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Vienna opera or symphony dress code

Is casual dress an option for any of the opera or symphony performances?

Posted by
6036 posts

Does their website not have a "Dress Code" topic section? ( may have to dig to find it)

Posted by
133 posts

I don't know for sure if there is a dress code, but when we were there a few years ago, people were wearing everything from furs and evening gowns and tuxedos to neat jeans. Orchestra patrons were more formal. We were, however, seated in the cheap seats. I went the middle route with black pants and a dressy blouse and black flats and was not out of place. My son wore dark pants, a white dress shirt and a pullover sweater, and black shoes and he fit in too.

Posted by
1375 posts

The Vienna Opera House FAQ for dress code says:

Is there a dress code for attending opera performances?
We appreciate if you would match the way you dress to the elegant setting of the opera building. Please understand that persons dressed very informally (for instance, wearing short pants or leisurewear) may be refused admission by our supervisors even though they hold valid tickets.

I wore non-jean pants, ballet flats and a nice blouse with scarf and felt as though I fit in to first balcony where I was seated. If I were planning to sit in the lower rows, especially toward the front, I would want to dress more elegantly. The same as I would at our home opera house.

Posted by
1933 posts

I wore my black jeans and a nice top to the opera. But what people actually saw was my coat.

How you behave is more important than what you wear.

I'm guessing that if you care enough to ask, whatever you wear will be just fine.

Posted by
540 posts

To the opera a few years ago, we wore nice travel pants. I believe I had more of sweater/wrap to wear rather than my light rain jacket. We sat up high, and saw many wearing jeans. No one looked askance at us. When you pack lightly, you do your best.

Posted by
1150 posts

Vienna is one of the few cities in the world where you can spot gentlemen in tuxedo heading to the opera in a tram...

Posted by
1163 posts

I was there in December and saw everything from ball gowns and tuxedos to jeans. I wore black pants and a nice tunic top with jewelry and felt appropriately dressed

Posted by
10675 posts

I have sort of a stubborn position on the subject … does that surprise anyone?

First of all you will be representing yourself and the culture from which you come. Will your dress represent that?

Second, you are a guest. When I get a dinner invitation I bring a bottle of wine. What will you be bringing if not your best?

Third, while I haven’t seen it so far on this thread, the “I felt …. “ doesn’t take into account how those around you felt. It’s a “me” generation thing that I am not crazy about. (the couple of “I felts” above were in good context)

Fourth, “when” has a lot to do with it. A matinee is expected to be less formal. Friday or Saturday evening more formal, a grand opening even more so.

Fifth, “where”. In Vienna and similar where the theaters have become tourist attractions there is one expectation while Budapest and most of the Eastern European venues where the theater is still very much a local cultural event the expectations are different. Although I have to admit Budapest is changing. I love the Opera House in Budapest. On any given performance you can find several elderly couples who have been attending most of their lives. They show up in the most stylish of suits and gowns … and hats. Stylish when they were purchased in 1967, now a bit frayed around the edges and a little misfitting. But they have style, class and dignity and they brought together the very best they had for their very best evening. I don’t want to be the one that distracts from their evening.

Sixth, the seats. The balcony will be the least formal, the boxes the most. If you only have jeans and if nothing else matters but you going… at least get seats in the balcony.

Seventh (I am on a roll), I cant pack it or its all I brought are the worst of excuses. If you don’t want to pack for it, please don’t go. You have already established how important it is for you.

Eighth, (still rolling), the “they didn’t publish a dress code so I can wear anything I want”, Sad to think we must always be told what is right and what is not right.

Ninth, “no one complained.” And no one will. See number eight above.

I’ve been to the theater in Vienna, Budapest, Prague and Moscow. Generally speaking 90% of the men have worn a coat and a tie at a minimum. Many, many much better. Because of this topic, the last two times I was in the Hungarian State Opera (one on Thursday one on Friday) I did an informal count. It’s a small opera house with only 1300 seats. My vantage point is in a box and I cannot see the balcony, so I can only see about 1000 seats. In each of those last two visits less than 12 individual men were without at least a sports coat. That would be 1.2%. I suspect the numbers would be greater in Vienna due to the substantially larger tourist trade. I’ve got this wonderful Orvis navy travel blazer. It has great pockets for travel so I wear it on the plane. With dark slacks it mimics the average in the theater and takes very little to bring along. For women, well, i don’t touch that subject.

Failing with this argument, I suggest you google images for the venue you are going. There are generally a few interior shots during or just prior to a performance. Look at the people then copy the mainstream.

Vienna Opera: https://live.staticflickr.com/3212/2694888483_6db5bd0060_b.jpg

Budapest Opera: (okay, special night, I had to carry a tux on that trip) https://static.origos.hu/s/img/i/1602/20160206magyar-allami-operahaz-shakespeare-estely46.jpg Another good thing about the opera house in Budapest is that they have special performances that don’t get widely publicized. At this one I doubt there were more than a dozen not Hungarian. They may have such things elsewhere too. Always good to hunt them down so you can have a unique experience.

Posted by
1278 posts

I have sort of a stubborn position on the subject … does that surprise anyone?

No, not really. Great posting!

Posted by
1150 posts

Great post, James. Being an opera worker in my home town I am probably one of the few persons around -- not including stewards and waiters - who wears a black suit several nights per week. So let me tell: half of the fun of going to the opera, especially in an historical venue, is dressing up! Do yourself a favour and, for the cheap price of a ticket, be in top class for a night. - I remember a time when, in the middle of our holidays, we had tickets at the Innsbruck opera (Festival of Early Music). We arrived to the city center dressed in our best just to meet the flow of tourists going back to their accommodations after an exhausting touring day. I overheard an Italian girl - we are Italian as well - whispering in awe to her mother: "Look, Ma..... they are going to the opera!!!!"

Posted by
4062 posts

The answer is yes, you can wear casual dress to the opera in Vienna. I wear pants and a top.

I’ve been to the Opera many times in Vienna. Never seen anyone on a tram wearing a tux. In Vienna, Opera is meant to be an equalizer and it should not exclude people who cannot afford fancy clothes.

Posted by
10675 posts

Its been 5 or 6 years since I went to the opera house in Vienna, so maybe Emily is correct. Maybe all those photos on line are old. Sad that RS people are too poor for a $50 sports coat. Also odd that people can afford a $70 ticket but not a sports coat. Some day we will all be wearing Mao suits in the name of social justice.

Posted by
6036 posts

I suspect the issue is not 'poverty' in not being able to afford 'fancy' clothes, but lugging them around for 2-4 weeks for a one time use.

What is the carbon footprint to move ~10 lb ( ~5 kilo) ~12000 miles ( ~20000 km)?

People go freaky about plastic bags, but advocate for lugging fuel burning dead weight thousands of miles to 'look right', in order to sit in a darkened building to observe performance art. I am bewildered.

Posted by
3114 posts

Attended both opera and symphony in Vienna 4 years ago. Wore Dockers and a button down dress shirt. Sat in the cheap seats. Most people around me were dressed the same.

Posted by
4062 posts

I’m speaking about working class Viennese, not RS tourists. There are cheap seats available as the Opera is not meant to be exclusive. Habsburgs went away about 100 years ago. Working class folks probably don’t have a tux or sport coat.

Posted by
1933 posts

In Vienna, Opera is meant to be an equalizer and it should not exclude people who cannot afford fancy clothes.

Just thought that was worth repeating.

Posted by
10675 posts

Joe32F

I suspect the issue is not 'poverty' in not being able to afford
'fancy' clothes, but lugging them around for 2-4 weeks for a one time
use. What is the carbon footprint to move ~10 lb ( ~5 kilo) ~12000
miles ( ~20000 km)? People go freaky about plastic bags, but advocate
for lugging fuel burning dead weight thousands of miles to 'look
right', in order to sit in a darkened building to observe performance
art. I am bewildered.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, it’s an environmental issue. That makes much more sense.

Estimated

In Vienna, Opera is meant to be an equalizer and it should not exclude
people who cannot afford fancy clothes. Just thought that was worth
repeating.

Yea, that’s an interesting concept. I suspect they care tremendously more about other form of equalization. Workers of the world unite ... at the opera! But, hey, I’m not Austrian so what do I know.

Emily

I’m speaking about working class Viennese, not RS tourists. There are
cheap seats available as the Opera is not meant to be exclusive.
Habsburgs went away about 100 years ago. Working class folks probably
don’t have a tux or sport coat.

Again, I’m not Austrian, so you are probably correct, but in the US I suspect the majority of the working class who would be interested in attending the opera also own a sports coat. Live and learn.

Mark

Attended both opera and symphony in Vienna 4 years ago. Wore Dockers
and a button down dress shirt. Sat in the cheap seats. Most people
around me were dressed the same.

To quote myself

Fifth, “where”. In Vienna and similar where the theaters have become
tourist attractions there is one expectation ...

Sixth, the seats. The balcony will be the least formal, the boxes the
most. If you only have jeans and if nothing else matters but you
going… at least get seats in the balcony.

I will add to my numbered comments above:

"Tenth, always better to error on the side that shows the most respect; more so if you are a guest"

Posted by
1933 posts

But am I a "guest" if I purchased a ticket to attend a performance?

James E - You mention that you haven't been to an opera in Vienna for 5-6 years. How often do you attend operas in your home town? I've never been to an opening night, but in my home town - Austin, TX, people pretty much wear whatever they want to the opera - and for the most part, behave appropriately, which I think is way more important than what they're wearing.

Posted by
10675 posts

Estimated, thanks for proving my point. Austin is unique in a lot of ways. It isnt mainstream USA. I know, Ive lived there. How often do I go in my hometown? Fair question. I have a hometown and a sort of adopted hometown. In my true hometown I go maybe once ever two years. There, 10 years ago, it was pretty much a dress up event. Now, 85% dress up and 15% ruin it for the other is sweatshirts and munching food in their seats. Why I dont go often. In my adopted home town I go once or twice a year and its pretty much as I described above. People of all incomes dressing what ever their best is for a good night out. In my home town, the minority population, which makes up most of the less affluent class, is also the best dressed in the clubs on Friday night.

So you prove my point. Everyplace is different. Apparently Vienna is Austin if Emily is to be believed. And Budapest is my home town 10 years ago. Maybe why I like it there. I've also been to the Kennedy center in recent year and a classical concert in San Francisco Performing Arts Center. In neither can I recall seeing anyone dressed as Emily describes. But the question was about Vienna and not Austin or Budapest or SF or DC, which is why my first post was just a list of general observations which hold true to one degree or another no matter where you go. So i reiterate, if there is any chance you might be wrong, error on the side of respect to the other.

Oh, you paid, so you arent a guest? When you landed in Europe, you became a guest.

Posted by
3317 posts

Many valid points, James E.

I wear nice black pants and a pretty top with jewelry or a nice washable dress with ballet flats. That has been good for operas or ballets at Vienna, Venice, Verona, etc. That is also the same as I dress for a ballet, symphony or theatre play in Seattle. All of those clothes are worn several times to dinner or mix & match for daytime during a European 3-week trip (carry on, only, no problem).

Posted by
4062 posts

In neither can I recall seeing anyone dressed as Emily describes.

James - you didn’t see anyone with pants and a top on?

Posted by
1150 posts

Opera is meant to be an equalizer

Yes, this is true; actually, Austria is one of the few places where I routinely see ball gowns in standard apparel stores.

Posted by
4062 posts

Those gowns are not meant for the Opera.

I actually have not seen this, except for in the high end stores. Not quite sure what you saw.

Posted by
6036 posts

At this point I cannot help but wonder if OP has regrets about posing the question, or is amused at how far afield the comments are, relative to the original question.

Posted by
1150 posts

In Innsbruck I always see ball gowns at Peek and Cloppenburg. But I have often seen them also at Sillpark and DEZ, large shopping centers, and not always in the high-end stores. In Innsbruck, of course, Trachten is also a viable alternative to formal attire.

Posted by
10675 posts

joe32F, I think it's pretty much on topic. We have learned that the opera in Vienna is a pretty much laid back affair, other places not so much. We have learned that some completely focus on the performance so the venue and the atmosphere dont matter, while others see the performance and the venue combined as as a special event; and that the later attitude is a hold over from Hapsburg Austria and is contrary to the norms of modern social justice and contributory to global warming. Oh, and that the Walmart in Vienna sells ball gowns.

Posted by
10675 posts

Following your line of reasoning, should the audience still wear their
tuxes and evening gown to these events?

If you are addressing me, cant find where I suggested tuxes and evening gowns; or a discussion of park concerts. I suggested a $50 sports coat for other than Vienna. Vienna, anything appears to be sufficient.

I do want to apologize for one thing i said. If in Vienna opera is used as a tool of social justice, who am I to judge. If that is their culture, then when I am a guest there I should respect their cultural values and be prepared to share a box with an Austrian guy in flip flops. A RS guy in flip flops that just spent $4K for a 2K tour will still bother me though. But the world still holds something for every one and it's my choice to accept or go some place else. So I have no complaint.

Posted by
3114 posts

James E,

I thought I was discussing your points. There is no "chip" involved from my side.

Other than my original posting in this topic where I answered the OP question about my experience with acceptance of casual dress in Vienna, I have decided to remove my comments as they were not appearing to help me extract any understanding of your points nor assist with the original question. Sorry to have wasted anyone's time.

Posted by
10675 posts

Mark, to be fair, a $50 sports coat isnt a tux. But you are passionate and that's a good thing. I've changed my opinion on a lot of issues through such arguments. Some times they appear to get personal, if you got that impression, I apologize and acknowledge that some times I need to rope it in a bit.

Posted by
3114 posts

James E,
No apology needed. Always glad to see your posts on the various topics that come up.

Posted by
1 posts

I can tell you from experience you are expected to dress up. I visited the Statsoper on a whim while studying in Vienna. I was in a skirt, but it was casual as was the shirt I was wearing. I felt out of place. The worst part was when a woman (a patron, not a worker) scolded me for wearing flip flops... I NEVER would have dressed this way normally for such an event, but, as I said, went to a performance on a whim after a day in the city, and did not have time to return home to change. I was very uncomfortable knowing I wasn’t dressed well! That said... the performance was perfection!

Posted by
4062 posts

Flip flops are not ok for the Opera, according to the suggested dress code quoted above. Not wearing flip flops, however, is not that same as needing to dress up. Just wear shoes you wouldn’t wear to the pool.

Posted by
10675 posts

Emily, I figure it this way. The difference in the weight of flip flops vs shoes and socks is about the equivalent to the weight of a sports coat. So, if I wear flip flops to the opera in Vienna I can wear my sports coat and still be carbon neutral; and maybe cool things down by a degree or two.

Posted by
44 posts

One of the best, amusing posts I've read in a while...James, you are hilarious and right in many ways in my humble opinion...and maybe , unknowingly, creating a new fashion/ecological trend with your very last comment...hahaha!!!

Posted by
10675 posts

The edited one suggest traveling naked in the summer. But I was afraid some might try it.

As a serious suggestion; a trip to Europe requires about 100 trees in carbon offset. That will set you back maybe $75.00. Figure two additional leafs for the sports coat.

Posted by
7 posts

If you want to go to see a performance at one of the most traditional opera houses in the world, you should at the very least show respect by dressing up. It makes me sick to see people in jeans and very casual clothes. Total lack of appreciation and respect. Opera is not movie theatre, and one should dress properly.