The structure of the opera house was planned by the Viennese architect August Sicard von Sicardsburg, while the inside was designed by interior decorator Eduard van der Nüll. It was also impacted by other major artists such as Moritz von Schwind, who painted the frescoes in the foyer, and the famous "Zauberflöten" (“Magic Flute”) series of frescoes on the veranda. Neither of the architects survived to see the opening of ‘their’ opera house: the sensitive van der Nüll committed suicide, and his friend Sicardsburg died of a stroke soon afterwards.

On May 25, 1869, the opera house solemnly opened with Mozart's DON JUAN in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. The popularity of the building grew under the artistic influence of the first directors: Franz von Dingelstedt, Johann Herbeck, Franz Jauner, and Wilhelm Jahn. The Vienna opera experienced its first high point under the direction of Gustav Mahler. He completely transformed the outdated performance system, increased the precision and timing of the performances, and also utilized the experience of other noteworthy artists, such as Alfred Roller, for the formation of new stage aesthetics.

The years 1938 to 1945 were a dark chapter in the history of the opera house. Under the Nazis, many members of the house were driven out, pursued, and killed, and many works were not allowed to be played.

On March 12, 1945, the opera house was devastated during a bombing, but on May 1, 1945, the “State Opera in the Volksoper” opened with a performance of Mozart's THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO. On October 6, 1945, the hastily restored “Theaters an der Wien” reopened with Beethoven's FIDELIO. For the next ten years the Vienna State Opera operated in two venues while the true headquarters was being rebuilt at a great expense

The Secretary of State for Public Works, Julius Raab, announced on May 24, 1945, that reconstruction of the Vienna State Opera would begin immediately. Only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer had been spared from the bombs. On November 5, 1955, the Vienna State Opera reopened with a new auditorium and modernized technology. Under the direction of Karl Böhm, Beethoven’s FIDELIO was brilliantly performed, and the opening ceremonies were broadcast by Austrian television. The whole world understood that life was beginning again for this country that had just regained its independence.

Today, the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world; in particular, it is the house with the largest repertoire. It has been under the direction of Dominique Meyer since September 1, 2010.

Reconstruction of the Wiener Staatsoper after World War II
All directors

Franz von Dingelstedt: 01.07.1867 - 18.12.1870
Johann von Herbeck: 19.12.1870 - 30.04.1875
Franz von Jauner: 01.05.1875 - 18.06.1880
Karl Mayerhofer, Gustav Walter und Emil Scaria: 19.06.1880 - 31.12.1880
Wilhelm Jahn: 01.01.1881 - 14.10.1897
Gustav Mahler: 15.10.1897 - 31.12.1907
Felix von Weingartner: 01.01.1908 - 28.02.1911
Hans Gregor: 01.03.1911 - 14.11.1918
Franz Schalk: 15.11.1918 - 15.08.1919
Richard Strauss / Franz Schalk: 16.08.1919 - 31.10.1924
Franz Schalk: 01.11.1924 - 31.08.1929
Clemens Krauss: 01.09.1929 - 15.12.1934
Felix von Weingartner: 01.01.1935 - 31.08.1936
Erwin Kerber: 01.09.1936 - 31.08.1940
Heinrich K. Strohm: 01.09.1940 - 19.04.1941
Walter Thomas: 01.02.1941 - 19.04.1941
Ernst August Schneider: 20.04.1941 - 28.02.1943
Karl Böhm: 01.03.1943 - 30.04.1945
Alfred Jerger (in der Volksoper): 01.05.1945 - 31.07.1945
Hermann Juch (in der Volksoper): 01.09.1946 - 04.11.1955
Franz Salmhofer (im Theater an der Wien): 18.06.1945 - 31.08.1955
Karl Böhm: 01.09.1954 - 31.08.1956
Herbert von Karajan: 01.09.1956 - 31.03.1962
Herbert von Karajan / Walter Erich Schäfer: 01.04.1962 - 08.06.1963
Herbert von Karajan / Egon Hilbert: 09.06.1963 - 31.08.1964
Egon Hilbert: 01.09.1964 - 18.01.1968
Heinrich Reif-Gintl: 19.01.1968 - 31.08.1972
Rudolf Gamsjäger: 01.09.1972 - 31.08.1976
Egon Seefehlner: 01.09.1976 - 31.08.1982
Lorin Maazel: 01.09.1982- 31.08.1984
Egon Seefehlner: 01.09.1984 - 31.08.1986
Claus Helmut Drese: 01.09.1986 - 31.08.1991
Eberhard Waechter: 01.09.1991 - 29.03.1992
Ioan Holender: 01.04.1992 - 31.08.2010
Dominique Meyer seit 1.09.2010