The Viennese hated the Staatsoper (“State Opera House”) when it was built. Designed in a Neo-Renaissance style by two architects – August Sicard von Sicardsburg and Eduard van der Nüll – the building was the first cornerstone on Vienna’s Ringstrasse. Begun in 1861, the Staatsoper was finished eight years later in 1869.
Immediately, the complaints started. Some decided that it wasn’t nearly as grand as the Heinrichshof. Others were unhappy that the Ringstrasse was raised higher than the entrance of the opera. It was labeled a “sunken treasure chest” and deemed the Königgrätz of architecture. The architects were devastated. Van der Nüll committed suicide and Sicardsburg died of tuberculosis.
This wasn’t the end of the Staatsoper’s troubles. The interior of the opera house took a hit during American bombing in 1945, and the auditorium and stage were burned to a crisp. It took 10 years for the building to be restored. The first production in the renovated theater was Beethoven’s Fidelio, a story of sacrifice and justice.
Today, the place where Gustav Mahler conducted and Maria Callas sang produces 50+ operas a year. You can buy regular price tickets at the ticket office on the outside of the Staatsoper, or you can queue for cheap standing room tickets – one ticket per person.