Vienna Opera will reopen without standing room

Vienna Opera will reopen without standing room


norman lebrecht

August 16, 2020

The Vienna State Opera has issued an equivocal statement about the future of the Stehplatz section, where so many people young and old have watched opera cheaply and in close proximity.

Under Covid regulations, the section will be closed off when the opera house reopens. Once Covid is gone – whenever – the status of the section will be restored.

Here’s the statement:

Under the current conditions of the federal government, the standing room of the Vienna State Opera cannot be offered in its usual form. The theaters are only allowed to carry out performances for a certain number of people if the visitors keep a minimum distance and have been assigned numbered seats.

The standing room is a particularly important institution in Viennese opera life; not least because it enables participation in the performances at prices that are unique worldwide. The management of the Vienna State Opera wants to ensure that this important facility does not fall victim to the COVID-19 measures and has therefore temporarily seated the standing room for the duration of these measures. After they are removed, the standing area will return to its original shape.



  • Akutagawa says:

    I fail to see anything equivocal, in the commonly accepted sense of ambiguous, about that statement. Quite the opposite, in fact.

  • so sad. one of my very first experiences with opera was in Vienna’s Stehplatz. It was a production of Boris Goudonov from the Bolshoi…with the Polish section. It must have been in 1970 and it’s where I met the then half of the l’enfants terrible, international stage director Christopher Alden.

  • ira says:

    in 1960 i could buy standing room for a schilling, the equivalent then of four cents. i saw the entire repertoire and different casts as well.. what luxury!

  • Larry L. Lash / Wien says:

    I believe you misunderstood. It was announced in early July, when tickets for September performances first went on sale, that there would be no standing room. However, as of this weekend, Staatsoper posted the statement which you quote, but then goes on to make clear that to preserve the tradition and to insure low prices, numbered, properly-distanced seats have been installed in the standing room areas throughout the house. Tickets – costing €10 – will go on sale 80 minutes before each performance.

    Under government regulations Staatsoper needs to be able to control the number and location of attendees and that they remain distanced. To buy a “standing room seat” one must first register with Culturall, Staatsoper’s ticketing partner, state their Culturall account number and show valid photo ID when purchasing the ticket (maximum of two), and again show photo ID when entering the house. The purchaser’s name will be printed on the ticket and retained by Staatsoper for safety measures should an infection cluster occur (the same applies to all traditional seats). If the name and ID don’t match, the ticket becomes invalid.

    At the end, it states that standing room will return to its normal configuration when pandemic rules are relaxed.

    Unfortunately I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Today the government released the weekly totals of new infections and deaths. While deaths remain low (in single digits per week), the number of new infections in the past week has risen to over 1.000, a number not seen since the four week period between mid-March and mid-April. I am doubting if there will actually be a Staatsoper season, and Theater an der Wien has suspended ticket sales after making all seats in the small, cramped (but glorious) house available for the season. They are now informing people that any tickets purchased prior to the beginning of August may be cancelled/refunded, or reassigned to another date. In addition, I don’t see the reality of importing a cast (double casts for the lead roles, to allow more performances) and chorus from South Africa for “Porgy and Bess” in October.

    I will keep you updated as I watch things change from day to day.

    • inaustria says:

      TADW is apparantly not conveying information to artists about what would happen in the case of a shut-down, such as whether or not fees and travel/living expenses would be paid. I know one artist who has cancelled their appearance there due to this. Its a difficult time for everyone, artists as well as theater management.

  • Carlos Solare says:

    According to the State Opera’s website, the standing room section won’t be “closed off” at all. There’s nothing “equivocal” in the statement either.

    Lost in translation, perhaps?

  • Tonerow says:

    At least they’re opening. In Boris Britain, nilch.

  • Novagerio says:

    Closed Stehplatz, but what are the regulations in the orchestral pit? Full or half orchestra? There’s some ambiguity there…