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A Night at the Opera in Vienna

Maybe it’s due to the fact we had just watched ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation” where there is a lengthy action scene shot in the Vienna State Opera House (ranked as one of the best action scenes in the Mission Impossible series) or that it is one most famous Opera Houses in the world as proclaimed by National Geographic and Fodors to name a few, but we decided we wanted to spend a night at the opera in Vienna. We found a blog where we learned we could get standing seats for only €3! Click here for the how-to guide we followed.

To get these cheap tickets, you have to line up an hour and a half before the show starts. We waited about 20 minutes in line before being admitted. When buying tickets we had a choice between Parterre (€4), Balkon and Galerie (€3) for standing room seats and thought we would splurge on the €4 tickets. Big mistake, we should have read the blog a bit more – the Parterre is the area which tends to get the most crowded. Once in, we did as suggested and b-lined to our area to claim a spot (you tie a scarf to the rail and the spot is yours for the evening). However, all the rails in the Parterre were already claimed up which meant we would have to stand in the isles squished between dozens of others. I was disappointed to look up and see the €3 areas fairly empty; although they are further back I would have much rather been up there and had my own space and a screen to read from (the screens attached to the rails translate the Opera).

The Opera House looked way bigger in the Mission Impossible film, as well as from the outside (which is a beautiful building – see the header photo of this post). Once inside, the auditorium felt quite small; I remember being in the Orpheum in Vancouver and it felt much larger. Possibly making it less surprising that in the 2014-15 season, attendance was at ninety-nine per cent of capacity. The Vienna State Opera auditorium holds just over 2,200 people which includes almost 600 standing room places – meaning about only 1,600 seats. We had about an hour before the Opera started and decided to explore the building. This was definitely the highlight of the evening; just to enter the building during the day we would have had to pay double our ticket price for a guided tour. It was fun to watch the remainder of the guests enter, many quite dressed up, and have a drink at the bar before the Opera began. A few minutes prior to the show starting everyone headed towards their seats and this is when the Parterre started to get really crowded, we could barely move. Within one minute of the Opera starting I was roasting hot, cramped and uncomfortable. I was trying to read off the screen of someone nearby but the screens are tinted so only the viewer directly behind them can read. Needless to say, we didn’t last very long and snuck out the back.

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Before the show

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Performance about to start


The rest of our short time in Vienna can pretty much be summed up to the fact we had pink eye. At first, I just thought it was an allergic reaction I was having but I now realize that I had somehow picked up pink eye in Poland, and in Vienna, Dan got it too. Mine wasn’t too bad – I was annoyed at waking up with gunk in my eyes and sad I had to throw out all my makeup – but Dan’s got much worse (likely due to the fact that he wears contacts.) Dan opted to stay in for our one full day in Vienna and while on my own, I didn’t get up to much… yeah, you guessed it – I went for a short walk and ended up chilling in a coffee shop for a few hours. That evening was Halloween and while our airbnb hosts got totally dressed up and left for a party, we opted to stay in with a bottle of incredibly cheap wine and watch a movie on our computer. *I would like to point out that the €2 bottle of wine cost less than the loaf bread I bought and less than half the cost of my latte.

I couldn’t help but notice these adorable pedestrian crosswalk signals around Vienna. Instead of your typical lone man crossing, the signal depicts a couple (both gay and straight couples are used) with a heart between them. A bit of research told me they’re a relatively new addition to Vienna and were part of a move aimed at “setting a signal for openness and tolerance as well as focusing on raising awareness for traffic safety.”

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Our last morning in Vienna, feeling a bit better and noticing the beautiful weather, we couldn’t resist going for a walk around a portion of the Ring Road before catching our train to Bratislava.

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2 thoughts on “A Night at the Opera in Vienna

  1. Anna Jean Mallinson says:

    Too bad about the opera! Looking at the photo, I wonder which opera you missed. I’m glad you got to explore the building and watch the audience arrive. I remember pink eye! It can be so irritating. I’m glad it didn’t last long. That is a beautiful Gothic cathedral! The pedestrian signs are sweet, a change, as you say, on the solitary figure. (Nov. 11, brilliant sun for the outdoor ceremonies)

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