Vienna State Opera

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Vienna State Opera


(until 1918, Vienna Court Opera), the largest opera theater and center of Austrian musical culture. The origin of the Vienna Court Opera dates from the middle of the 17th century. During the 17th and 18th centuries opera performances were staged in various theater buildings (after 1763, in the Kärntnertor-theater). In the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th the repertoire of the theater consisted largely of Italian operas. Beginning in the middle of the 18th century, the operatic reform of C. W. Gluck exerted an important influence on the Vienna Court Opera; a national operatic style was developed (performances of the operas of I. Umlauf, K. von Dittersdorf, and W. A. Mozart). In the 19th century the important works of German, Austrian, Italian, and French composers were staged and many prominent European singers performed there. After the 1880’s the Vienna Court Opera became one of the best European opera houses through the activities of H. Richter, its musical director and conductor from 1875, and especially of G. Mahler, the head of the theater from 1897 to 1907.

In 1869 the opera received a building of its own, where the operas of Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Verdi, Debussy, and R. Strauss were staged and the first performances in Vienna of Tchaikovsky’s operas Eugene Onegin, The Queen of Spades, and lolanthe were given. At the beginning of the 20th century the operas of A. Schönberg, E. Křenek, E. Korngold, A. Berg, and other composers occupied a considerable place in the opera’s repertoire.

During the fascist occupation of the country (1938—45) the opera experienced a period of decline. During the bombardment of Vienna in 1945, its building was destroyed (rebuilt in 1955). After the liberation of Austria in 1945, the Vienna State Opera resumed its activities and soon regained its place as the leading musical center of Austria. In the 1940’s through 1960’s the repertoire of the theater included, besides the classics, operas by such modern composers as C. Orff, W. Egk, P. Hindemith, F. Poulenc, and I. Pizzetti. The best singers of Austria and other countries perform here under the batons of the most prominent conductors: C. Krauss, R. Strauss, B. Walter, O. Klemperer, W. Furtwängler, J. Krips, V. de Sabata, K. Böhm, D. Mitropoulos, L. Bernstein, and others. H. von Karajan was its artistic director from 1956 to 1964.


Chernaia, E. Avstriiskii musykal’nyi teatr do Motsarta. Moscow, 1965.
Kralik, H. Die Wiener Oper. Vienna, 1962.


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