There is no doubt that the art world is facing unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, audiences are being granted an extraordinary level of access to past performances from internationally renowned cultural institutions that may have otherwise remained out of reach for many.
Since March 15, 2020, the Wiener Staatsoper (known in English as the Vienna State Opera) has joined the ranks of other distinguished performing arts institutions — such as the Metropolitan Opera, the Bayerische Staatsoper and the Opéra national de Paris — in offering free performances online. The Wiener Staatsoper’s vast archive is being showcased through their free nightly streaming program, with showtimes that match the originally planned schedule for the house this season.
The programming includes story ballets like Edward Clug’s “Peer Gynt” and Rudolf Nureyev’s “Swan Lake” (listed on the site by its German title, “Schwanensee”); classic opera favorites, including “La Bohème” and “The Magic Flute” (“Die Zauberflöte”); and updated interpretations, such as Irina Brook’s “Don Pasquale.”
The Wiener Staatsoper is no stranger to transmitting their repertoire to viewers at home. First opened in 1869, the opera house suffered major damage during an American bombing raid in 1945, and only reopened in its original location ten years later. From the most difficult period in its illustrious history, the Wiener Staatsoper reemerged with a brand new auditorium outfitted with the latest technology, and its 1955 reopening ceremonies were broadcast over Austrian television.
In recent years, the company has delivered 45 livestreams per season to subscribers all over the world. Until further notice, a different past recording will be available to watch for free every night and for 24 hours after. Subtitle options include English, German, Italian, French, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Chinese. Particularly exciting titles to look out for in the second half of May include the new children’s opera “Patchwork” on May 23, the edgy production “Salome” on May 27 and the comic work “Le nozze di Figaro” on May 30.
With the largest repertoire of any opera house in the world, including 60 ballets and operas that span every period from Baroque to contemporary, the Wiener Staatsoper is known for giving audiences something new to look forward to every night.
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That commitment has not been diluted during the newest trials facing the opera house as a result of the pandemic. For each of us who wishes to spend an evening in the virtual presence of our favorite composers, choreographers, conductors and artists, the Wiener Staatsoper’s extensive archive will be there to bring back fond memories of nights out and to facilitate new memories of making the best of life from home.