A Night (and afternoon) at the Staatsoper

Erica Spear
September 25, 2015

To live in a city where I am surrounded by so many opportunities to see amazing live performances is still astounding to me! This past week, I took advantage of this opportunity by experiencing the standing room line at the Wiener Staatsoper, or the Vienna State Opera House.

The opera is well-attended by many, with something happening almost every night. Tickets can be quite expensive, but the Staatsoper likes to make the opera accessible to all: they even broadcast certain productions live on a large screen, outside -- entirely for free. A less expensive option, though more time consuming, is to consider the "stehplatz," or standing room. Standing room tickets run for just three or four euro; the catch is that you have to experience a long wait.

Staatsoper Wien       Staatsoper Livestream

Accompanied by a few friends, I decided to go see a production of Verdi's La Traviata this week. We decided to meet up at 4PM (the opera starts at 7PM) and start our standing room line experience.

The standing room line can be located via an entrance at the back of the buidling -- you enter into a hallway where the line begins. Even with being three hours early, the line was already twenty people long, and everyone was very well prepared: people brought snacks, small chairs to sit on, books to read, and work to keep them occupied. We stayed in the first line for maybe an hour, chatting with those around us and using the time to get some reading done for our classes.

Once you get to the box, you are offered three options: Parterre, the most expensive at four euros, puts you at stage level. Other options are balcony-level, for three euro, but you are up in the nosebleeds. We opted for the Parterre, and quickly made our way into the opera house.

Before entering the parterre, you are held at another door until the clock promptly shows that it is 6PM. Once it is 6PM, the crowd is let into the parterre, where another staff member explains the procedure of reserving a spot: since many people cram into the parterre, you are to mark your spot with a scarf or some other item that ties easily around the arm rest. I later found out that they have almost 500 standing tickets available every night! We were lucky to get in as early as we could. 

Stehplatz Ticket

After marking our spots, we left the building and went across the street to pay a visit to the wurstelstand, where we bought kasekraner hot dogs (cheese sausages stuffed into baguettes.) It's not required to pay a visit there, but it's common among the Viennese to stop and grab a quick bite before heading in for the opera.
Kaskraner Hot Dog    Bitzringer Wurstelstand
At 6:40, we made our way back in to the Staatsoper for La Traviata. Even with the crammed space (which was very cozy) and the hours of standing time, every bit of waiting was worth the beautiful music, acting, and magic that we experienced in the theater that night.


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Erica Spear

<p>Erica is a senior at Appalachian State University, where she is double-majoring in Flute Performance and Music Education at the Hayes School of Music. At school, she is heavily involved in performing and teaching, at the university and in the surrounding area. Erica has a fairly global background, having family worldwide and being raised as a bilingual speaker (English and Japanese) but this is her first time abroad in Europe. She is looking forward to immersing herself in Viennese culture and embracing all of the art and history that the city has to offer. In her spare time, she enjoys running, yoga, cooking and baking, hiking, dancing, various creative outlets, and being introduced to new people and activities.</p>

2015 Fall
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Appalachian State University
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