Dominique Meyer leaves Vienna on a 99.38% high

Dominique Meyer leaves Vienna on a 99.38% high


norman lebrecht

February 13, 2020

The Vienna State Opera has published half-year figures for the 2019/20 season as its outgoing chief, Dominique Meyer, leaves for La Scala.

As of last night, the average occupancy of all seats for opera in the big house was 99.38%.

Beat that, incoming Bogdan.



  • A very good carrer for the french after Vienna he goes in the other most prestigious Opera house in the world before I supposed Paris.

  • Tamino says:

    Not trying to diminish his good management, but the relevant figure would be tickets sold at full price, not seats occupied…

    • Bill says:

      Arguably, rather than tickets sold at full price, the percentage of full price revenue possible achieved should be the metric. Selling out the house with a slight discount is better than selling a bunch of full-price tickets and having to give away the rest, even if the money that comes in is the same.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    The measure should be to fill the seats with (interested) butts. Without an engaged audience, there is no future for classical music, regardless of whether through ticket sales, government subsidy or contributions. In any case, bravo to Mssr. Meyer…lucky La Scala!

  • Artist says:

    The Staatsoper is in an abysmal state with constant regional-standard performances and glitterati. Ticket sales are high thanks to the scalper mafias, and unfortunately do not reflect the accelerated Artistic decline the theatre’s in. But sure, we can focus on a number…

    • Nik says:

      Fully agree. Plus of course the Staatsoper is firmly entrenched on the tourist trail, and the tourists will keep coming regardless of quality just to make a tick in their Lonely Planet. There is usually a sizeable contingent who don’t know or care what’s on stage and leave in the first interval after taking some selfies. Meyer has far too often fallen back on cheap, dated repertoire fillers at the expense of artistic standards.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Nik writes: “Meyer has far too often fallen back on cheap, dated repertoire fillers”

        All opera houses do this, it is how the medium is sustained.

    • George says:

      I don’t agree. Vienna has one of the most – if not THE most – dedicated audiences on this planet.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I will be very surprised if the audience numbers decrease in the future. The change may bring hopefully some rejuvenation artistically speaking. It would be good if Franz Welster M. & Bertrand de Billy do make a come back.

  • Bogda says:

    Thanks God he’s leaving. State Opera hasn’t been in such a dismal artistic state in ages (probably never). Roscic and Jordan can only make things better. Brining Tcherniakov and Castorf in the first season and a total of ten new production as Roscic mentioned in several interviews, is already more exciting than everything combined Meyer has done over his ten year tenure.

  • Jean says:

    And is it really something to be proud of when you know that a good 50% are tourists who are on their phones during the entire performance…

    • Tamino says:

      Now there is an interesting question:
      Why do tourists in Vienna want to go to the opera, but in New York they are not interested much?

      • Nik says:

        The tourist industry has always sold opera and classical music as an integral part of the Vienna experience. Look at any guidebook of Vienna and it will list the opera as one of the top 10 things to do during your stay.
        I think Vienna is unique in this respect. Cities such as London, Berlin, Paris and New York have an excellent classical music and opera offering, but they put different things on their top 10 lists for tourists. Of course, many tourists still go to the opera in those cities, but only the ones who already have some affinity for opera and actively look for it. In Vienna you get the ones who have no idea what an opera is but think that they need to ‘get it done’ while in Vienna. Many of them will end up in the hands of the touts in Mozart costumes who send them to some tacky concert, but still plenty of them make it to the Staatsoper.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          The tickets are also much cheaper in Vienna compared to New York or London. The prices in New York would make someone think twice before attending something they probably won’t much enjoy.

  • jean says:

    Because Vienna is one of the cradles of classical music (which is not exactly the case of NYC…). Thus going to the Wienerstaatsoper is part of the “experience”.

  • tze says:

    fake numbers.

  • Wienerhotdog says:

    99% in Vienna is not an incredible achievement…

    In Vienna doesn’t matter what you do, if it is classical music it will always be >80% full. Every seat not bought by a real musician is bought by tourists who don’t care what they listen to, just want to say they were in a concert in Wien.
    I have seen a group of 25 Chinese tourists enter and stay for the entire first half of a concert of mine featuring some really hardcore modern music for string ensemble. They just didn’t know or cared, just wanted the photo in the hall.
    Or go to the Stehplatz at the Musikverein or the Staatsoper… is always packed with tourists who don’t give a ***** about the performance. There are always long queues outside the Staatsoper to buy last minute tickets, and it is easy to see most people were tourists.