Report: The Vienna audience is staying away

Report: The Vienna audience is staying away


norman lebrecht

October 26, 2020

The usually reliable Der Standard reports that Vienna’s opera, concert and theatre audiences are nore returning despite extensive safety measures and official reassurances. There is resistance to wearing masks throughout a performance.

The Vienna State Opera, reduced to 1,000 seats a night, is haemorrhaging losses with no income from bars or buffets.

Something’s got to give. Read here.

UPDATE: We hear that Theater an der Wien sold out 10 performances of Porgy and Bess at 50% capacity.


  • Vienna calling says:

    The Staatsoper is just in bad-luck/bad-timing situation. Under Meyers leadership, they sold out very night. However, upwards of 30% of the audience was made up of tourists. Every evening! Due to the absolute drop of tourism, this loss is massive. But it provides an opportunity for the new leadership to try to return the Opera to the Viennese. Draw more local audience.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      If it still exists.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      The question is who where these tourists that were filling the Staatsoper auditorium. Where those who attended a performance because, well, they are in Vienna, it’s the thing to do, is written in the tourist guide, and when they are back to their cities all but ignore their local opera company? Or are they the dedicated music lovers who want to take advantage of everything Vienna has to offer?

      My experience – and I don’t live in Vienna but I did visit a number of times – is that is a combination of the two, with the former being more prevalent, unfortunately. Anyone else cares to comment?

      • April says:

        Sounds about right (I do not live in Vienna either ;)).

        I guess there is also a group of tourists, who do not have a “local opera company” in their area, however.

  • Twitch says:

    Well, no wonder-it’s Baremboim conducting 🙂

    • Novagerio says:

      It’s a tragic situation for the arts and for the cultural pride of Vienna, and all you can think of is expose your hatred of Barenboim. Well done Twitch, very mature!

    • Totel says:

      Watch your spelling….and by the way..what does Barenboim conducting have to do with that?

    • Gustavo says:

      And it is not John Williams.

    • Wienerin says:

      Das Foto ist ein Probenfoto aus dem Musikverein vom Sommer 2020. Ich gehe regelmäßig in die Oper, sie ist in Anbetracht der einschränkenden Regeln immer gut besucht, und ich fühle mich durch die strengen Kontrollen sicherer als im Supermarkt oder in der U Bahn.
      Auch Porgy und Bess im Theater an der Wien war gut besucht.

  • Inaustria says:

    Im glad you added the update re “Porgy”. At the Volksoper, some performances of the new “Zauberflöte” have been selling out, of course at reduced capacity. Will they have to shut down? Probably temporarily. Is this the death of opera in Vienna? I most sincerely doubt it.

  • Roland Kluttig says:

    in Graz we play Weinberg “Die Passagierin” and every performance is packed and even sold out under Corona conditions (around 600) so is “Don Giovanni” , concerts and most of the program

  • Jonathan Cable says:

    We’re supposed to be doing six performances of Rameau’s “PlatĂ©e” at the Theater an der Wien in December … I just hope it still happens.

  • Matthias says:

    I don’t think there is a big issue selling out the operas and concert halls yet – maybe there is an issue with just the theaters?
    This fall, I’ve been to the opera 3 times, the Musikverein 6 times once to the Konzerthaus. It’s all been relatively well attended. I think some people from countries with stricter restrictions would actually be kind of shocked how tightly the audience is seated sometimes.
    The only thing that I’ve noticed is that the State Opera is regularly offering cheap tickets for young people for repertory productions where tourists would be more important in normal times. Of course everyone is losing money due to the capacity restrictions anyway.

  • Papageno says:

    it’s the tourists staying away, that’s why. Besides, they’re competing with the Sound of Music tours.
    Smaller opera houses are mostly full with locals.

  • Joseph says:

    It would seem that the coronavirus is worse than the blitz. Myra hess organised hundreds of concerts in the second world War musicians got paid and audiences were able to enjoy live music together. Sure there was always the danger of being hit by a bomb or two but life must go on.

  • Alexander T says:

    Is there no escaping Barenboim?

  • Aldana says:

    Unfortunately, the tickets for the Vienna State Opera are painfully expensive… I would just so much love to go but it is not possible! Volksoper Tickets are affordable, they are approx. only a third or a fourth of the state opera prices.

  • Wienerin says:

    Österreich scheint das einzige Land zu sein, in dem Künstler überhaupt arbeiten können und Sänger, Schauspieler, Tänzer und damit auch das Betriebspersonal der Häuser nicht zu Tausenden auf der Straße stehen.
    Ja, es gibt überall Einschränkungen, aber sowohl das Publikum als auch die Künstler halten sich an die Regeln und können gut damit leben.
    Gesperrte Häuser, aufgelöste Orchester und Companien – die katastrophalen Folgen werden sich erst in den nächsten Jahren zeigen.
    Danke an alle, die den Mut haben, das Tag für Tag möglich zu machen!