VIENNA STATE OPERA PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE 2022 OPERA BALL
At a press briefing today, the Vienna State Opera provided information on the current situation regarding the Opera Ball 2022.
The question of whether the Opera Ball can take place as planned on 24 February 2022 in view of the rising Corona infection figures was the focus of the press briefing at the beginning. The State Opera is in close contact with the Federal Government and the Bundestheater-Holding on this. Furthermore, it is being advised on all COVID-19 issues by a medical expert advisory board around Prof. Siegfried Meryn, with whom the situation will be reassessed on an ongoing basis. In any case, it is clear to all involved that the safety of the guests and staff is paramount and that the ball can only take place if this is guaranteed by an appropriate prevention concept.
A date for the final decision cannot be given at present. Besides the medical factors, an economic aspect will also have to play a role. After all, at a certain point in time, lost expenses would arise (for example, for cancellations of larger orders), which cannot be reflected in the budget of the Vienna State Opera.
Preparations for the organisation have been underway since the summer. In addition to the development of the security concept, this includes a new catering concept, alterations to certain rooms or discussions with suppliers. The auditions for the Young Ladies and Men's Committee have also already taken place.
Strict security measures and 2G-Plus concept:
Medical expert advice around Prof. Siegfried Meryn
Since the Opera Ball has special spatial requirements, there will always be a special security and prevention concept for the event that goes beyond the other security measures of the State Opera and applies to all ball guests and staff. In accordance with the current infection situation, this concept provides for the presentation of a 2G certificate (vaccinated or recovered) and, among other things, a negative PCR test taken on the same day or the day before. In addition to the 2G regulation, the State Opera is currently in talks with the caterers regarding the obligation for staff to wear masks. However, it may of course become necessary to adapt the safety concept at short notice due to new developments in the incidence of infection.
The State Opera is advised on all COVID-19-related issues by its own medical expert group, which has also evaluated other major events for the City of Vienna.
The members are:
- Univ.-Prof. Dr. Siegfried Meryn
- Priv.-Doz. Dr. Alexander Indra, Institute Director of AGES - Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety
- Univ.-Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl, Head of the Centre for Virology at the Medical University of Vienna, Scientist of the Year 2020
- Prim. Univ.-Doz. Dr. Christoph Wenisch, Head of Infectious and Tropical Medicine and Intensive Care Unit at the Favoriten Clinic
- Assoz. Prof. Priv.-Doz., Dipl.-Ing. Dr. Hans-Peter Hutter, Deputy Head of the Department of Environmental Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna
Great demand for boxes and tickets - Opera Ball almost sold out
Tickets for the 65th Vienna Opera Ball are sold out, as are tickets for the opening dress rehearsal the day before. The boxes in the auditorium are also sold out. There are waiting lists for the most coveted boxes on the ground floor and first tier. Stage boxes, which will be set up exclusively for the ball evening on the backstage, as well as a few table seats in various rooms are still available. Ticket, box and table prices are unchanged from February 2020.
The Opera Ball as a contribution to the Vienna State Opera's work with young talent.
The Opera Ball has a special significance for one of the most important projects of the State Opera, the opening up of the house to young talent, both in the artistic field and in the audience. It is therefore also a particularly important occasion for the newly founded Official Circle of Friends of the Vienna State Opera. All details about the Official Circle of Friends can be found at wiener-staatsoper.at/en/support-us/.
The Official Circle of Friends not only offers special events and access to the house and programme of the State Opera, but also the opportunity to support the work of the State Opera, whether as a private individual or as a company. The funds raised are strictly earmarked for the exclusive benefit of the Vienna State Opera's work with young talent, both in the artistic field and with regard to the audience. Here they are intended not least to introduce a new generation of opera audiences to the house or also to enable participation in art and culture for educationally disadvantaged groups or those at risk of poverty.
Membership in the Official Circle of Friends is possible in various categories and starts at 100€ or 50€ per season for young members. As a member in the »Donator« category, you also receive advance purchase rights to the coveted Opera Ball boxes in the auditorium. Thus, the Opera Ball is one of the most important fundraising instruments of the Official Circle of Friends.
Innovations in the organisation of the Opera Ball
The Opera Ball has its own significance for the Vienna State Opera. As a large celebration for over 5,000 people, as a television evening that was most recently watched by a total of almost 2.5 million viewers, and as an economic factor for the house. From the director's point of view, the organisation of this evening must therefore lie with the Vienna State Opera itself. A large in-house team, primarily from event marketing, building administration, technology and the press, takes care of the organisation. In addition, a committee supports us on a voluntary basis. The host is therefore the Vienna State Opera itself.
The members of the committee have special expertise in some areas central to the Opera Ball. They also contribute their extensive professional experience and contacts.
There is a decades-long connection between the Swarovski company and the Vienna Opera Ball: since the first Opera Ball in 1956, the tiaras for the debutantes have been provided by Swarovski. However, Nadja Swarovski is not on the committee as a representative of the Swarovski company, but as a proven expert in fashion and design with an international network.
She is chairperson of the Swarovski Foundation, a UK charity she founded in 2013 to promote culture and creativity, empowerment in society and awareness of environmental protection. She also runs the Swarovski Waterschool, which is active on six continents and teaches young people about water conservation. Both philanthropic organisations focus on the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
As Swarovski's first female board member, she led the branding, sustainability and licensing departments and launched the luxury fashion jewellery brand Atelier Swarovski. The collaborations and partnerships with international designers made her one of the most important promoters of design talent in the 21st century.
In 2016, Nadja Swarovski was made a Chevalier de L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and in 2019 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of the Arts London. She is on the board of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, the FIT Foundation and the German Fashion Association. She is a founding patron of the London School of Architecture, a member of the Nature Conservancy's European Council for Global Conservation and a member of the Advisory Board of Maison de Mode and Nest.
Birgit Reitbauer will be responsible for all areas of the Opera Ball organisation that have to do with food and drink.
For many years, the patron of the »Steirereck« restaurants has stood for the highest gastronomic quality. After her basic education at the Modul Hotel Management School (today Modul University Vienna), the trained tourism specialist completed her studies in business administration and tourism management at the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. She gained extensive experience in the catering company Do&Co before taking over the management of the Kurkonditorei Oberlaa townhouse.
The main restaurant »Steirereck« in Vienna, managed by her and her husband, has been consistently listed in the World's 50 Best Restaurants since 2009, this year in 12th place. It has been awarded five toques by Gault-Millau and 99 points by à la Carte and Falstaff.
Maryam Yeganehfar will support the orangisation team in the areas of event planning, interior design and programming of the individual locations. Since 2008 she has been the owner and managing director of the event agency yamyam event production in Vienna, a full-service event agency. Last year she founded her second company »MARYAM Commercial and Residential Design«.
Maryam Yeganehfar graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management and Marketing from Webster University St. Louis. Following her studies, she worked for two years at the media and artist agency William Morris in Los Angeles. Maryam Yeganehfar has been teaching event design and event management at the New Design University in St. Pölten since April 2013 and at the FH der WKW in Vienna since February 2020.
Katha Häckel-Schinkinger will represent the Official Friends of the Vienna State Opera on the committee to achieve the best possible result for the aims of the Friends at the Opera Ball. The Ball raises substantial funds for the State Opera's youth work, not least through the Circle of Friends. Katha Häckel-Schinkinger, together with other well-known personalities, will also advise the Circle of Friends on how to work with these resources, i.e. when it comes to using the money in a targeted and effective way to enable new groups to participate in art and culture as they wish.
The expert in communication and public relations has years of experience in social entrepreneurship, in addition to a degree in communication science and a master's degree in social management. Among other things, she ran the restaurant and catering business »Habibi & Hawara«, which she co-founded as an education and integration programme for refugees and migrants. She is currently in charge of communications and fundraising at Caritas Austria.
In addition, the above-mentioned medical expert group is available to advise the Opera Ball team.
The main contact not only for the media in the day-to-day work, but also for the committee in the implementation of its ideas and plans is the newly founded marketing department of the house under Susanne Athanasiadis, in which the event organisation of the State Opera and the press office are also bundled.
Bogdan Roščić, Director:
»Whether the Opera Ball can take place in February 2022 remains to be seen. But what is quite certain is summed up by the Viennese oracle Lotte Tobisch: The State Opera lends its soul to the ball for one evening - the Opera Ball is therefore one theatre evening among many. And theatre evenings, as we know, are all about what you play and with whom. That's why I'm delighted that such interesting and diverse personalities will be shaping the ball with us in the future, and hopefully under friendlier circumstances very soon.«
Nadja Swarovski, Committee:
»It is my pleasure and honour to be involved with the Opera Ball at the Vienna State Opera, which is an immensely important and valuable cultural institution.
I thank Dr. Roščić and absolutely support his plans to usher in a new era of the ball with a contemporary, open character and a new general relevance for society. I feel a strong connection through issues that have always been at the core of my work. These are primarily gender equality, social fairness and ecology, as contained in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to which we have aligned the Swarovski Foundation's efforts.
There are many ways to implement these principles at the Ball, and we are grateful to the Austrian and international sponsors for being an active part of this endeavour. Of course, I am very happy and satisfied to bring in my contacts in the international design and art scene to take the Ball to the next level in this respect as well.«
Birgit Reitbauer, Committee:
»The Vienna State Opera Ball is not only the highlight of the Viennese ball season, but also a very important factor for Vienna as a business location. Many visitors travel to Vienna especially from abroad for this event and not only spend a wonderful evening at the Vienna Opera, but also combine this with a stay of several days in our beautiful city and take advantage of the great cultural and gastronomic offerings.
The fact that this ball attracts great attention not only nationally but internationally is also shown by the fact that the »Opera Ball« has found imitators all over the world. The »Viennese Opera Ball«in New York and the Semper Opera Ball in Dresden are just two of them. The myth lives on and is carried into the world year after year.
For me as a member of the committee, it is a special honour and pleasure to be able to make a small contribution to the success of this extraordinary evening. After all, many guests of the Opera Ball are also regular guests of our house.
The aim should be to improve the tried and tested every year and to establish something new in order to provide the visitors of the ball with a varied and extraordinary evening.«
Maryam Yeganehfar, Committee:
»Breaking through long-established and familiar concepts; rethinking spaces; doing things differently and putting them in a new light - these are all reasons why I am excited and curious to take on this task. The opportunity to give the Opera Ball a new face together with extraordinarily talented and inspiring people is very exciting and fills me with joy. Staging spaces is my daily bread, and so far I have been allowed to develop and implement my concepts in numerous locations worldwide. But no location even comes close to the size and beauty of the Vienna State Opera, a mixture of different worlds, epochs and generations, and each space is wonderful in itself and unique in its common structure. As a designer of spaces and events, I can't imagine anything more beautiful than staging an unforgettable evening at this venue.«
Katha Häckel-Schinkinger, Committee:
»Cultural participation contributes to social cohesion in our society because it provides access to history, to traditions and cultural values. The task of the Offical Circle of Friends is, on the one hand, to inspire young people in particular for the cultural offerings of the Vienna State Opera and to enable participation, regardless of origin, education or income. And on the other hand, to expand the offer together with those affected and thus to sustainably break down barriers to access. Cultural participation and education enables participation, it contributes to educational equality, to life satisfaction in all its facets and is also an essential factor for the personal development of young people and encourages them to deal independently with artistic but also social issues. Cultural participation means social participation. That is why I am very much looking forward to this honorary task in the committee of the Vienna Opera Ball.«