How do you engage a new generation of opera lovers or excite your current fans for the new season?
For the Wiener Staatsoper, the key is its annual “Tag der offenen Tur” or open day program.
The weekend before opening night, the Wiener Staatsoper opens its doors to the general public for free with a ticket audiences pick up at the box office. The tour is given in two sessions, one in the afternoon and the second in the evening, with each tour allowing 1,709 individuals to enter the theater.
The tour allows audiences a chance to walk around the theater and see every part of it at individual paces.
The tour began in the front lobby where general director Dominque Meyer stood to take pictures and answer questions from audience members as members of the stage orchestra performed the overture from “Tannhäuser.” From there, visitors had the chance to walk around the corridors, take pictures and sit in the main lobbies to eat a snack. There was also the possibility of seeing the theater and admire the auditorium or walk on stage where a number of props from productions of “Aida,” “Don Carlo,” “La Traviata,” “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” “Manon,” Daphne,” “Carmen,” and “Don Giovanni” were on display. Members of the technical department and fire service also presented special equipment, including fog machines and steam engines. For kids, there were confetti and soap machines, as well as curtains that opened and closed.
There was also a dressing room open for audiences to see original costumes; in the Mahler hall, there were original manuscripts from the company’s history. In the Marble Hall audiences had the chance to play dress-up in costumes from “Die Frau ohne Schatten,” “Don Carlo,” “Die Zauberflöte,” and wigs and hats from various different productions. Children also got a station where makeup artists painted them as opera characters.
For those audience members who were interested in listening to music, ensemble members of the Staatsoper performed arias from various classics while orchestra members and chorus members rehearsed in the foyer. There was also a ballet rehearsal and a presentation of the Wiener Staatsoper Live stream program.
To conclude each tour, the auditorium filled up for a half-hour concert that showed the technical marvels of the stage and as well as some of the ensemble members performing selections from “L’Italiana in Algeri,” “Sylvia,” and “La Bohème” in full costumes. Audiences cheered on as presenters walked on stage in costumes representing Fafner and Fasolt, joking about the works and unveiling each performer.
All in all, it was an afternoon of discovery, joy, and wonder. For families, it was a chance for kids to see the magic that lives behind opera and for fans, it was a chance to learn more about the art form they love and a chance to fulfill dreams.