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Happy Birthday Volksoper

Salome at the Volksoper Vienna

On 14 December 1898, the Volksoper building was opened as a theatre under the name Kaiserjubiläum-Stadttheater. Incidentally, the house was privately financed and also privately run for the next 40 years. Emperor Franz Joseph, however, stayed away from the celebrations because of the national mourning for his wife Elisabeth, who had been murdered in September.

The theatre was founded with the aim of educating the people and making it possible for residents of the outskirts to visit the theatre. At the same time, the theatre was run by a tenant who was committed to an anti-Semitic and xenophobic line. The new director Rainer Simons immediately put this line aside from 1903 and transformed the Schauspielhaus into a pure opera house within three years.

Our opening premiere this year gives us reason to take a look back at these founding years. On 23 December 1910, the Vienna premiere of Salome took place at our theatre. The production was in the hands of the then director Rainer Simons, the musical direction was by Alexander Zemlinsky, and the management team still included the important stage designer Alfred Roller. The production was shown a total of 30 times up to 1917; a planned performance on 12 March 1938 did not take place due to the invasion of the National Socialists.

The next premiere took place on 29 April 1944, i.e. in the middle of the Second World War, in a production by Oskar Jölli, who had directed the opera house since 1941. Due to the war, there were only nine performances. What followed was a long Salome break, and it was not until 2011 that a new production was staged, directed by Marguerite Borie, which was shown in 20 performances until 2013. Our opening premiere in 2023/24 follows on from this Salome story.