Amid the splendour of London’s Austrian Embassy, accompanied by some splendid coffee and ‘national pastries’, Dominique Meyer, the Director of the Wiener Staatsoper, not only announced the opera house’s plans for the 2014/15 season but also unveiled the Staatsoper’s collaboration with Samsung to bring its productions to subscribers via their televisions, computers and mobile devices.


This service, known as ‘Wiener Staatsoper live at home’ offers a subscription package of over 40 live broadcasts in excellent picture and sound quality, enabling audiences worldwide to watch live – or ‘time zone delayed’ around the world – via the internet on a computer, Smart TV or even mobile device. At any time, viewers can switch between two channels: an overall view of the stage or close-ups from moving cameras.


In addition to the live stream, the ‘Wiener Staatsoper second screen app’ – for tablets or smartphones from Google Play and the App Store – gives viewers synchronised multilingual subtitles. There is even a synchronised score available with many performances. The portal provides not only information on special subscriptions, but also an extensive additional programme with ensemble portraits, interviews, trailers, in-depth texts and so on. Finally, the ‘Wiener Staatsoper publications app’ offers a selection of multimedia programme booklets.


The service begins on 7th May with the streaming of the performance of Verdi’s opera, Nabucco, with Placido Domingo in the title role. Later, the Wiener Staatsoper is deploying this new technology for a live schools programme to make its portfolio available to large numbers of young people throughout Austria and abroad, for educational purposes.


“What we’re offering isn’t comparable to standard live streaming programmes. It’s more like what a TV station or network does,” said the Wiener Staatsoper Director, Dominque Meyer. “We’ve installed new, state-of-the-art video and audio equipment – including eight HD cameras – and we’ve built studios in the house, equipped with remote control. The operations are invisible and aren’t distracting to the public or the artists. Opera lovers all over the world can now switch between two live channels of the same performance at any time while watching: a total view of the stage, and a live cut film with close-ups, moving cams, backstage views and so on.”


One of the world’s leading opera houses, the Wiener Staatsoper is currently the only opera house offering such a service to international audiences. However, at the London Austrian Embassy event, Mr Meyer revealed that there is growing interest from opera houses and broadcasters in the pioneering work that his organisation is doing.


For those who want to be present, either in person or online, there are six opera premières scheduled for the 2014/15 season: Mozart’s Idomeneo (5th October 2014), Mussorgski’s Khovanshchina (15th November 2014), Verdi’s Rigoletto (20th December 2014), Richard Strauss’s Elektra (29th March 2015), Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (26th April 2015) and Adès’ The Tempest (14th June 2015). In addition, there will be three ballet premières at the house in a wide-ranging programme comprising 52 operas and 11 ballets.

The Vienna State Opera House. © Wiener Staatsoper / Michael Pöhn