

Friday 24 May 2019, 8.00 pm | Opera LIVE

The Nutcracker (Rudolf Nureyev – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky)

Saturday 25 May 2019, 2.00 pm | Screening of the 2012 ballet production

Die Frau ohne Schatten (Richard Strauss)

Saturday 25 May 2019, 6.30 pm | Opera première LIVE

Moscow visitors can take a virtual tour of the opera house with VR goggles and the Wiener Staatsoper 360° Virtual Reality Video “Opera in 360°” .

17 to 19 September 2019
Gustav Mahler Room
Free admission, numbered tickets (from 1 August at all ticket windows)

To get a clear understanding of the history of the opera house on the Ring and its performance history, we need information about the broader music theatre context in Vienna, Austria, and Europe. Taking baroque opera as their starting point, a symposium with top-class participants under the direction of Oliver Rathkolb will discuss the changing situations, forms of expression and context of music theatre (in Vienna). Who were the consumers, what was the political situation, what could be performed - and what could not be performed? What was the season policy of each director, and how was the opera house situated financially?

A number of lectures given during the three-day symposium will present an accurate picture of the situation of opera in and around Vienna - and well beyond.

 A second symposium is planned for May 2019. The findings of the session in September and additional contributions will be published in an illustrated two-volume edition.

Folder with the complete programme of the symposium

Topics at the symposium:

  • Herbert Seifert: From the beginnings of opera to Josef I.
  • Claudia Michels: Opera at the court of Charles VI.
  • Andrea Sommer-Mathis: From court opera to public opera
  • The early days of the Kärntnertor Theatre as an opera stage in first half of the 18th century.
  • Michele Calella: The end of opera seria and opera buffa, opéra comique and singspiel through 1815
  • Otto Biba: Suburban theatre, aristocratic and monastic theatre 
  • Clemens Höslinger: Opera from 1816 to 1869
  • Alfred Noe: The Italian art of writing libretti
  • Herbert Zeman: Development of the German language libretto and its use in operas from Mozart to Wagner
  • Irene Brandenburg: Ballet from its beginnings to 1791
  • Gunhild Oberzaucher-Schuller: Ballet from 1791 to 1869
  • Rudi Risatti: Set design
  • Otto Biba / Herbert Seifert: Orchestra
  • Clemens Höslinger: The directorships of Jauner, Jahn, Weingartner, and Gregor
  • Christian Glanz: The directorships of Mahler and Strauss-Schalk in political context
  • Clemens Hellsberg: Franz Dingelstedt, the Court Opera Orchestra and Philharmonic concerts
  • Oliver Rathkolb: Opera in Vienna under the swastika
  • Andreas Láng / Oliver Láng: Staatsoper directorships since 1945
  • Peter Dusek: Singers at the Wiener Staatsoper after 1945 and ““ the””  orchestra
  • Fritz Trümpi: The “reconstruction”  of the Staatsoper from the viewpoint of the exile (1945 to 1955)
  • Michael Kraus: The Wiener Staatsoper and musical Modernism after 1945
  • Oswald Panagl: The Wiener Staatsoper and the Salzburg Festival
  • Richard Kurdiovsky: The imperial and royal opera of Sicardsburg and van der Nüll
  • Anna Stuhlpfarrer: The reconstruction of the Wiener Staatsoper by Erich Boltenstern
  • Susana Zapke: The Wiener Staatsoper as an urban memorial and representational site since 1945
  • Oliver Rathkolb: The Wiener Staatsoper as an international and global icon of Austria
  • Stefan Schmidl: The Wiener Staatsoper and its media productions
  • Isolde Schmid-Reiter: Music theatre for children as a contemporary art form

From Friday 10 May 2019, in Austrian cinemas

The new documentary “Backstage Wiener Staatsoper” (Prisma Film 209) premièred at Wiener Staatsoper on 28 April 2019. Director Stephanus Domanig takes us behind the scenes in the film, showing us the people and their daily precision and team work and international opera stars at rehearsal, offering unique insights. Moments the public otherwise never see at the opera are brought to life.

The ORF (television stations ORF 2, ORF III and 3sat, as well as radio Ö1) and radio klassik Stephansdom are each dedicating an extensive programme focus and special transmissions to the anniversary of the Opera House on the Ring.

Benefit postcard sets with jubilee trivia game: “Opera from A-Z”
Tenor and ensemble member Benedikt Kobel has designed a postcard set for the Vienna Opera Ball with opera motifs, forming an opera alphabet spread over three years. The third and last set in 2019 covers the letters R-Z. Opera lovers can guess which piece is portrayed (the answer is on the back). In a jubilee puzzle for “150 Years of the Opera on the Ring”, the answers to operas X and Y can be written on a specially-designed postcard and sent to Wiener Staatsoper with a birthday greeting: the cards with the right answers will be entered in a lottery for an original drawing by Benedikt Kobel.

The benefit postcards are available at Arcadia Opera Shop, the ushers at Wiener Staatsoper and the information desk in the Kassenhalle der Bundestheater (Operngasse 2, 010 Wien) for a minimum donation of EUR 10 (1 postcard set) or EUR 15 (2 postcard sets) or EUR 20 (3 postcard sets). Printing is by courtesy of Druckerei Walla. All proceeds go to Caritas Gruft and Superar.

360° Virtual Reality-Video of Wiener Staatsoper: Beyond the Scenes​​​​​​​
To experience Wiener Staatsoper close up and from every point of view, visit the Opera on the Ring. Now, however, you can take a stunning virtual tour of Wiener Staatsoper with a virtual reality video. The solo dancers of the Wiener Staatsballett: and choreographer Eno Peci take you to the most beautiful parts of the house, including the roof. The viewer travels with the full-stage lift, and meets music everywhere, including with soprano Valentina Naforniţă. The 360° VR video by Wiener Kreativ Studios Junge Römer can be viewed on virtual reality goggles or smartphone. (open in the YouTube app for the full 360° experience)

The video will also be on display in the federal provincial capitals during the jubilee week.




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