• Stefan Herheim © Peter M. Mayr

Ladies and Gentlemen,


When the decision was taken to permanently turn the Theater an der Wien into a municipal opera house there were many who doubted the necessity and the prospects of success of a third such venue in Vienna. 18 years and approximately 2,500 performances later, the opera house has become part of the city’s identity. After two eventful seasons at the MuseumsQuartier, it now returns to its own, extensively refurbished home, the Theater an der Wien, in time for the start of the 24/25 season.


Among the many people who have made this possible, I wish to extend particular thanks to you as devotees of music and the theatre. It is your enthusiasm and loyalty upon which the success of this theatre rests, and to secure them is the objective of our efforts to present musical theatre for our times at this historic venue. We invite everyone in Vienna, and indeed the whole world, to the ceremonial reopening of the Theater an der Wien on 12 October and the open day on 19 October 2024 to see and hear our newly resplendent and acoustically enhanced house for themselves.


In 2006, the Theater an der Wien was opened as a new opera house by Idomeneo by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and the same work will now reopen it. In his first major opera – his last before he moved to Vienna – Mozart not only found the unmistakable tone for his subsequent masterpieces but also adapted the crude tale of a human sacrifice to the gods as a stage work that finally made opera an unequivocal manifesto for enlightened humanism. This season’s entire programme at the MusikTheater an der Wien, which covers a period of 401 years, is evidence of this development. It begins with the Combattimenti project at the Kammeroper with music by Claudio Monteverdi, whose madrigals are regarded as the cradle of opera. It concludes with the world premiere of a new opera by Miroslav Srnka who, with Voice Killer, stares into the abyss of an unfulfilled male yearning for tenderness and security.


By way of contrast we present Robert Schumann’s secular oratorio Das Paradies und die Peri which deals with one woman’s obsessive search for heavenly fulfilment. For this production, director Christof Loy and conductor Giedrė Šlekytė return to our theatre. Different again, though equally romantic, is Vincenzo Bellini’s masterpiece Norma, a work last seen in Vienna 28 years ago. Our pleasure at being able to show this production, directed by Vasily Barkhatov and featuring the long-awaited debut of Asmik Grigorian in the challenging title role, is all the greater since it had been planned for 2020 and was cancelled owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.


In the “family opera” series we present Der kleine Prinz by Pierangelo Valtinoni after the novella of the same name that made its author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, world famous. Searching for friendship, vastly different creatures realise that what they look like does not necessarily tally with how they see themselves. “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly,” explains the fox to the little prince – and for us there is no better reason for bringing inspirational opera to young audiences. Our musical theatre education programme TaWumm! makes it possible – as does Bravissimo!, an exciting voyage of discovery through the Theater an der Wien on which a wealth of puzzles are solved in the space of an hour in front of, behind and on the opera stage!


Thanks to Vienna’s cultural diversity, we can present numerous works that have a particular connection to the city and the Theater an der Wien without lessening the scope of our programme. Of course, a fitting tribute is planned to mark the 200th birthday of the “waltz king”, Johann Strauss, at the opera house where 13 of his 15 operettas first saw the (spot)light of day. As Strauss anniversary year 2025 gets under way, Das Spitzentuch der Königin returns with a superb cast to the stage it was first performed on.


Like many composers of the First Viennese School, Marianna Martines is another who is unjustifiably overshadowed by Mozart. Among her mentors, Martines, already successful in Vienna as a composer, harpsichordist and singer from an early age, counted no lesser personages than Joseph Haydn and Pietro Metastasio, whose libretto forms the basis of her oratorio Isacco figura del redentore. Now you can see this work, performed with great success in 1782 by the Wiener Tonkünstler-Societät, under the baton of Chiara Cattani and the direction of Eva-Maria Höckmayr when both make their debut at the Kammeroper.


It is also important to the MusikTheater an der Wien to present rarely performed works by modern and contemporary composers. 100 years after Franz Kafka’s death, we present Gottfried von Einem’s successful operatic adaptation of his novel Der Prozess (The Trial). The composer’s settings of works of world literature have always proved highly popular, particularly in Vienna. For this co-production with the Neue Oper Wien, their artistic director Walter Kobéra will conduct, while I, as artistic director of the MusikTheater an der Wien, have the chance to direct at the Kammeroper for the first time. 


In 2023, the Norwegian musical duo Gisle Kverndokk and Aksel-Otto Bull staged the moving story of the life and love of Ruth Maier, a Viennese Anne Frank, who fled to Norway to escape the Nazis but was deported from there during the Second World War to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. As a musical at the Kammeroper, Briefe von Ruth (Letters from Ruth) also breaks entirely new ground for our CAMPUS. 


Although set in Spain, the Russian opera Die Verlobung im Kloster is based on an Irish comedy from the year 1775 which inspired that classic composer of the modern era, Sergei Prokofiev, to create a work of dazzling musical brilliance in 1940. A veritable feast of musical theatre for you to look forward to, directed by Damiano Michieletto and with Dmitry Matvienko on the rostrum.


Giving the lie to Hamlet’s last words, “The rest is silence”, William Shakespeare’s tragedy was already serving as a source of inspiration for Baroque opera. With the ensemble La Lira di Orfeo, director Ilaria Lanzino shows just how unconventional the approach was that Francesco Gasparini – composer of no fewer than 60 operas – took towards the famous story for his Ambleto. In addition, we present other pearls of Baroque opera at the newly refurbished Theater an der Wien in our series of concert performances, including three of the most beautiful and original works by George Frideric Handel.


A performance run that is sold out well before the premiere speaks volumes: Astor Piazzolla’s María de Buenos Aires was a hit with audiences in the 23/24 season. This season, too, you have the chance to see our successful production at the Kammeroper with the folksmilch ensemble performing the evocative interpretation by Juana Inés Cano Restrepo.


I am particularly delighted that the distinguished writer Ilija Trojanow, a man with a genuine passion for opera, will be accompanying us through this season as writer in residence. In this capacity, he will be writing exclusively for our publications and will talk at special events about what he has seen and heard at rehearsals and in conversations with our artists, and explain why a life with music and the theatre brings happiness.


30 minutes before every performance, our dramaturges Kai Weßler and Christian Schröder will continue giving their introductions to the works. On Linke Wienzeile these will take place in the Himmel, our brand-new foyer with its large terrace and a clear view of Naschmarkt. At the other end, as it were, we invite you to intimate concerts in a relaxed atmosphere in the Hölle, our stage in the theatre basement, right next to the new canteen. The new entrance on the ground floor has also become more user-friendly, with a box office open during the day and in the evenings, spacious cloakrooms and toilets, a new lift and a new main staircase, all of which ensure that every part of the theatre is now accessible to all our visitors.


And so, also on behalf of our longstanding partners the Arnold Schoenberg Choir, the ORF Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Wiener Symphoniker, I take great pleasure in extending a very warm welcome back to the future at the MusikTheater an der Wien!


Best wishes,

Stefan Herheim
Artistic Director, MusikTheater an der Wien