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Wiener Staatsopernchor

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Translation: Mag. Tania Oppel

Traduzione: Paola Bono

翻訳: Megumi Ijichi

Alle szenischen Fotos mit freundlicher Genehmigung der Wiener Staatsoper und der Salzburger Festspiele.

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Ein Klick auf eines der Angebote öffnet den CD- und DVD Shop des Chores in einem neuen Fenster. Dort findet man eine große Auswahl an Aufnahmen unter der Mitwirkung der Konzertvereinigung und dem Wiener Staatsopernchor.

Multi Media

TV- Presence

Proben zu DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER in der Wiener Staatsoper mit Christine Mielitz (Foto: KURIER).The fact that many operas performed in either the State Opera or at the Salzburg festival are often broadcasted on TV, explaines the large TV- presence of the choir. At least twice in the season operas with the choir are broadcasted in TV, short-reports in various cultural programs not included. For example the report in ORF (Austrian television) over the rehersals at the Vienna State opera to DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER with the stage manageress Christine Mielitz.(Foto).

Video- Jukebox

Here you can find short video clips (in Flash- Streaming- Format) about the Concert Association and the Vienna State Opera Chorus since 1975. A brief description of some films can be found further down on this page.

2002: "Treffpunkt Kultur" in ORF2

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus, the Austrian TV (ORF) brought a contribution on the choir in the program "Treffpunkt Kultur" presented by Barbara Rett. To be seen are interviews with the Director of the State Opera Ioan Holender, the Executive Director of the Concert Association Daniela Wagner and the Secretary of the CA Erich Wessner; behind the seens during rehearsals aswell as excerpts of opera performances of the choir. With this contribution one gets a good impression of what life is like as a professional choir singer in the Vienna State Opera.

From left to right: Daniela Wagner (CA Executive Director from 2002 to 2005), State Opera Director Ioan Holender and CA Secretary Erich Wessner in Treffpunkt Kultur (ORF2, 29 Oktober 2002).

In our VIDEO- JUKEBOX (above) you can find abstracts from this program with the following contents:

  • Introductory words of Barbara Rett.
  • Opera-Ball opening 2001.
  • Excerpt from "Die Jakobsleiter".
  • Executive director Daniela Wagner about the occupation as a choir-singer.
  • Everyday life as a choir-singer.
  • Choir rehearsal with choir director Professor Ernst Dunshirn.
  • Excerpt from "Simone Boccanegra".
  • Director Holender about the choir.
  • Retrospective view on famous conductors.
  • Karajan anecdotes, told by the CA-Secretary Erich Wessner.
  • Report about "Turandot" at the Salzburg Festival 2002.
  • Barbara Rett introduces the anedote book of the CA.

(Flash- Video- Streaming: 480x360px, 5:31 Minuten, 19.7MB)

2002: "Willkommen Österreich" in ORF2

The anecdote book "So what do you really do for a living?" was presented in Austrian TV (ORF 2) in the program "Willkommen Österreich" in the framework of an interview which Peter Tichatschek led with the author and choir member Wolfgang Equiluz. In addition to stage anecdotes, one can also experience more about the Vienna State Opera Chorus.

In our VIDEO- JUKEBOX (above) you can find abstracts from this program with the following contents:

  • Introductory words by Peter Tichatschek.
  • Wolfgang Equiluz tells of a funny incident at a Lohengrin performance.
  • Wolfgang Equiluz tells an anecdote about Herbert von Karajan.

(Flash- Video- Streaming: 480x360px, 3:20 Minuten, 12.05MB)

2007: "Theatergucker" in RAI Bozen

In February 2007, the regional broadcast station RAI BOZEN brought a clip on two South Tyrolean choir- and members of the Concert Association Dr. Ulrich Großrubatscher and Konrad Huber.

From left to right: Dr. Ulrich Großrubatscher (former CA business- manager), choir director Thomas Lang at a rehearsal in the choir hall of the Vienna State Opera and choir member Konrad Huber (CA treasurer).

In our VIDEO- JUKEBOX (above) you can find abstracts from this program with the following contents:

  • Musical and scenic rehearsals for Puccini’s Manon Lescaut.
  • Interviews with Dr. Ulrich Großrubatscher and Konrad Huber.
  • Behind the scenes: wardrobes and makeup.
  • Segments from Verdi’s Falstaff in the Vienna State Opera.

(Flash- Video- Streaming: 480x360px, 5:04 Minuten, 18.17MB)

2002: Opera anecdotes (1st book)

"So what do you really do for a living?"

"Und was machen Sie hauptberuflich?": Funny anecdotes and true stories about life as a choir singer in the Vienna State Opera, told by Wolfgang Equiluz.

(Amalthea Verlag Wien, 96 pages, only available in german)
Introduction by Otto Schenk
and illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung.

Herbert von Karajans "Great-Dane-palace", Otto Schenks "window-jump" or Luciano Pavarottis "long-distance-duel" is only three examples of more than fifty from this collection of funny anecdotes. Wolfgang Equiluz never describes the dull, but always the humorous sides of everyday life as a singer in the Vienna State Opera chorus.

Introduction by Otto Schenk:
...What I've always missed in theatre is the fact that a crowd of people can't express themselves all at the same time. In contrast to a play, opera has the advantage of having a choir, that exactly fills this vacuum and can represent the fate of the masses in contrast to the soloists...
...The choir of the Vienna State Opera was one of the first, with which I made my acquaintance as young director. From the beginning I experienced them as a "living being", as a further star on stage beside the soloists. That, which distinguishes them from other choirs, is their impish joy of acting and creating stage characters. We were on the same wavelength, the choir and I, because we both loved it to communicate in a theatrical way - often only a hint of a gesture was sufficient in order to activate the choir's creativity...
...I hereby would like to thank my "State Opera choir" . I can say without a boubt that I owe my greatest successes as a director to this choir - their proficiency, passion and humor...

From left to right: illustrations by Gerard Hoffnung, Otto Schenk at the book presentation at the Vienna State Opera and the author Wolfgang Equiluz in Willkommen Österreich (Austrian TV).

Two short anecdotes:
For outsiders, some musical instuctions from the choir director to the choir, torn out of context, may be totally misunderstood. For example an instuction to the ladies to sing and hold a pedal-tone so long until the men have finished singing the melody, could roughly sound like this: "If the ladies could be so kind as to stay lying until the men on top are finished." Therefore, for the unsuspecting listener, what may seem to sound like sexual harassment, turns out to be harmless musical precision work.

Whilst directing the ROSENKAVALIER at the Vienna State Opera, Otto Schenk asked the choir members, at the first rehearsal of the 2nd act (choir entrance), to just do their own thing without him telling them what to do, just to see what happens. With chaotic entrances, the choir is always in its element and Otto Schenk was quite impressed. Here and there he changed something, but mostly left it the way it was. One colleague, in the heat of the moment, tripped and fell down. Otto Schenk found it apropriate and asked him, from now on, to always do it like that, whereupon the canon replied: "No problem Mr. Schenk, in this scene I've been doing exactly that for the last twenty years."

2010: Opera anecdotes (2nd book)

"Schuld ist immer nur der Chor"

Oper inside - in Anekdoten und Karikaturen,
erzählt von Wolfgang Equiluz.
(Amalthea Verlag Wien, 104 Seiten)
mit einem Vorwort von Jürgen Flimm (Salzburger Festspielintendant)
und Zeichnungen von Rolando Villazón.

Wer auf der Suche nach humorvollen Anekdoten über Dirigenten wie Karajan, Böhm oder Muti, Regisseuren wie Ponell, Wernicke oder Schenk, Sängern wie Villazón, Alvarez, oder Domingo, Direktoren wie Holender, Drese oder Wächter, den Wiener Philharmonikern oder den Wiener Staatsopernchor ist, wird in diesem Buch sicher fündig.

Wolfgang Equiluz hat aus all den amüsanten Vorkommnissen auf und hinter der Bühne mehr als 50 Geschichten rund um den Wiener Staatsopernchor ausgewählt und in humorvoller Art sowohl für Opernliebhaber als auch für "normale" Menschen für die Nachwelt überliefert. Für die optischen Glanzlichter zeichnet (im wahrsten Sinn des Wortes) einer der besten und gefragtesten Tenöre unserer Zeit verantwortlich: Rolando Villazón.
(Offizielle Buchbeschreibung des Verlages)

Von links nach rechts: Chormitglied und Buchautor Wolfgang Equiluz, Jürgen Flimm und Rolando Villazon mit einer seiner köstlichen Zeichnungen. COVER >>

2002: Magazine and Newspaper Coverage

Peter Blaha, PRO:LOG magazine, November 2002:
...the Vienna Philharmonics are occasionally called " democracy of the kings ". Essentially this also applies to the Concert Association, because like the Vienna Philharmonics, the Concert Association is a most successful artistic institution that administers itself. As the Concert Association was established in 1927, it filled a gap in the classical-music-scene in Vienna, because for the first time a choir association was born that consisted exclusively of professional solo singers and was immediately acknowledged accordingly...
The Concert Association was founded with the intention to foster and cultivate the superior choir literatur. The impression that this intention could be realized more easily in the past, as this is the case today, is confirmed by the board members. Daniela Wagner: "There are several reasons why we lost touch of these intentions, one of these is for example of economic nature. We don't have the financial means to present the All Saints' Concerts in the same framework as we have done in the late seventies and eighties. Another reason is that we have been challenged with so much work in the State Opera resently that we didn't have any time left for concerts"...

Ioan Holender, PRO:LOG magazine, November 2002:
...The Vienna State Opera can consider itself lucky to be supported by two world famous cornerstones: the Vienna State Opera Orchestra (Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and the Vienna State Opera Chorus (Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus) who achieve remarkable artistic success inside as well as outside the State Opera...
...The Vienna State Opera benefits immensely by these out door activities, because the performances, for example of the Concert Assotiation, in diverse concerts and at the Salzburg Festival, widen our artistic horizon and has a positive and fertilizing influence on our tasks in the State Opera...
...The artistic home of the Concert Association is of course in the State Opera and the tasks, that the choir has to perform here, are considerable. However the ladies and gentlemen of the choir prove their love for music by being not only very active in the Concert Association but also nevertheless not neglecting their tasks in the State Opera in any way. As director of the State Opera, I congratulate this association, which is of such importance to the music life in Austria, to its 75th anniversary and further more wish them lots of success -and at least 75 more glorious years...

From left to right: PRO:LOG cover, an article in the Kronenzeitung and another in the Salzburger Nachrichten.

Mag. Christian Kirchberger, KRONENZEITUNG, 2 October 2002:
...Life as a choir singer is not always easy. Although they perform on stage night after night and also manage the most difficult operas with bravura, the audience however almost always applaud only the big tenors and dramatic divas. Even the most regular oper-goer is often not aware of the fact that there are not merely talented hobby-artists at work at the State Opera, but professionally trained singers whose chief occupation it is for example, to represent the People in Sevilla or the Mandarins in Peking...
...Before being accepted in the main choir, one has to undergo a strict audition. A basic requirement is years of singing lessons at for example diverse music universities or conservatories. "At the audition it not only counts to have a beautiful voice, but also whether it can easily be integrated into the choir," says choir director Ernst Dunshirn. It takes years for a choir singer to master the entire opera repertoire in five different languages...

Werner Thuswaldner, SALZBURGER NACHRICHTEN 30 August 2002:
...Hans Weigel once named the choir the "Vienna philharmonics among the choirs". This is true, because the choir, like the Vienna philharmonics, doesn't restrict its activity only to the State Opera House, but also performs in diverse concert halls...
...The choir feels itself very connected with Salzburg. The Concert Union has been active here since 1923 (and since 1970 at Karajans Osterfestspielen) as important support to almost all opera and concert performances. The participation in Salzburg every summer (July and August) means to do without holidays, because in September the season begins again in Vienna. Discipline is a permanent principle: this not only refers to singing but also to health and in both cases risks must be avoided by all means...
...It is mostly not understood that choir singing is a full time job and not merely a hobby. Which is why a choir singer, more than once, have to tolerate the question "so what do you really do for a living?". These clueless people can't imagine how many rehearsals there are on the agenda and how many countless works a singer has to have in his/her repertoire, accessible at any time...

1927: Carmen

The following audio example of CARMEN (in German language) dates back to the foundation year (1927) of the Concert Assosiation of the Vienna State Opera Chorus performed in the Vienna State Opera. This is probably the oldest recording of the choir.

Habanera from CARMEN
MP3: 4:20 minutes, 4MB
Cast: Maria Olszewska with the choir and orchestra of the Vienna State Opera conducted by Leo Blech in November 1927.