On May 25, 1869, the opera house solemnly opened with Mozart’s Don Giovanni in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.
The popularity of the building grew under the artistic influence of the first directors but it experienced its first high point under the direction of Gustav Mahler. He completely transformed the outdated performance system, increased the precision and timing of the performances, and also utilized the experience of other noteworthy artists, such as Alfred Roller, for the formation of new stage aesthetics.
On March 12, 1945, the opera house was devastated during a bombing. For the next ten years the Vienna State Opera operated in two venues while the true headquarters was being rebuilt at a great expense. Only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer had been spared from the bombs. On November 5, 1955, the Vienna State Opera reopened with a new auditorium and modernized technology. Under the direction of Karl Böhm, Beethoven’s FIDELIO was brilliantly performed, and the opening ceremonies were broadcast by Austrian television. The whole world understood that life was beginning again for this country that had just regained its independence.
Once a year, the Vienna State Opera is transformed into the most festive and most famous ballroom in the world – the Vienna Opera Ball. This unique festival is always the undisputed pinnacle of the ball season in Vienna, as is proven by its enormous international appeal.
Today, the Vienna State Opera is considered one of the most important opera houses in the world; in particular, it is the house with the largest repertoire. It has been under the direction of Dominique Meyer, along with musical director Franz Welser-Möst, since September 1, 2010.