“I never thought that going to the opera would be so painful,”
This is what my travel buddy Caitlin said to me while we gave our feet a break; waiting to watch the second act of Armide at the Vienna State Opera House.
Give your feet a rest? What? Are you IN the opera? You may be thinking. Alas, we were not putting our operatic prowess to the test.
We had hacked the State Opera.
(and by hacking I don’t mean some Mr Robot/Anonymous style shenanigans… I mean we passed up paying €250 for a ticket and paid €4 instead).
What does hacking the opera mean?
My mum first told me about the discounted tickets months ago but I never fully realised just HOW discounted they were until I did some research before arriving in Vienna.
The three main opera houses in Vienna – the Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House), Volksoper, and Theater an der Wien – offer discounted standing room tickets for a fraction of the price of normal seated tickets.
How do you get tickets?
These are available on the day of the show at the standing room ticket office. There are 500 standing tickets available for each show. The time that you have to arrive to wait in line will vary depending on the time of year it is. We visited Vienna in late October so there weren’t too many crowds to worry about.
Unfortunately, we didn’t know this and ended up waiting from 4pm until 6pm. When we arrived, we were about 30 people deep in the line. I noticed that people had come super prepared. There was a woman who had brought along a bag filled with burgers and sides from McDonalds. And there were a few older gentlemen who had brought along camping stools so they didn’t have to stand or sit on the ground for too long.
In hindsight, the line for tickets wasn’t too long so we could have arrived much later but we would have had standing tickets in the highest tier. The tickets we got were on the ground floor, a few dozens meters back from the stage and we had an amazing view of the whole performance.
According to the guide on one of the Vienna free city tour we started but didn’t finish because we rushed off to line up for tickets, the lines become long during the summer so getting there early is a good idea from June to August.
Watching the performance
We had googled the plot of Armide before hand so we would have a sort of idea of what was happening. Luckily, the opera house has small screens in the seated and standing section which translate the performance into whatever language you choose.
Would I do it again?
I had to think really hard about this one because waiting and watching the opera took up most of our day in Vienna. But I think I would definitely dedicate a few hours of my day if it was a show I really wanted to see. In Prague – where the standing room tickets are also available- The Little Mermaid ballet was showing two days after we left. Caitlin and I both would have sacrificed an afternoon waiting for tickets if it was showing when we were there.
Another big thing to consider is that there is a lot to standing that has to happen. We got to sit in line but standing for about an hour, waiting to move into the theatre and then standing through an entire opera was exhausting. So if I did it again it would have to be for something I really wanted to see.
Was it worth it? Even with the sore legs and back that came afterwards?
For €4? And watching it in the Vienna State Opera House? Heck yes! The performance was beautiful and having the screens that translated the songs was really cool. It was a definite bucket list ticker.
- wear comfy shoes.
- Take food and water to have while you wait in line.
- There are no big coats or backpacks allowed in the standing area but you are allowed to leave a scarf or small jacket on the rails (placed between the rows available for standing so you can lean on them) to save your spot if you need to leave the area to check your bags or use the bathroom.
Before or afterwards, pop across the road to the AIDA to grab some of Vienna’s famed sachertorte or strudel. It’s a good sugar kick to keep you energised while waiting, or a delicious post-operatic treat. Even if you don’t make it to the opera, the sachertorte and strudel are delicious and you should try them the first chance you get.
Header image: blog.uyora.com/author/lachezar/