It was the icing on the cake. Or, rather, perhaps, the schlag on the sachertorte. On our last night in Vienna, we had tickets to the opera!
Originally completed in 1869 as the Vienna Court Opera, and renamed the Vienna State Opera after the abdication of the Hapsburgs in 1920, the building remains intact on the outside, but was badly damaged in March of 1945 by an American bombardment.
Since our hotel was just steps away from the Staatsoper, we walked through the surrounding arcade every day.
No ticket? No problem. You can still go to the opera – each night a small crowd gathered to watch the performance televised live on a screen mounted outside the building. (Oh if only The Met would pick up on this idea!)
Before the performance, we had a light dinner on the terrace at Cafe Mozart (Graham Greene reportedly wrote the script for The Third Man here). Salad and squash for me – and like seemingly everything else in Vienna, I discovered that the squash was breaded. Wienersquash instead of Wienerschnitzel…maybe just a bit healthier?
After dinner, we walked around the corner to the main entrance of the opera house. The foyer and main stairways escaped damage from the fire that ignited from the bombing in 1945.
But the interior was destroyed. Much of Vienna bears the scars of the WWII bombings, with buildings hastily replaced and built on the cheap in the late 40’s and early 50’s. Even though vigorous fund-raising to rebuild the opera house began straightaway after the war, the auditorium is decidedly less grand than one might expect. However, the acoustics are excellent!
Richard Strauss’ Ariadne Auf Naxos was a bit silly and ultimately forgettable, but we will always remember our night at the opera in Vienna. Along with many others in the crowd after the final curtain call, we made our way across the street to the lobby of the Hotel Sacher for a digestif and, on the eve of our departure, a taste of sachertorte. Mit schlag, of course. It was the icing on the cake of our visit to Vienna.