Want an opera seat in Vienna? It’s 99.37% sold out

Want an opera seat in Vienna? It’s 99.37% sold out


norman lebrecht

February 15, 2019

From the bean counters at the Vienna State Opera:

Zusammenfassung der Ergebnisse 2017/2018 In der Saison 2017/2018 fanden insgesamt 402 Vorstellungen (Oper, Ballett, Kinderoper, Konzerte) und Eigenveranstaltungen (Matineen, Künstlergespräche etc.) statt, die von 608.955 Besucherinnen und Besuchern gesehen wurden. Bei den 292 Vorstellungen auf der Hauptbühne der Wiener Staatsoper wurde eine Sitzplatzauslastung von 98,03 % erreicht. Zehn Premieren (Oper, Ballett inkl. Nurejew-Gala, Kinderoper) und 66 verschiedene Werke (Opern, Ballettprogramme, Kinderopern) sowie zwei Gastspiele (Oper und Ballett) wurden auf- beziehungsweise durchgeführt.

Unter Berücksichtigung des Rechnungslegungsänderungsgesetz 2014 ergaben sich für das Wirtschaftsjahr 2017/2018 folgende Ergebnisse. Der Umsatz betrug T. € 48.882, die Basisabgeltung T. € 71.400, die aktivierten Eigenleistungen T. € 537, sonstige betriebliche Ertrage beliefen sich auf T. € 1.153 und das Finanzergebnis T. € 18. Ausgabenseitig fielen Personalkosten in Höhe von T. € 81.127, Aufwendungen für Material und sonstige bezogene Herstellungsleistungen von T. € 4.110 und sonstige betriebliche Aufwendungen von T. € 22.073 an. Die Abschreibungen beliefen sich auf T. € 6.857. Daraus resultiert ein Jahresüberschuss von T. € 7.822. Unter Zurechnung des Gewinnvortrages von T. € 5.083 ergibt sich somit ein Bilanzgewinn von T. € 12.905. Der Eigendeckungsgrad belief sich auf 44,3%.

Zwischenbilanz 2018/2019 Zum 15. Februar 2019 beträgt die Sitzplatzauslastung (Oper, Ballett, Solistenkonzerte) im Großen Haus 99,20% (nur Oper: 99,37%). Bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt konnten Einnahmen aus dem Kartenverkauf in Höhe von 20.500.437,45 € erzielt werden. Die durchschnittlichen Einnahmen pro Vorstellung belaufen sich auf 131.413,06 €.



  • Suzanne says:

    “Sitzplatzauslastung” should mean seats sold, but very possibly the Vienna Opera is using it more literally – “seats used”, which would include all artists comps, guests, sponsors. The word is tricky that way.

    • Hermann Lederer says:

      You are completely right! Never have been given so many free tickets, honorary tickets reduced tickets away than in the last nine years. They claim since years 99 and more % BUT the box office report is less than 82%! That is the reality in Vienna. Standing room (nearly 600) is every night at least half empty. After the first intermission is normal only 10% left.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Significant number of attendees every night are tourists from all around the world. The amazing classical music scene in Vienna would not be sustainable without tourism.

    • Robin Worth says:

      I doubt this

      If you want to get seats at the Staatsoper you need to apply online well in advance. You go on the “Standby list” and later you may or may not get an email that says “wir haben gute Nachrichten fuer Sie” You might possibly get a ticket at one of the shops around the corner if it is on display in the window. You certainly will not get a seat if Jonas or Anna (or other top star) is singing, unless you are very lucky

      Incidentally, the 98% figure refers to the Sitzplatzausleistung : I would guess that the Stehparterre is 100% sold for every performance

    • Tiredofitall says:

      By the same logic, the Metropolitan Opera ought to have a significant number of tourists every night. Percentage-wise, it pales in comparison. Vienna has about 14 millions tourist each year. New York City as about 62 million tourists each year.

    • Viola da Bracchio says:

      In what way exactly are ‘tourists’ separate from ‘genuine’ opera-goers? Do they somehow appreciate the performance less… because they are not local residents?

      Many world cities see the presence of an opera and ballet theatre as a keystone in their identity as major metropolises. Enjoying the glories of a fine opera (or ballet) performance is the highlight of many a visit. Making a commitment to engage with culture for an entire evening says something much more about visitors than merely gawping at some building facades.

      • Diane Valerie says:

        Some of us tourists plan our trips specifically around the opera season. If a production looks promising, we’ll visit the city.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          Absolutely. I ‘ve done that many times myself.

          I’ve also known other tourists who are not interested in opera but will attend the Vienna State Opera once while visiting Vienna. They will not necessarily do the same when visiting Paris or London or New York. In Paris they may go to the Louvre, while in Vienna they will not necessarily go to the Kunsthistorisches Museum. What percentage of total Vienna State Opera attendees are those tourists?

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            I was a ‘tourist’ when I lived there on a 12 month visa several years ago and I would have gone to many more operas but these were booked out. And the VPO was mostly playing heavily booked out subscription concerts; you could only get tickets on consignment from the VPO office on the Ringstrasse when people handed them in for sale because they couldn’t attend that night.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            Market forces at work…

            Back in my student days in the 80s, corruption was some people’s ticket for high profile classical concerts at the Musikverein (myself included!) and the Konzerthaus (my late teacher once casually mentioned she knew the ushers…). But concert tickets were surprisingly easy to find for the Wiener Festwochen, at least with early planning.

            At the Vienna State Opera tickets were easy to find for repertoire performances (many of which were not that good), but very hard for new productions or very special performances. I was extremely lucky to know a family with a member who worked at the United Nations. Bless them!

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Apples and oranges. No need to be defensive. No one is disputing the quality of the audience for opera (or ballet or theater). It’s just a matter of good marketing. Theaters make revenue estimates from both local ticket buyers and out-of-town. For the Met, it is more wishful thinking that reality. Whatever satisfies the budget numbers. It can be a science, if you have box office and marketing professionals with long experience (meaning decades). At the Met, that generation was retired, as was their knowledge and wisdom.

      • Lausitzer says:

        Yes: Tourists who come to enjoy the glories do appreciate the performance less. At Dresden this can be painfully obvious, also to artists who afterwards complained about the horrible Dresden audience. There have been descriptions of people just ignoring the singers during curtain calls, being occupied with looking around. And how horrified by the Zauberflöte and Traviata stagings they can be…

        Result was a decision to no longer neglect outreach and audience development, as it was the case at Dresden way too long. They do no longer rely on the money from these disinterested tourists but try a bit harder to get in real enthusiasts, existing and new ones. (Those who come from outside, perhaps even abroad, for certain performances of course fall under this category.) And at a glance it seems that Bogdan Rosic plans the same at Vienna now.

      • Michael in Missouri says:

        There are many, many packaged tours for people from the former Soviet bloc (the Baltic countries, Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc.) in which a company charters a bus, books a hotel, and pays in advance for tickets to some cultural events, including a trip to one of the opera houses. This means that a bunch of people, some of whom probably couldn’t care less about opera, end up in the audience.

        In my experience, this happens mostly at the Staatsoper and Volksoper, and not at the Musikverein, which seats fewer and is presumably easier to fill. Or maybe a current Vienna resident can comment more precisely?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Wrong. You have serious music-lovers confused with packaged tourists and those hawkers around Stephansdom who want to sell those ridiculous Mozart concerts.

  • Michael in Missouri says:

    Mustafa is right. One of the reasons they have the standby system is that tourist groups contract for certain numbers of seats, which then are released later if the companies can’t fill their tours. It’s a brilliant system. It creates the perception of massive demand and pretty much ensures that every seat in the house is sold. The tickets in the windows of the shops are usually from subscribers who can’t attend a performance and agree to have them sold at a loss.

    I’ve lived in Vienna and attended Staatsoper there more than any other house in the world and can confirm that the audience is not made up primarily of Austrians. I think people in other countries (the USA and UK) need to recognize this before making claims about how much Europeans love their cultural institutions. It’s not that the Viennese are crazy about opera. Many never go. It’s that they’ve devised ways like this to keep them alive.

    Und die Nummern oben? Drin steht a bisserl Wiener Schmäh…

  • Araragi says:

    If they are consistently 100% sold out, the ticket pricing is too low.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Er…that assumes that the aim of the opera house is to maximise revenue. This is a reasonably safe assumption in the US. But not in Europe where the public subsidy means that the opera house wants to do something else.

      Public subsidy usually means the aim is to ensure participation from a wide selection of society (regardless of income). Something similar to maximising seat occupancy.

  • JR says:

    If media are given tickets to review, and artists are given even 2 tickets each for guests, this must include complimentary tickets.

    They should be congratulated for turning the opera house into a tourist attraction, even if it is by selling hundreds of tickets for 4 euros every night.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      No doubt they run like a well oiled machine, but face it: they couldn’t pull it off without such beautiful building and Vienna’s reputation in connection with classical music.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    Just curious, how much is the Volksoper selling? When I go there, which used to be quite often, I don’t see many tourists. And I see enough empty seats, regardless of whether opera or operetta is playing. That in a much smaller auditorium.

  • observer says:

    Most houses in the German-speaking world aim for about 80% attendance — similar to the Volksoper numbers above. This allows for a balance between traditional and less popular innovative productions. It also insures that non-subscribers can get tickets at the spur of the moment. I like to go at the last moment and wish that the houses weren’t so often so full.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Except for the fact that when I attended Volksoper I saw mostly traditional works: operettas or popular operas such as Freischütz, Zauberflöte, etc and there were still empty seats and plenty of them.

      I would have attended less performed works as well – as in fact I did at the Staatsoper believe it or not, or elsewhere in Vienna – but nothing like this was playing at the Volksoper when I visited.