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Wiener Staatsoper

Tours

Entrance

Multilingual

Feststiege

Staircase

Lighting

Statues

O Fortuna

Schwind foyer

Beautiful all over

The man himself

Loggia

Refreshments

Marble mural

Tea salon

Box doors

Auditorium

Curtains

Heavier than they look

Tarps

Light maintenance

Little boxes

Dressing rooms

Backstage

Watch your step

Side backstage

Evening

Almost perfect

Completed in 1869, the Vienna State Opera sits proudly on the city's Ringstrasse and is one the most legendary opera houses in the world. 

For the story behind this tour, check out Keep it classical: A tour of the stunning Vienna Opera House

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

If you don't have time for a show, there are multiple tours most days, which is what I did.   

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

One of the oldest parts of the building, the entrance, not surprisingly needs periodic maintenance.   

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A number of tours leave at the same time, each in a different language, and they follow predetermined routes so there's minimal overlap. That, and the construction, meant my tour didn't go up the central staircase, but that didn't stop me...  

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The walls and ceiling of the main staircase, also called the "Feststiege."   

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The staircase survived the war, looking as stately now as it must have done when it was new, nearly 150 years ago. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's all a lot brighter now, though. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Josef Gasser designed the seven statues that overlook the stairway, representing the seven "liberal arts" of architecture, dance, drama, music, painting, poetry and sculpture.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The ceiling fresco, "Fortuna, ihre Gaben streuend" ("Fortune, scattering her gifts") was painted by Viennese painter Franz Josef Dobiaschofsky, who died two years before the opera house was completed. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The foyer is named for the painter Moritz von Schwind, whose 16 paintings here depict various operas.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

If the elaborate ceiling wasn't a giveaway, this part of the building also survived the war. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A bust of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. You can tour the house where he was born if you go to Salzburg, a few hours by train. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The patio, so to speak, adjacent to the Schwind foyer, that overlooks the Ringstrasse. 

Statues by Ernst Julius Hähnel are of heroism, tragedy, fantasy, comedy and love. These are what you can see in the arches from the street.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Just what every intermission needs: snacks and a beverage.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A stark contrast to the Neo-Renaissance design of the rest of the building, but it fits with the rest of the Marble Hall.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Once called the Emperor's Salon, this is where Emperor Franz Joseph I (he of WWI fame) would entertain his guests. You can rent this grand room during the day, or for your own use before and after a performance. How's that for living in style?

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Access to the many boxes that comprise the walls of the auditorium.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Every performance has a maximum audience of 2,284, including seats, standing spaces and wheelchair spots.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

A literal iron curtain separates the audience from backstage. There are two more to protect the side stage and deeper backstage, all in case of fire.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

When rebuilt in the '40s and '50s, the boxes were formed from concrete, but covered in wood for better acoustics. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I was wondering why only some of the seats were covered by protective tarps. Then I looked up...

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The original chandelier was replaced by this 7-by-5 meter (23-by-16.4 foot) light ring that weighs 3,000 kg (6,600 pounds) and has 1,100 bulbs.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

You'd think the boxes would all offer a superlative view, but that's where you find most of the sichteinschränkung, or seats with restricted view. 

I'm standing in the orchestra pit, which can hold around 110 musicians.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Down here are the many dressing rooms, all off limits to visitors.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The massive backstage. It's hard to get a sense of it with the curtain down, but this area is nearly as large as the auditorium. 

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

This hole drops several stories down, so from lowest point to highest point, back stage is even bigger than the auditorium.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I wasn't even at the edge of the backstage area for the previous two photos -- this is the area behind where I was standing. It's a vast space, and I can only imagine how crazy it must be when packed full of performers, stage hands and sets.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Tours are only available in the afternoon but they're nearly every day. There's also a performance nearly every night

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

I saw this shot coming and patiently waited for the carriage to get to the perfect position and by chance, no traffic!

...and the tram arrived at that exact moment. Shot ruined. Oh well, I got plenty of great photos on a delightful tour. You can read all about it in Keep it classical: A tour of the stunning Vienna Opera House.

Caption by / Photo by Geoffrey Morrison/CNET
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