The central box provides an impressive view of the auditorium, which had to be completely rebuilt after the Second World War. The Austrian architect Erich Boltenstern (1896-1991), who was commissioned to rebuild the auditorium, retained the original form of the Logentheater – a theater with boxes - in the shape of a horseshoe, but with modernisations in the structure, materials, technology and decoration. Additional escape routes increased the safety of the spectators.
With self-restraint in the interior decoration, Boltenstern succeeded in giving the auditorium an almost timeless appearance. Only in the colour scheme did he follow the tradition of the imperial house: dark red, gold and ivory. Today’s chandelier, hung with 3000 kg of crystal glass, on the other hand, reflects the taste of the 1950s.
The auditorium has a capacity of 2284 seats (1709 seated, 567 standing, 4 wheelchair and 4 companion seats). Every seat and almost all standing places are now equipped with tablets, which allow the opera libretti to be read in different languages, among other features.
In 1998 the project »Eiserner Vorhang« was launched. For each season a top-class jury, independent of the State Opera selects a contemporary work that is enlarged to 176m² and attached to the Iron Curtain so that the original image of the politically questionable Rudolf Eisenmenger is covered.
The large-scale picture (176 m2) of Beatriz Milhaze's Pink Sunshine is already the 24th edition of the »Iron Curtain« exhibition series conceived by museum in progress (mip.at) and realised since 1998 in cooperation with the Vienna State Opera and the Bundestheater-Holding and can be seen until the end of June 2022.
Beatriz Milhazes (*1960, Rio de Janeiro) presented her works in countless exhibitions worldwide, including: Venice Biennale (2003), Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon (2012), Fondation Beyeler in Basel (2011), Fondation Cartier in Paris (2009), Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (2012), Museum of Modern Art in New York (2000), Pérez Art Museum Miami (2014) and White Cube Bermondsey (2018). The Museu de Arte de São Paulo and the Instituto Cultural Itaú in São Paulo jointly realised a comprehensive retrospective of the artist's work in 2020 / 2021. Currently, a large solo exhibition is taking place at the Long Museum in Shanghai. Beatriz Milhazes lives in Rio de Janeiro.
The »Iron Curtain« 2021/2022 is supported by: PRIVAT BANK of Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, ART for ART, Barta & Partner, Brazilian Embassy Vienna, Johann Kattus and Hotel Topazz Lamée. Media partners: Die Furche and Die Presse.
Since 1998 »Safety Curtains« have been realised by the following artists: Kara Walker (1998/99), Christine and Irene Hohenbüchler (1999/2000), Matthew Barney (2000/01), Richard Hamilton (2001/02), Elmgreen & Dragset (2002/03, Komische Oper Berlin), Giulio Paolini (2002/03), Thomas Bayrle (2003/04), Tacita Dean (2004/05), Maria Lassnig (2005/06), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2006/07), Jeff Koons (2007/08), Rosemarie Trockel (2008/09), Franz West (2009/10), Cy Twombly (2010/11), Cerith Wyn Evans (2011/12), David Hockney (2012/13), Oswald Oberhuber (2013/14), Joan Jonas (2014/15), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2015/16 and 2019 at the Opéra Théâtre Metz), Tauba Auerbach (2016/17), John Baldessari (2017/18), Pierre Alechinsky (2018/19) and Martha Jungwirth (2019/20), Carrie Mae Weens (2020/21).
The exhibition series »Safety Curtain« is a project of museum in progress in cooperation with the Vienna State Opera and the Bundestheater-Holding. In 2020 the project was kindly made possible by the Christian Zeller Privatstiftung. Additional support: PRIVAT BANK of the Raiffeisenlandesbank Oberösterreich, ART for ART and Foto Leutner. Media partner: Die Furche. Courtesy: Jack Shainman Gallery in New York.
The orchestra pit, located directly in front of the Iron Curtain, is disproportionately high, partly for acoustic reasons, and provides the musical home of what is probably the best opera orchestra in the world. Behind the curtain is the stage house consisting of the main stage, side stage, back stage and understage with a total area of approx. 1800m².