Vienna State Opera
Vienna's operatic tradition goes back to the early 18th century, when most performances
took place at the imperial court. In December 1857, Emperor Franz Joseph I decreed that the
old inner-city fortifications would be torn down, and a broad boulevard, the Ring,
featuring new magnificent buildings dedicated to the various cultural and political
institutions, would be built in their place. Both the court theaters for drama and opera
would be relocated to the Ring. The opera house opened on May 25, 1869, with a performance
of Mozart's Don Giovanni. The opera's popularity grew under its first
directors-Franz von Dingelstedt, Johann von Herbeck, Franz von Jauner, and Wilhelm
Jahn-culminating in the directorship of Gustav Mahler (1897-1907). Between 1938 and 1945,
many members of the theater were persecuted, banished, or assassinated by the National
Socialists, and many operas were banned. During World War II, the house was almost totally
destroyed during a bombing raid, and it was uncertain whether the institution would
survive. However, the State Opera in the Volksoper reopened on May 1, 1945, with a
performance of Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, and on October 6, 1945, the restored
Theater an der Wien reopened with a performance of Fidelio. There were now two
theaters where performances could take place while the opera house itself was restored.
(Only the main facade, the grand staircase, the emperor's tea room, and the Schwind-Foyer
had been spared from the bombs.) On November 5, 1955, the house, which now featured a new
auditorium and modernized stage machinery, reopened with a performance of
Throughout the opera's history, the greatest interpreters have performed at the house, and
important masterpieces have received world premieres there, including Massenet's
Werther and Strauss's Viennese version of Ariadne auf Naxos as well
as his Die Frau ohne Schatten. In addition to Mahler, Richard Strauss, Clemens
Krauss, Karl Böhm, Herbert von Karajan, and Lorin Maazel have served as directors. Today,
the Vienna State Opera is among the most important opera houses in the world, offering more
than 300 performances of 60 different operas and ballets each season. The artistic pillars
of the opera house are a regular ensemble of singers; the ballet ensemble (Vienna State
Ballet); the Vienna State Opera Orchestra, from which the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
recruits its members; the Vienna State Opera Chorus; and the stage orchestra, in addition
to guest singers, dancers, and conductors. Dominique Meyer is director, Franz Welser-Möst
is general music director, and Manuel Legris is director of the Vienna State Ballet. Visit
wiener-staatsoper.at for more information.
One of today's most celebrated conductors, Franz Welser-Möst leads two of the world's
great cultural institutions, as general music director of the Vienna State Opera and music
director of The Cleveland Orchestra.
Mr. Welser-Möst's long partnership with the Vienna State Opera has included several
acclaimed new productions, with a focus on German as well as Italian and Slavic operas and
the cultivation of traditional and new repertoires and innovative projects. In his first
two seasons as general music director, he conducted the critically praised new productions
of Hindemith's Cardillac, Janáček's Káťa Kabanová and From the House of the Dead, and
Verdi's Don Carlo. During the 2013-2014 season, he leads new productions of Puccini's La
fanciulla del West and Janáček's The Cunning Little Vixen; revivals of last season's
acclaimed stagings of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos; and the
company's longstanding major productions of Fidelio, Parsifal, La bohème, and Der
Rosenkavalier. In summer 2014, he will conduct Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg
The 2013-2014 season also marks Mr. Welser-Möst's 12th year with The Cleveland Orchestra,
a relationship that in 2008 was extended through the orchestra's centennial year in 2018.
With the orchestra, he has built close relationships with Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center,
giving performances of Bruckner symphonies in 2011 and Strauss's Salome in 2012 that
achieved outstanding success. He and the orchestra also hold regular residencies at
Vienna's Musikverein, at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, and in Miami.
As a guest conductor, Mr. Welser-Möst enjoys an exceptionally close and productive
relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and in 2013, he had the honor of
leading the orchestra's celebrated New Year's Concert for the second time in three years.
Recordings of both appearances have reached double-platinum status. He has also performed
with the Vienna Philharmonic at the Salzburg and Lucerne festivals, the BBC Proms, Tokyo's
Suntory Hall, the Sommernachtskonzert at Schönbrunn Palace, and on a regular basis as part
of the orchestra's subscription series at the Musikverein.
Mr. Welser-Möst's recordings, both on CD and DVD, have won a number of major awards,
including the Gramophone Award, Diapason d'Or, Japanese Record Academy Award, and two
Grammy nominations. He is the recipient of many honors, including honorary membership in
the Wiener Singverein and Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna, the Gold Medal of Upper
Austria, the Decoration of Honor from the Republic of Austria, and the Kilenyi Medal of
Honour from the Bruckner Society of America. He was named Conductor of the Year by Musical
America in 2003, and is an Academician of the European Academy of Yuste.