Extreme nerves in Vienna as Tristan fails to sell

Extreme nerves in Vienna as Tristan fails to sell


norman lebrecht

April 12, 2022

Yesterday’s outburst by Staatsoper director Bogdan Roscic, telling spectators at the general rehearsal of Tristan und Isolde that he would have them thrown out if they booed again, indicated a high state of anxiety on two counts.

Bogdan (pictured left) has done well so far in suppressing the tendencies that marred his record label career, where there was much shouting and frequent tears. But his nerves seem to be fraying on the Ringstrasse and he returned to form yesterday when he acted more like a pub landlord in Linz than the head of the Vienna Opera.

The reason for the jitters?

Take a look at ticket sales for Thursday’s opening of Calixto Bieito’s new Tristan, and the rest of the run. Plenty of seats still available.



  • Cynical Bystander says:

    Bieito is a known quantity in Vienna. I doubt that the relatively slow ticket sales have much to do with what one expects from his productions. Ongoing Covid restrictions will no doubt be playing their part and generally if you look at most houses they are still struggling to get back to pre pandemic levels. That of course does not excuse the hissy fit by Roscic and we will have to wait to see whether the first night audience are as disdainful as those at the Generalprobe. And whether he will harangue them for their discourtesy.

    • R. Ming says:

      There are currently no restrictions on Entering the WSO
      They dont even check your vaccine anymore at the entrance
      Know from my own experience and I am a frequent opera goer in Vienna

      • Anonymous Bosch says:

        The Wiener Staatsoper website clearly states:

        “FFP2-Maskenpflicht: Im gesamten Theater/Opern-Gebäude herrscht durchgehend FFP2-Maskenpflicht, dies gilt auch während der Vorstellungen. Für das Buffet gilt die 2G-Regel”.

        “FFP2 masks are mandatory: FFP2 masks are mandatory throughout the theatre/opera building, including during performances. The 2G rule applies to the buffet”.

        So you need to wear an FFP2 mask, and show proof of full vaccination if you want to eat/drink anything.

  • Hermann Lederer says:

    Where is the problem? 100 tickets left for tomorrow – that will be sold until without problems. The rest is not bad. Ticket sales are at the moment more last minute, tourists (normally more than 1/3 of Vienna ticket sales not back) and still Covid restrictions.No reason to triumph…

    • Roscic GET OUT says:

      Except of masks there are no Covid restrictions. If a new Tristan is not sold out but Schwanensee around 2 weeks ago, no further words are necessary.

  • James Cook says:

    I would go if I lived in Vienna

    • Nick2 says:

      I would not. Beito being the director is enough to put me right off. McVicar on the other hand is a director whose productions stem from the music and not some odd ideological quirk.

  • Julien says:

    The premiere will probable be more or less sold out, but there are about 400 unsold tickets for the next performance (a Monday) and about 170 for the following one, which is high. I wouldn’t read too much in this though, times are hard everywhere. In Paris, where I live, concert halls are sometimes full, sometimes quite empty, more so than usual.
    What I can’t understand is why they are doing a new Tristan. Vienna had a recent and perfectly acceptable production of Tristan (Mc Vicar), probably not great, but neither ugly nor stupid, which is nowadays an achievement. Binning it and bringing in Bieito was so unnecessary.

    • Karl says:

      Concerning the McVicar Tristan I could not agree more. Mr. Roscic ruins the entire basic Opera repertoire.

    • Larry L. Lash says:

      Having reviewed the last two new productions of “Tristan und Isolde” at Staatsoper, I beg to differ.

      Isolde places a (memorable) curse on Tristan in Act I, and it’s apparently held quite well in Wien since the work’s local premiere in 1883.

      In 2003, Günter Krämer’s contract was torn up after his attempt to replace the August Everding production from 1967. In those days, Staatsoper sat critics all together, in Parkett links, Reihe 12 (I don’t know if this practise holds since I eventually requested a seat from which I can look down on the stage; as I am rather short and my view was always obstructed). Of course, critics don’t boo – we are supposed to use our words and trust our editors to get out news, be it good or bad (I have broken this rule only once, by booing my head off at a Salzburg premiere). But in a concerted effort during the curtain calls, we rose as one and turned our backs to the stage when Krämer came for his bow.

      I had to attend another performance in the following years, to report on a major cast change and/or role debut. The person next to me saw me jotting down notes during the first act and, at the Pause, asked me if I could explain what we were seeing, specifically the location (“Where’s the ship”?). I replied that it was either an upscale sushi bar or perhaps the emergency entrance at a private hospital.

      In 2013, when the Krämer production went on the trashheap and the McVicar opened, I ran into a dear colleague who I hadn’t seen in several years and the first word, simultaneously, from both our mouths was “Melancholia”! From the second the curtain rose, it was clear that McVicar was a fan of Lars von Trier.

      Thankfully, I only had to attend the opening and never go back, as I saw not one original idea, and some rather lacklustre and nerve-dulling scenery (I wish there was someone around to explain to me where we were in Act II). In my experience, McVicar has one basic idea and merely puts some spin on it to (hopefully) identify the place and time.

      Despite having a more varied palette than McVicar, Bieito’s constant factor is that there will be something to offend everyone. Now that I am (mostly) retired, I choose to avoid his productions (as I do with several other Regisseurs).

      Had there been any question, I would still skip this run of the production. Martina Serafin gave us all good reason when she squawked her way through the “Liebestod” at last year’s season-preview press conference; has there ever been a more boring Heldentenor than Schager, whose theatrical behaviour makes Jess Thomas look like the Daniel Day-Lewis of the opera stage?

  • Rob says:

    As a pure and unadulterated proud UNvaccinated citizen of the planet (very few of us left I might add), I can listen to Wagner’s Tristan at home and on the go.

    • TITUREL says:

      May I suggest you do listen at home, but forego being ‘on the go’ to save the rest of us from your pure, unadulterated- and frankly stupid and selfish- presence.

    • John Kelly says:

      “Very few of us left I might add”. And a good many of them unnecessarily deceased unfortunately.

  • RW2013 says:

    Is Bogdan dressed by Bieto?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      I’ve always heard “Dress for the job you want”. Exactly what job is his goal with the fit of that suit?

  • Wiener says:

    Karten werden am letzten Tag zu Regie Karten 20€
    statt 250€ .So wirds gefüllt das Haus.

  • Wiener says:

    Danke für den Hinweis
    Bogdan links abgebildet

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    At Wiener Staatsoper, opening nights of new productions are priced higher than the rest of the performances of the initial run. If you must be there on opening night (for which 100 seats remain available across the price categories from €81 and up) be prepared to part with between €287 and €18; if you can wait till Monday, it will be between €239 and €16. By then all the reviews will be out and, being a small country with a lot of great music institutions, news of a new production at Staatsoper will be on ORF (the national news broadcaster), especially if it causes an uproar.

    To the general public, Bieito is still an unknown quantity. His debut here was last season’s new look at his old concept of “Carmen”-in-a-parking-lot, and generally got good reviews (don’t ask me why; too much Zeffirelli, whose production had been on view since December 1978?).

  • Piston1@att.net says:

    Ah yes, those Woolworth Habsburgs, always rising to the level of their own incompetence. We’re seeing a lot of that over here.

  • Piano Lover says:

    “”Plenty of seats available”-no wonder!
    Time to buy the seats themselves!!

  • PG Vienna says:

    I live in Vienna and full house were common during Covid restrictions. This may have more to do with the staging as the booing demonstrated at tge rehearsal. Enough of idiotic , ill informed not knowledgeable stage directors!