Backstage History of the Volksoper

History of the Volksoper


When it first started out, today's Volksoper Wien was neither a state-run theatre nor an opera house. It opened in 1898 as the "Kaiser's Jubilee Civic Theatre" and was initially run as a conventional stage for drama. Standard and comic singspiel operas had to wait until 1903 before they were incorporated into the repertoire: and Vienna's Civic Theatre gradually metamorphosed into the present day Volksoper Wien.

"Tosca" (1907) and "Salome" (1910) were first performed in Wien at the Volksoper Vienna; world famous singers such as Maria Jeritza, Leo Slezak or Richard Tauber would appear at the Volksoper Wien at the very outset of their careers; this was where Alexander Zemlinsky worked as a conductor and became first kapellmeister in 1906. Although the Volksoper Wien managed to attain a position as Vienna's second prestige opera house in the wake of the First World War, after 1929 it reverted to being a "New Viennese Theatre" with a repertoire focusing on light opera.

After the Second World War, the Volksoper Wien acted as the preferred alternative venue to the devastated Wiener Staatsoper.

With the re-opening of the Staatsoper in 1955, the Volksoper Wien again became an independent musical theatre featuring opera, operetta, and musicals. Ever since then, directors Franz Salmhofer (1955-63), Albert Moser (1963-73), Karl Dönch (1973-86), Eberhard Waechter (1987-92) Ioan Holender (1992-96) Klaus Bachler (1996-99) and Dominique Mentha (1999 - 2003) and Rudolf Berger (2003-2007) have helped to make the Volksoper Wien what it is today. Since 2007, Robert Meyer is the director of the Volksoper.