It starts tomorrow at 22.00 until 05.00. The highlight of Vienna’s ball season and the showcase for the great and the good of Viennese high society and the self-publicists.
Here was the construction work on the outside a few days ago. An entrance ‘gantry’ and press box has to be built, the red carpet laid down and so on. The press reported today that most of the politicans will not be attending this year – they have previous arrangements. Whether this is deliberate distancing from a media circus, which may not be such a PR coup, or they have simply danced themselves out in other balls, we will never know.
Meanwhile, inside the state opera house the whole of the auditorium and the stage area and orchestra pit are being transformed and blended into one huge area with extra seating and boxes and, most importantly a beautiful dance floor, where once was seating. 500 stage hands work on this for about 30 hours to remove the seats and lay the parquet. An army of florists move in to prepare 650 floral arrangements to decorate the boxes, tables and walls. See photos of the construction work here
[from commons wikimedia.org]
The ball traditionally opens with an hour long guard of honour from around 160 debutants. These are the ‘face’ of the opera ball. Who are they?
[from commons wikimedia.org]
First of all, you must be between 17 and 24 and come as a dancing couple. You must never have been a debutante before.
You should be a good ‘left walzer’.
The girls need to wear a snow white ballgown with gloves and leather soled shoes. The boys need to wear evening dress – costing 400 euro upwards – or hire one and all the accessories for 200 euro.
You must have no visible tattoos or piercing, boys may not have a beard or long hair. The girls must have a ‘ball’ hairstyle which supports a tiara. Sigh of relief, the tiara is provided by Swarowski and is a keepsake. The debutants are also given a goody bag with cufflinks, make up and gloves.
They have 3 rehearsals after selection, the final one being the night before the ball.
They will have had to buy a ‘committee ticket’ for 120 euro to enable them to apply as a debutant and attend rehearsals. They have to buy or hire the evening dress/ball gown – a snow white ball gown – not cream or ivory. They may need refresher ballroom lessons at 100 euro an hour, money for drinks – a glass of white sparkling wine is around 10 euro or champagne 25 to 30.
The opera ball first started in 1877 – by special permission of the emperor to hold a soiree. It moved from its first dates in December, to the date at the end of the carneval/shrovetide season in 1935.
The cost of attending the ball in 2016 are as follows:
entry ticket is 290 euro.
renting a side level box is 20,500 euro! !
a stage box cost the same. Various levels and categories of seating can be hired with the cheapest a shared table for 2 persons for 200 euro.
The state opera even charges to watch the rehearsals – from 30 to 60 euro or standing room for 25 euro!.
The ball is attended by 5,150 guests, plus staff and musicians means it is absolutely packed out. The VIPS look as if they are wedged with shoe horns into their boxes.
Not surprisingly the income is 3.4 million euro, but the outgoings are 2.3 million euro which leaves a profit of 1.1 million. This is the only night of the year, it is said, when the state opera makes a profit.
Over 1,500,000 viewers watch live transmissions on the Austrian TV. Everyone says that you have to be there once in your life to feel the atmosphere…
Alles walzer! – ladies and gentlemen take your partners!