Last night, the Vienna Opera was near empty

Last night, the Vienna Opera was near empty


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2021

We have received these pictures of the Vienna State Opera, a few seconds before the curtain rose on Act 3 of Parsifal.

It was the first performance with an audience present of Kirill Serebrennikov’s new production.
The production was vociferously booed after each of the first two acts, apparently in protest against an unsightly stage design.


  • gimel says:

    And, judging from the photo, they are all old, with a smattering of young people, and that is the problem, the young are more likely to be asymptomatic when positive, but still transmitting, and it’s the old ones who are the most vulnerable.

    75% of all Covid deaths, including among fully vaccinated, are over 65 years old. It will always be 75% because the young will always be stronger.

    Try their live streaming.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    I suspect it has to do with people making last-minute decisions to attend „Parsifal“ – sale of all tickets had been suspended during our most recent Lockdown and only restarted late last week.

    Tonight’s „Don Carlo“ has sold very well, tomorrow’s „Don Giovanni“ is sold-out and you can only ask to be placed on a waiting list, and „Parsifal“ on Saturday is selling rather well.

    Next week, „Don Giovanni“ again has only a handful of tickets available, but „Parsifal“ on Tuesday has hundreds of available seats – maybe people saw the telecast with Jonas Kaufmann and Elīna Garanča (from an empty auditorium) earlier this year and are staying away from the production.

  • IP says:

    Just as it appeared that anyone could make a mess out of Parsifal, the box results started to tell. . .

  • Weisst_du_was_du_sahst says:

    I was there last night – but left before the third act. Love the opera and have seen it countless times. Vienna had Parsifals by Mielitz and Hermanis, which already were problematic — but this production is so horrible that it is not even debatable (e.g. Parsifal is shown on video cutting the throat of the swan (which is a homosexual man trying to kiss him), the Gralsritter are a bunch of convicts in prison who beat others and get tattoos). The state opera offered any ticket for 49 Euro (through many channels), so at least I did not lose too much money. Singing was mediocre (of course no Kaufmann or Garanca), but disappointingly also the orchestra not always together and lots of problems in the horns. Shame.

    • V.Lind says:

      So some of the audience may have packed it in before Act III, having had enough?

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      This is very disappointing to read about. Regietheater is there to lecture and little else. It pre-supposes audiences of next to know literacy or intelligence who cannot read the modern meanings into texts from the pass and subsequently have to be spoon fed. It’s the productions themselves which are actually hectoring and incoherent.

      Sorry to learn about the orchestra, though. Perhaps this is a consequence of lack of rehearsals???

    • Alan says:

      This is the best way to deter houses from producing euro trash.
      Regietheater is dying.
      Don’t go. Don’t encourage them.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Part of the issue might be the production but equally the destabilisation of general life by the constant ratcheting up of the threat of Covid cannot be discounted. Not too long ago that would have been the full extent of the permitted audience, albeit more socially spaced. And the idea of susained full attendance now seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Performing to empty auditoria, followed by relaxation,followed by limited numbers, followed by empty auditoria now seems part of the new normal.

    Where this takes us, the audience and the wider future of the Arts, is as yet unknown. But the prospects are not promising. With variant after varient stymying any security we once had the time might not be far off when any gathering is strictly forbidden and that will mark the end of even productions like last nights. Staying away or leaving at the interval no longer our choice.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    The people will ALWAYS vote with their feet. I’m betting their Diversity Officer doesn’t understand that.

  • David Barneby says:

    I find it deplorable that stage directors and experimental set designers have taken over operas, producing them with modern ugly sets that are offensive to the audience. Opera is a world of fantasy mostly telling a story of once upon a time, opera lovers like it the way it was originally, not reinvented. If I was an opera singer I would not perform in a reinterpreted modern production. I walked out after the first act of Peleas e Melisande with a scene of black graffiti on a white background.

  • Nijinsky says:

    What do they expect, with Renee Fleming holding her breath to get her voice to whine and squeak trying to survive it, this “breath” control; and then Netrebko also so full of it there’s the needed extra tension for expression and its struggle. This is going to warn the world about the dangers of global warming, and how we’re losing necessary oxygen levels, I can tell.. it’s just just amazing….. these top billed ones…..

  • Peter Wood says:

    Agree. It is horrendous and wrong concept all the way