One Day in Vienna, this Happened…
Traveling to Europe in August during one of the continent’s busiest times of year, you kind of assume everything is going to be open. Like the Opera House in Vienna.
Turns out, practically all of Europe is on vacation in August (hey, they want to experience those hypnotic beaches and islands in Croatia and Greece, too). This is something I knew before going, recalling former co-workers who had to work closely with an Italian cruise line being frustrated they could never get ahold of anyone to get answers on projects in August. Europe is on vacation in August. This is no secret.
But still…for some reason I didn’t see that pertaining to the workers of huge tourist hot spots.
Yet there I was, sitting at my computer a few weeks before my trip to Vienna, googling tickets for Vienna State Opera house, and finding a closed message.
Closed! The Vienna State Opera! In August! Perhaps I should have put a bit more research into this and figured this out before planning my entire itinerary for my upcoming Europe trip. I’m not sure I could have rearranged things to be in Vienna any earlier, but at least I would have given myself the option.
It was too late now, though, and it was becoming quickly apparent my daydreams of dressing up and attending a show at the famous opera house was not going to happen. At least not on this trip.
Switching Vienna’s Opera House for the Musikverein
Luckily, not all of Vienna’s performers are on vacation. The highly rated Vienna Mozart Orchestra at the Musikverein concert hall in Vienna had shows on the dates my mom and I would be there. I consulted with mom and we bought tickets.
The day we arrived in Vienna, we checked into our room at Aviano Hotel, poured a glass of local white wine and got ready for our big sophisticated night at the symphony. It may not have been the opera house, but the show at Musikverein did not disappoint.
The performers dress in traditional garb so are fun to behold even before they take their bows to the strings. And when that happened, the visual aspect of the performance fell to the wayside as my senses became overcome with the clear, beautiful melody of Mozart’s top compositions.
The first chair performer was hypnotic to watch, her body moving rythmnically to the music as she glided, sliced, brushed and picked her bow and fingers over the four strings of her violin.
For some pieces she stood up to do a solo, putting her whole body into the performance. Other pieces saw the welcome addition of an opera singer coming out to serenade the audience along with the musical instruments, their voices easily filling the long room and high ceiling.
The layout of Musikverein gives it an intimate feel thanks to an elongated concert hall that has chairs lining the center with two tiers of balcony seats on the sides. We were in the lower level of the side seats, elevated a few feet from the main floor, and though we were cramped in the large elevated box filled three rows deep with simple wood chairs, we still had a decent view of the performance.
The next day, we walked to the Vienna State Opera, just to make sure it was really closed.
A sign hung on the door informing passersby that the performers were on holiday.
I suppose opera singers need a holiday, too. Next time I’m in Vienna, though, I’ll be sure it’ll be when the opera is in session.
If you’re interested in seeing a performance at the Vienna State Opera or Musikverein (or both!) read on for some quick tips on visiting:
Vienna State Opera Quick Tips
What: Afternoon and evening performances of operas and ballets in Vienna’s most famous opera house.
Address: Opernring 2
Metro: Karlsplatz (U1, U2, or U4 Line)
Phone: 43 1 514 44 78 80
Cost: Tickets range from €8 – €250 with many price points in between, depending on where in the theater the seats are located. The lower priced tickets have a restricted view of the stage.
How to Purchase Tickets: Visit www.culturall.com and click on “purchase tickets” under the performance you wish to attend. There are also ticket offices in Vienna where you can buy tickets, but this can be risky as shows often sell out weeks in advance.
Note: It is important to know that if your dream in visiting Vienna is to attend a show at the Vienna State Opera, then you should not visit the city in July or August as the Vienna State Opera does not do any performances during this month.
Musikverein Quick Tips
What: A historical, beautiful concert hall in Vienna mostly hosting orchestras and opera singers, of which the most popular performances are the ones by the Vienna Mozart Orchestra, whose musicians perform dressed in historical costumes and wigs.
Address: Musikverein Platz 1
Metro: Stadtpark (U4 Line)
Phone: 43 1 505 81 90
Cost: Vienna Mozart Orchestra: €45 – €89; other performances have tickets starting from €5.
How to Purchase Tickets: Tickets can be purchased online here. Click on the performance you wish to see and choose your ticket by category. You can also purchase tickets at the Musikverein box office located on the left side of the Musikverein building on Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. (9 a.m. – 12 p.m. during July and August) and Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. plus one hour before concerts. For best seat selection, purchase your ticket online in advance.