3-Euro gift from Vienna

I heard about Vienna for its charm and its world-renowned classical music and operas, but I’d never thought that Vienna could be in my EU travel list that soon. It was a completely unplanned trip, unlike what I usually did when traveling. Vienna meet-up was due to a situation that demanded me to travel. To be honest, I wanted to visit Vienna for some unexpected reasons. I actually convinced myself to spend a few days in Vienna as a little treat and a break during my hectic time at work.

Having arrived Vienna, I did not know that every theatre and opera house in Vienna delivers standing tickets for 3 to 7 Euros within an hour before the show. A standing ticket means you have to stand to watch the show. Even for standing, this is an unbelievably low price for opera performance that I probably would not be able to get anywhere else in Europe.  My non-Viennese friends, who had started living in Vienna for several months, actually did not know this thing until I told them. I was no longer surprised when learning that theatre’s and opera house’s tickets in Vienna are almost 90% subsidized by the government.

On the second day, I intended to get the standing ticket from the National Opera House which is the busiest and one of the largest yet gorgeous Opera House buildings in Europe. This building, as told, is a must-visit in Vienna (in picture).

National Operahouse Vienna
National Opera house Vienna


That morning, I came to the tourist office and knew that the opera show tonight at National Opera house was Madam Butterfly which I did not know. Plus, some Mr. President would be attending that show. Due to that “inconvenience”, the security would be more stringent and so there was no standing ticket.  But they still had the cheapest ticket of 15-Euro for a seat.

I told the tender that I would come back after checking out this play to see whether I still wanted to see it or not. I actually was about to buy that 15-Euro ticket, but all of the sudden I glanced at the next poster of Carmen, the best known opera of Bizet which was also playing tonight. I knew Carmen for its amazing music. Yes, I would rather go for Carmen – talking to myself. Though it would not be the best theatre in town, I bet myself, Lady Carmen would be worth my time, rather than Madam Butterfly which I did’t know much and might also be “spoiled” by a VIP with strict security.

An hour before the show, it was quite easy for me to find my way to the theater. There was no queue; I went straight to the counter “One standing ticket for Carmen, please” – sounding like I really was a regular “standee”. The sellers at the counter did not even bother checking if I was a student but immediately issued me a student standing ticket, which costs only 3 Euros! (Maybe thanks to my juvenile look :D. Though, I am already slightly above that privileged age for all sorts of discount.)

Enjoying an opera with a 3-Euro ticket was such a price that I could never imagine or obtain elsewhere. There is a bar inside the theatre; while waiting for the show to start, I ordered 2-Euro fruit tea which was almost as much as the ticket price. Nonetheless, I felt like that was one of the happiest cups of tea I had ever had due to the annoying fever I had been having during the day. Percentage-wise, it might have also been the most expensive cup of tea I’d ever got, compared to such an outstanding price of the opera ticket I was holding.

Even more surprising, when getting inside the theatre hall, I found that it was not full at all. The standees like me could immediately find quite good seats once the show began. I just followed other standees and got whatever seat I liked. Now then, 3 Euros for a sitting opera ticket. What a godsend!

Carmen play
Carmen play

During the interval, I talked with a bookworm-looking boy sitting a couple of seats away. I learned that he was a musician, playing Clarinet. He said he was from the US, I don’t remember which state, and that he could never get this welcoming atmosphere for classical music and opera in the US.

During the play, though I understood nothing of German for the dialogues, and neither the stage arrangements nor the costumes were the most excellent, the music was just too good not to praise for!

During the show, I sometimes turned to chat with my new standee acquaintance from Turkey, studying in Vienna, about the dialogue in German which I did not understand.

Reaching to the end of the play, I knew how the ending would be like, so and so. Still, the dramatic ending with the mesmerizing music did not fail to shed a few drops of my tear for two young fool hearts, insanely and painful in love.

The curtain closed, I turned to the Turkish friend. She sat still for a while then turned to me – It blew my mind…. Let’s go, I’ll show you the way to the metro!

On the way back to the hostel, sleepy and dizzy with the fever getting stronger, that Bee Gee’s song echoed in my head “You don’t know what is like, baby you don’t know what is like. To love somebody, the way I love you…”

A few days, short and fast, were certainly not enough for Vienna, some missed, some unseen, something else unexpected. Nonetheless, how blessed I was. I couldn’t ask for more with such a 3-Euro gift from Vienna. A gift to remember…

Thu Hằng


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