State Opera House : Michelin's recommendations
The first performance at the Staatsoper in 1869 was Mozart's Don Giovanni and it closed its doors to the music of Wagner's Twilight of the Gods in 1944. A year later it was damaged by bombing. It was to reopen to the music of Beethoven's Fidelio in 1955, the year of Austria's international renaissance. This reflects the importance of the State Opera in the country's recent history and how it embodies music in Vienna. Its fine Renaissance façade on the Ring, together with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra form a worldwide institution with the world's greatest conductors and international stars passing through their portals. The list of all its outstanding directors is impressive. There was Gustave Mahler, for example, who between 1897 and 1907, gave the Opera its present status by the expressionism introduced into his orchestration and by the delicate attention paid to stage direction which was new at the time. Later, Herbert von Karajan (from 1956 to 1964) instilled new life into the dramatic style and founded the repertory system. Despite the 300 performances given at the Opera House every year, it is nevertheless very difficult to get tickets. Visitors should, however, at least take a look at the main staircase* and the Schwind Foyer*, which provide relief from the sober lines of the auditorium with its ultramodern machinery. In keeping with true Viennese tradition, Johann Strauss's mascot opera, the Fledermaus, is performed every year, cutting into the repertory cycle. Similarly, the auditorium is the venue for the Opernbal (Debutantes Ball) held to celebrate the entry of aristocratic young ladies into high society.