The dance floor of the Vienna State Opera remained empty for two years. The legendary Vienna Opera Ball will take place again this Thursday. And the guest list reads like a rendezvous for the “upper class”. 5,000 wealthy visitors are welcomed, including the Austrian Prime Minister Alexander van der Bellen and the German Finance Minister Christian Lindner.

The Opera Ball is probably the largest event of its kind, and probably also the most expensive. If you want to see live how the 144 couples sway to a polonaise by Frédéric Chopin at the opening dance or how star guest Jane Fonda looks alongside the organizer Richard “Mörtel” Lugner, you have to dig deep into your tailcoat pocket. Even the ticket prices make a big difference: the cheapest ticket costs a whopping 350 euros. According to the organizer, however, there is already a lot on offer: “Dance in the elegant ballroom, stroll through the opera house, visit the various bars and enjoy the diverse music program – all this is included in the price of the ticket.”

However, it is emphasized that the ticket, unlike a normal opera performance, does not include a seat. Those who would like to sit down between the dances in three-four time will only be asked to pay. For the cheapest table seat, outside the ballroom, on the sixth floor of the State Opera, another 105 euros per person are due.

If you don’t like sitting “under the roof”, you can reserve a normal table seat. However, this category already costs 210 euros per person and is also located outside the ballroom.

Even if a price of almost 600 for a ticket and a seat at a music event for “ordinary mortals” may seem absurdly high, at the Vienna Opera Ball these are the proverbial “cheap seats”. It’s actually about seeing and, above all, about being seen. And for the latter in particular, there must actually be a place within the ballroom. And the organizer Lugner can pay handsomely for that.

If you want to book a stage box table in the second tier for eight to ten people, you have to shell out a whopping 11,500 euros. This price does not include the tickets, which have to be purchased per person, nor the “culinary” as it is called.

But of course it can be a bit more exclusive – and more expensive. A box in the stage area, which was specially converted for the opera ball, offers space for a maximum of six guests and costs 13,300 euros. But there is “an excellent view of the opening and the dance floor,” as the organizers write. In addition, lodge guests enjoy their own food and drink service – but this service is not included either.

The premier class at the Opera Ball is called the “Rangloge”. The organizers describe these boxes as “the most beautiful way to experience the Opera Ball.” There is room for a maximum of 12 guests. And they can combine them vigorously: a reservation in the most expensive class costs 23,600 euros. Also without food and drinks.

Even the seats are astronomically expensive. But a whole evening full of dance and music also needs to be survived with culinary delights. And you certainly don’t have to starve in the State Opera – if you have the wherewithal. From oysters to “classic Austrian specialties” to “fruity and natural ice cream creations”, there is something for everyone. But when you look at the prices, one or the other may wonder if a comma has slipped: In the “Falstaff Champagne Salon” a bottle of mineral water costs a whopping 23.50 euros. At ten euros, a meat loaf sandwich almost looks like a bargain.

A glass of champagne costs between 25 and 49 euros. But even those who like it a little more rustic have to be prepared for prices that have it all: As the “Abendzeitung” reports, a small beer (0.33 liters) costs 13.50 euros this year. Likewise a small glass of wine (Achterl). A couple of sausages cost 15 euros. And those who would rather eat a plate of goulash to classical music will be charged 18 euros. The organizers left an inquiry from stern about this year’s prizes unanswered.

The Vienna Opera Ball has never been cheap. But compared to the last edition before the corona pandemic, the prices have shot up significantly. Whether it’s beer, wine or tickets – in some cases prices have risen by almost 50 percent. The organizers emphasize that not only increased production costs or inflation are the reasons for this. There is a lot more focus on charity this year. The higher proceeds should go to the organization “Austria helps Austria”.

If you are tempted to spend several months’ wages on a box, you will unfortunately be disappointed. The boxes of the Vienna Opera Ball are completely sold out. If you like it a little cheaper and still don’t want to miss the ball, you can watch it on TV. From 8.15 p.m. live on ORF 2 and from 9.10 p.m. on 3sat.

Sources: Vienna Opera Ball, evening newspaper