With up to 5,000 visitors each year, the Vienna Opera Ball is one of the biggest cultural events of the year in Vienna. On February 9, 1956, for the first time in the Second Republic, the Vienna State Opera transformed into the most beautiful ballroom in the world. What important historical event forms the basis of the Viennese balls? What are the requirements to be allowed to open it?
The legendary parties and balls held on the occasion of the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), form the basis of the many balls in Vienna. Since then, people in Vienna have been dancing and celebrating very exuberantly during the carnival season (officially from 11.11. to Faschingsdienstag).
With the exception of the revolutionary years in the mid-19th century, when no one felt like dancing, the demand for ball events increased rapidly afterwards. The events of the Paris Opera served as a great model.
However, Emperor Franz Joseph initially forbade a dance festival at the k.k. Court Opera Theater. He feared tumultuous scenes similar to those at the Paris Opera. Thus, the first ball took place in the nearby building of the “Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde” . None other than Johann Strauss conducted as a guest.
In 1877, the emperor finally gave his consent to a “soirée” in his court opera theater.
Although the emperor himself was not present, three archdukes and a very large number of – mainly male – guests were. An extended concert was presented. Johann Strauss composed for it and conducted the now unfortunately lost “Reminiscences from Old and New Vienna”.
The crowd was enormous and the fine sounds were almost drowned out. It was not until Eduard Strauss took the baton around midnight that the signal was given for the ball to begin. His specially composed opera soirée polka then also formed the highlight of the evening.
The first “real” opera ball was finally held on January 26, 1935 , and immediately became the undisputed highlight of the carnival. It only came to a temporary end after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1940.
When the State Opera was largely destroyed in March 1945, its reconstruction lasted until November 5, 1955. On February 9, 1956, it was once again: Alles Walzer! Only once since then has it been canceled: in 1991 because of the war in the Persian Gulf.
For the Vienna Opera Ball, at which approx.. 5,000 guests participate, the opera is opened from the basement to the attic. There are, in addition to the ballroom, several restaurants, Heurigenlokale, a Viennese coffee, a disco and, most recently, a tattoo study.
The exclusive and original preserved tea salon remains also during the Opera Ball, reserved only for the artists of the State Opera, as well as the special guests.In New York , another “Viennese Opera Ball” traditionally takes place.
Time Travel Tip:
Experiencing a ball night in Vienna during the ball season is a very special highlight. In advance a few waltz dancing lessons is offered in many dance schools. Of course, the most traditional is at the Elmayer.