Vienna is half-empty for Capriccio

Vienna is half-empty for Capriccio


norman lebrecht

June 21, 2022

This was the scene last night, one minute before the curtain rose on a revival of Richard Strauss’ Capriccio.

The Vienna State Opera is having continued trouble selling its prime seats.




  • Gustavo says:

    Perhaps R. Strauss is just too demanding for our increasingly brain-dead society, stuck at the level of the Neanderthals.

    Preventing energy deprivation and fighting pandemics seem to be more important.

    And we thought nothing would ever change in Vienna.

    • Hugo Preuß says:

      Would you rather spend the coming winter without any heat in your home or without Strauss? NOT in a hospital bed in intensive care sick with Covid, or NOT listening to Capriccio.

      I love Strauss, but I think that “preventing energy deprivation and fighting pandemics” is indeed more important. *Much* more important. And I don’t think I am brain-dead either.

      Fortunately, the presumed choice is entirely spurious, since we don’t have to make a choice here. We can take care of basic needs AND listen to Strauss.

  • Singeril says:

    It should be noted that Vienna has often had a problem selling tickets for Strauss (except for Salome).

  • Felix says:

    Depends on what your using to view the website. On my phone, the image shows much more of the stalls than on my iPad. The more expensive front stalls look well-filled. The rear stalls (category 3) are not as popular as seats higher up which are the same price and have a better view. Hard to say exactly but I’d guess the house is rather more than half sold, more like two-thirds.

    • Elsie says:

      You think this is bad – have a look and see what’s happening at the Coliseum where ENO’s My Fair Lady is a complete commercial disaster.

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    It is sad that Strauss’ masterpiece is so little performed. It’s subtle and varied and altogether glorious.

  • Gustavo says:

    Capriccio has no interval.

    You have to do without carpaccio.

    • GB says:

      Bizarrely, when I heard it in Chicago a few years ago, they forced an interval by breaking the music halfway through.

      I guess 2+ hours with no trip to the bar was too much to ask for Chicago audiences!

  • Hermann Lederer says:

    I remember very well performances of Capriccio in the early 70th with Lisa della Casa. Auditorium didn’t look better. In fact Vienna is doing very well in theses days and better than most houses in the world (over 90%) and still Asian tourists are not back. I know that does not make NL happy but it is the truth….

    • RichardStrauss enthusiast says:

      I have tickets for the premier of ‘Capriccio’ with the Bayerische Staatsorchester at Prinzregententheater Munich on 18th July … that’s tough competition for Vienna

  • MMcGrath says:

    It would help assess the situation to know details as to the Capriccio production staff and singers/conductor. I wonder if orchestra seats’ pricing exceeds perceived value of the evening ?! If I’m paying 250 Euros for a warmed up Calixto Bieito production where the action takes place in a super market and involves a ballet of shopping carts, perhaps I feel ripped off, annoyed, even angry? Word gets out, too, perhaps, that production quality and pricing at Theater an der Wien is reliably better than am Ring.

  • Una says:

    It’s the same everywhere to a greater or lesser extent.

  • Natalie says:

    I attended don Giovanni the other day at the staatsoper. It is one of my favorite operas. I made the mistake of not checking the staging and trusting the wiener staatsoper. I was extremely disappointed and frustrated to discover that the action was happening on some barren moon/gray stone landscape the whole time. Nothing in the staging made any sense at all. There was not a single accessory or object. Leporello sang about his masters book of conquests while looking at his hand. They didn’t even give him an A4 paper to pretend to be reading a list. There was not even a statue or any image of the Commandatore. Imagine the singers singing “he moved his head this way ” and they are staring at a swimming pool (yes, you read that well) instead of a gravestone or statue. Don Giovanni and Zerlina sang “la ci darem la mano” while standing far from each other and without even looking at each other once. Never seen such a beautiful piece of music sang so coldly as if they didn’t care. The whole dinner scene happened with no dinner, no table. The singers sang about the quality of imaginary food. “Deh vieni alla finestra” without any trace of a window of any kind : the lady was standing on a rock in the moon landscape. The text just stopped making sense with such a ridiculous visual. Some arias were even sung with the curtain closed on the stage front like at a concert. Those were the best looking scenes as we didn’t have to endure that ugly gray background. It is hard enough to get people into opera. They really should think carefully who they work with. When the commandatore ghost showed up at the end (at this point I was expecting they’d replace him with a horse or something equally senseless), I was hoping it would be the ghost of mozart coming to punish the director

    • Calixto90 says:

      And don’t forget who is conducting this month Don Giovanni and Capriccio: Philippe Jordan, for me one of the most boring and bored conductors on earth. Hi is a big mistake of Bogdan Roscic. You can see every time when he conducts such demotivating faces on the orchestra. He can not conduct the most easy transitions. He can no follow singers. Really a pity. I avoid his performances and so a lot of people I know. Roscic tries to make opera “younger” but he forgot that one of the most important things at the Vienna Staatsoper, if not the most important, is the orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic! And they need the best conductors, not somebody like Jordan. This is like you have a Ferrari or a Lamborghini in your garage but you can’t drive.

      • Amos says:

        Sorry but the look on the faces of the orchestra members you describe is becoming more the norm for this most laissez-faire top notch organization. Last night I watched a performance of Dvorak from Macao and it was clear from the outset that the VPO was on autopilot. Too often they exemplify a jaded approach to music. Perhaps in concert they should let the concertmaster lead and see what happens!

        • Calixto90 says:

          You are right! Nevertheless, the audience feels and sees the difference when e.g. a Thielemann or a Muti conduct and when PJ conducts… I remember a lot of great evenings with not necessarily the most famous conductors, but people like Peter Schneider, Horst Stein, Marco Armiliato, Bertrand de Billy, Sebastian Weigle, Dudamel (Turandot), YNS, etc. when the orchestra really played and sounded more motiveze and inspire than with Jordan. I personally hope that he doesn’t remain together with Roscic until 2030. It would be really a hit in the face for orchestra, singers and audience.

  • RGuha says:

    Excruciatingly cramped legroom and uncomfortable seats might be the reason too!

  • Thomas says:

    Nun, das fein subtile “Capriccio” war nie ein Zugstück. Aber vielleicht sollten sich die Verantwortlichen im Bundestheaterverband einmal der Realität stellen. Im Hinblick auf die Teuerung, die über Österreich hereinbricht, wollen, ja können viele Menschen die völlig abgehobenen Preise für gute Karten einfach nicht mehr bezahlen, sprich sollte einfach die Preisgestaltung einer nachhaltigen Evaluierung unterzogen werden.

  • Stéphane von Cron says:

    Since the long confinement period Paris has also ascertained that many simply prefer to stay home and watch their new subscription to Netflix. The public needs to be aware that by not actively supporting concert activities, their subsidies are slowly being cut and will condemn live culture to a deadly museum and sonoral document status, hence completely obsolete. The danger is real: Get Back to the unique experience of live performance : it’s our heritage that is at stake!!

    • R. Brite says:

      I agree, although I think price also has a lot to do with it. Still, I was shocked at how sparsely attended the sublime lieder programme by Matthias Goerne and Daniil Trifonov was at the Philharmonie earlier this month, despite the hall’s highly subsidised and hence very affordable tickets.

  • Jared says:

    My concert series that I get to participate in is half empty too, to put it mildly. Many who have held it up have since passed away.

  • Robin Worth says:

    This is sad.

    It’s a charming production (I saw it with Fleming a few years ago when it was new) and even the Kurier was positive.
    Also the kind of music the VPO excels at

    Lohengrin at the Deutsche Oper in May, with Vogt and Groissbock was fuller, but by no means sold out

    What is happening? It’s not seat prices in Berlin