Eat your heart out, Met: Vienna Opera sells out most nights

Eat your heart out, Met: Vienna Opera sells out most nights


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2017

While the Met plays one-third empty across the season, the Vienna Opera has reported 98.6 percent sales in its latest statistical briefing:

In the 2015/2016 season, a total of 394 performances was watched by 610,516 visitors. The 290 performances on the main stage of the Wiener Staatsoper achieved an average attendance of 98.59% of seating capacity.

Vienna Opera queue
Eight premières (opera, ballet, children’s opera) and 66 different works as well as two tours (opera and ballet) were staged. The total expenditure in 2015/2016 came to €114.8m, the subsidy by the republic of Austria amounted to €60.4m. Ticket sales achieved record revenues of €34.8m. Self-generated revenue amounted to 43.8%.

Interim result for the 2016/2017 season: As of February 27th, 2017, average attendance in the main house (opera, ballet, recitals) amounts to 98.84% (99.43% just for opera). Ticket sale revenue is €20,091,187.73. Average revenue per performance is €122.507,24.



  • MacroV says:

    Once again one needs to point out that the MET is twice the size of the Vienna Staatsoper, which since it also presents ballet I assume has fewer opera performances in a year. OTOH, New York is much larger than Vienna. How do ticket prices compare?

    • hans van der zanden says:

      Ticket sales achieved record revenues of €34.8m and a total of 394 performances was watched by 610,516 visitors.

    • Magnus says:

      3 opera houses in Vienna: Wiener Staatsoper, Volksoper and Theater an der Wien.
      Please remind me, how many opera houses are there really in New York?
      Yes, one. Yes, that’s right. If we really search we can really find one opera house in New York.
      What happened to the other one??? Bankruptcy due to a totally incompetent CEO that destroyed 3, 4 or 5 opera houses/ festivals around the world thanks to his egomania. Oh sorry, shouldn’t say that aloud. Yes, he was a total genius.

      Where is the problem, really: The market? Or the marketing?

    • Robert Holmén says:

      An average of 57 Euros per ticket.

  • Dominic Uglow says:

    There are as many people in New York City as there are in the whole of Austria.

  • Magnus says:

    Want to find the secret behind the success: Just find out what the subscription capacity (how much of the tickets are sold to subscribers) is in Vienna… In NYC it is catastrophically low.

    • Ilio says:

      Subscriptions are no longer the norm in the U.S. as folks tend to buy at the spur of the moment. It’s been an ongoing trend stateside.

  • phf655 says:

    My impression is that the Staatsoper is a ‘tourist attraction’ in the way the Met isn’t, because in New York there is competition from Broadway and other forms of diversion. I wonder what percentage of those many attendees in Vienna are from outside Vienna and outside Austria, how many of them attend only one performance, and what the corresponding figures are for the Met. On my rather infrequent visits to the Staatsoper I always notice a large number of seemingly wealthy Asian visitors in the expensive seats. I am always surprised by the number of people around me at the Staatsoper are tuned to the English surtitles, as opposed to the German ones.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Indeed. I personally have anecdotal evidence of tourists who were interested to attend an opera performance in Vienna, even though they were not music lovers and wouldn’t attend an opera performance at home or when visiting other music metropoles. The question is what percentage of the Vienna State Opera audience are tourists.

      • Ernest Low says:

        May I add that Asian tourists go specifically to the Staatsoper to enjoy opera performances as they may have not such performances back home. The Staatsoper is a mecca for opera lovers from all over the world, right up there with La Scala and Covent Garden. The Met may not be in that league.

      • John Borstlap says:

        I wonder what would be wrong with tourists attending opera in Vienna. Are tourists a priori not ‘serious enough music lovers’? How could we know? And how ‘serious’ are ‘regular opera fans’, and how could we know THAT? Once I spoke with one of the Staatsoper stage directors who said that he was amazed about the always high number of ticket sales – they did their very best on every production, but there is no way in which you can make sure the hall will be sold-out apart from, indeed, doing the best you can. So, whatever the composition of the audience, they are successful in drawing audiences.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          I generally agree with your thoughts.

          The discussion about tourists attending the Vienna State Opera came up as part of a comparison between the Vienna State Opera and the MET.

  • Steinway Fanatic says:

    Since the Met started their HD transmissions in movie theaters around the world, in excess of 20,000,000 tickets have been sold – an achievement that Vienna’s 3 opera houses together couldn’t match. Otherwise, this article reeks of an elitist-put-down of the Met, and it fails miserably because it compares apples to oranges: Different countries, different economies, different cultures, different histories, different sizes, different public, different (but no less impressive) records of achievement. So, why bother comparing?

    • Nick says:

      . . . and why bother adding in the figures for the Met cinema relays? Do these help the Met sell more seats? Given the figures from recent years, it seems they sell less seats! And given that the Met started its relays and built up the international organisation required for them many years before Vienna even started, what was it you were saying about comparing apples and oranges? Yes, the article is a put-down of the Met – and the Met deserves it!

  • JP says:

    People who vote George W. twice into the white house and now Trump prefer to watch Simpsons from TV and eat XXL meals from McDonalds instead of going to the opera, as opposed to civilized Europeans.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      I don’t understand how those generalizations relate to the MET.
      Trump received 18% of the votes in NY citywide; in Manhattan, only 9.82%. Even countrywide, he lost the popular vote by almost 3%.
      All over civilized Europe, the far right xenophobic parties are on the rise. Austria’s FDP has been a major presence for the last 30 years.

    • Marshall says:

      Yes, of course, that’s the reason, recalling that Obama was such a frequent opera goer and lover of classical music-I know one of his favorite pianists was Marta Agerwistwit

  • hans van der zanden says:

    I just checked, there are more than 20 cinema’s in Manhattan NY with Live in HD, quality is very good, and tickets are relatively cheap compared to Live in The Metropolitan.

    Vienna opera’s can be watched live (and on demand) on your computer.

  • Bogda says:

    Yes, Vienna State Opera is half the size of MET, but NY is 5 times the size of Vienna. And don’t forget, that some shows in Vienna would easily sell out MET’s capacity. Try getting a ticket to some of Viennese favourites like Netrebko or Thielemann, (and many more). They could sell several houses a night. And that has nothing to do with tourists. “Regular” tourists have no chance to get to those shows. Try that in NY. There is probably not a single show or artist that could guarantee sold out show.

    Btw. I know plenty of “tourists” from different countries, including myself who travel to Vienna just to see an opera (and not only at State Opera, Theater and der Wien is also very popular among us “tourists”)