Vienna Opera will reopen next week

Vienna Opera will reopen next week


norman lebrecht

June 03, 2020

The house has just announced it will reopen with a series of Lieder recitals:

Günther Groissböck (June 8)

Tomasz Konieczny (June 11)

Camilla Nylund (June 15),

Michael Schade (June 18),

Juan Diego Flórez (June 20) and Krassimira Stoyanova (June 25).

There will also be chamber music concerts by members of the house orchestra.

Maximum permitted attendance is 100.



  • Maria says:

    Hardly opera though!

  • Shouldn’t it be the moment to give a chancf to younger singer who excel in lied singing like Katharina Konradi, Samuel Hasselhorn, Sophie Rennert, Sheva Tehoval, Manuel Walser, Konstantin Krimmel, Andrè Schuen, Stuart Jackson et altri??? Low artistic risk is characteristic for some artistic management of great institutions.

  • Vienna calling says:

    Unlike many German, Swiss, French and British theatres and festivals, the heavily subsidised Wiener Staatsoper did not pay guest singers and singers with Residenzverträgen a single penny from the moment it closed down. Now they have the money to pay superstars to sing for an empty house. I believe this is called adding insult to injury.

    • in the business says:

      Not all houses are able and/or allowed to pay singers for cancelled contracts.

      Since state and city theaters are tied to government funding, in some cases the govenment has forbidden the theater to pay out a contract that was not fulfilled and was cancelled because of the Corona Pandemic. This way, the theater is able to deliver a payable contract to a singer, since the service will be rendered in the form of a recital, as a way of maintaining good will. Theaters need and want those singers to come back to the house when times are normal again, and must dance delicately between managers and politicians (oftentimes with politicians setting the rules) to maintain relationships that continue to function into future seasons.

      Being state-sponsored has its plusses and minuses, and the truth is often much more complex than the immature analysis:

      “theaters that pay out cancelled contracts = nice, socially responsible people”

      “theaters that don’t = greedy meanies!”

      • Bruce says:

        That was interesting — I didn’t realize about the terms of funding. I guess I thought the government gives you the money, and you can do whatever you want with it (although governments should definitely impose financial penalties on any opera company that hires Calixto Bieito 🙂 )

        Just curious, since I don’t know: which category does the Staatsoper fall into: (a) those who could afford to pay and chose not to, or (b) those who were forbidden to pay by the terms of their funding?

        • in the business says:

          Dear Bruce,

          As someone “in the business”, but not at the Vienna Staatsoper, I cannot in fact say what their particular circumstance is, and I have not asked my colleagues there about it directly. I should have made clear that I am not privy to that insider information with regards to the Staatsoper.

          But I can say from my own experience over the last few months that what I described above does really happen.

          I have participated in discussions where the message to us and the ensuing discussion was, “We have been forbidden by the city/state to pay out these contracts, but if we can physically get the cancelled singers here for a new project, we will create one that follows corona social distancing rules, and thereby honor our previous commitment as best we can. Also, if we run out of singers and musicians for these special projects, let’s find local singers and musicians who are out of work that we can support.”

          I will be honest and say that I am not the one talking to the politicians directly, so I cannot say exactly how the budget sausage gets made. It could be that the “do not pay” command is something official that cannot be countermanded, or it could be something unofficial that carries weight (since you have to have your budget approved by those very same politicians in one year’s time, and you have to keep them happy…) But I trust that I am not being lied to about the situation.

          On the other hand, I have talked with colleagues who report that their leadership is totally depressed, says that the theater will probably not be able to reopen for months and months, and has basically given up. Many of those workers at the theater are on Kurzarbeit.

          It is a novel situation, and the dynamic at every opera house, symphony orchestra, theater organization, etc., is different.

          As colleagues in the United States from various organisations have reported to me, some can pay all or some of their cancelled contracts to support their artists and still hope to put on something next season. Others have sat in meetings with management where they examined the numbers together and realized that if the organization tries to pay out cancelled contracts, or in some cases, continues to pay its regular workers, there simply will not be a next season, and no one will be getting a paycheck. So they agreed to go without pay now with the hopes of returning to a job within the next few months, or year, or…who knows when. They are taking the hit now in hope of preserving a future with employment at the same organisation, whose existence they are both fighting for.

    • Suzelbuondi says:

      All untrue. You need to get your facts straight. Singers with Residenzverträgen *were* in fact paid. Additionally, *none* of the singers participating in these upcoming concerts are getting paid. The theater will *not* be empty and all the concerts will be streamed for free.

  • Dave says:

    Are 100 fannies in the seats going to keep the doors open?

  • Lorenz says:

    You missed the fact that the company’s Young Ensemble will proceed – with full orchestra – with Dominique Meyer’s farewell gala, an overview of his decade there. It, too, will be limited to an audience of 100, but live-streamed on 27 June (a day ahead of its originally scheduled date).

  • Zenaida says:
    is the link for the livestreams. Although there is a button for “book livestream”, the livestreams are free of charge – your donation of any amount is appreciated.