Hello... I will be in Vienna for a few days in the beginning of October and am considering an opera at the State Opera. My options are between La Traviata on Friday evening or Tosca on Sunday evening. Other than a matter of personal taste, does anyone have any thoughts about choosing? Both have category 2 and 3 tickets available. One difference is the La Traviata tickets are 100 Euro more (250/290), being through a different site. Any thoughts on the performances or evenings, which would make a better first experience? Or would you go to the box office and try for a same day ticket?
When you say "first experience," are you saying you have never been to an opera? Or just first experience at the Vienna Opera?
La traviata and Tosca are both extremely popular. Here are a few considerations:
- On the Vienna State Opera website, it shows Tosca with a running time of 2:45 and La traviata 3:00. I would have thought La traviata runs longer than that. It has always felt long to me.
- La traviata is a brilliant, colorful opera with big chorus numbers and two lavish party scenes. There are three main characters, but lots of other smaller parts. Tosca is mostly sung by three characters, though there are a few other incidental roles. Only occasionally are there more than two or three characters on stage at a time.
- La traviata is more conventional tragic love story. Tosca is more shocking, with a truly evil villain.
- Both have great music.
You might read the plot synopses to see which appeals to you more. It's always helpful to know the story of the opera ahead of time. And I recommend listening to excerpts to determine if you like the music.
The website also shows limited ticket availability, so if you wait for same-day tickets, you might be disappointed.
Same day ticket???? Not a thing.
Just pick whichever one appeals to you the most.
One difference is the La Traviata tickets are 100 Euro more (250/290), being through a different site
If they're 100 Euro more, they're through a re-seller. If you're undecided, Tosca seems the better value, if you can buy directly online from the box office.
Just being in that space is a great experience. If nothing else, you can take an English- language tour of the theater.
I think Tosca would be a great first opera. Beautiful music. Compelling story. Everybody dies. What more could you want? I would buy tickets now.
One difference is the La Traviata tickets are 100 Euro more (250/290), being through a different site.
That is most likely from a re-seller. I doubt that you can get tickets for La Traviata from the official website of the Staatsoper anymore, because the opera star Juan Diego Flórez is singing. You must decide whether you are willing to spend extra money just to hear him.
Generally, it is adviced to buy tickets only through the official channels, and never ever from scalpers on the street in front of the opera building.
Some random observations. Tosca is the classic production by Margarete Walmann, that in her early days was a Toscanini lover and died in 1992. The fact that a production survives her director 30 or 40 years means that it is a true classic, but usually a bit under-rehearsed. - A good reply to your question would be: what title sports the best singers? Traviata probably has more stars, but the Tosca singers are quite good also.
If you are an absolute beginner, Tosca is more modern in inspiration and has almost cinema timing; at times suspence may get unbearable. Traviata is more 19th century, long discussions and some moments of pure music. Both subjects are strong, Traviata is more sentimental and appealing, Tosca is a strong drama.
Let me have a final judgement as an opera professional; I have attended literally something like 140 performances of Traviata and 80 of Tosca. I find the second acts of both operas depressing, as their divas are progressively crushed by the progression of events; but Tosca is so relentless that you barely have time to breath. Managing the Tosca stage feels like performing a ritual, as there are a lot of visual clues; and the double death at the end (the tenor gets shot and the soprano jumps from a bastion) leaves the stage management quite worried to the last minute; Traviata, with her consumption death, is much quieter. Personally, I vote for Tosca.
If you are relatively unfamiliar with opera, then I would consider Tosca. It is universally appealing, has a powerful and compelling storyline, beautiful music by Puccini and a gorgeous setting. Traviata may have a famous tenor and possibly be a better production, but any nuances from that would be lost on you anyway. Any production at the Wiener Staatsoper would be worth seeing, in my opinion. So my vote is also for Tosca.
Lane has some good ideas as well about reading the storyline ahead of time (and bringing a copy with you to the opera house, to refresh your memory as you watch) and listening to the music beforehand. That in itself will make a difference when you watch it on stage.
As the Tosca production is so antique, it is not difficult to find performances with different singers but the same production on youtube. You can make out your idea:
The "Te Deum" scene, end of Act I. Scarpia has lascivious thoughts during the solemn prayer for the supposed Austrian army winning over Napoleon:
The breathtaking ending of the opera. Tosca is made believe Mario will be subject to a fake shooting, but the shooting is for good:
There are of course many examples of La Traviata on youtube, but I cannot find one from the same Paris/Vienna production actually on stage.
Thank you for all the thoughts... it is very helpful in making the decision. Does anyone have thoughts about standing room tickets? It seems a long time to be on your feet- is it as uncomfortable as it sounds?
I guess it is uncomfortable standing for three hours. I never had this experience, I never ever would buy standing room tickets.
Not to talk about standing in line for obtaining the tickets. If there are very famous singers performing, people are queuing at the standing room ticket counter for hours, having seats, drinks and snacks with them.
People obtaining standing room tickets are the real hardcore opera fans. Most of them know much more about operas than the average spectator. Their reaction to a singer, conductor, director is said to be merciless.
I wouldn't do it. I used to work as the Costume Manager for an opera, and during the production I monitored the wardrobe crew. Not much to do really, since they knew their job. But I would sometimes head into the audiences if there were particular sections of an opera that I really wanted to see (and this was after watching them night after night in dress rehearsals - opera is addicting). After 30-45 minutes, I got tired of standing.
You might be able to last longer, and there's always intermission to wander around, but imo, if you're going to see something at the Wiener Staatsoper for the first time, you might as well spring for a seat and enjoy the opera in comfort.
Forget the standing places: they are for opera buffs, if you are not you will be too tired after the second act (a real buff could never lose the third act, of course). If you cannot afford the Vienna Opera, have a look to the Volksoper that is cheaper; for example, the Fledermaus on October 10th is relatively cheap and you cannot get more Viennese than a Fledermaus at the Volksoper. However, I would still consider Tosca. / Theater an der Wien is the third opera house, often has first rate productions but not at the beginning of this october. / Have you considered Puccini's Trittico at Staatsoper? It would be a long evening (it is three operas, each one hour long), Tosca is more focused but Puccini is still Puccini
Rick makes the point that you can get almost as much out of the performance if you buy standing tickets and then, when you're ready, leave. They won't take attendance at the end, and it's your vacation.
He also says to go to the TI near the Opera to see all your available musical choices at any given time instead of dealing with guys on the street who are only pitching one venue.
You do not go to the opera just to clock in and tell, been there, done that. Hopefully you can have a good time, having a decent seat is part of the game. If you go standing just to have a look inside and leave at the first intermission, well, you can spare the effort and stay home...