Schönbrunn James Bond Vienna Opera
Travel

Variations on a Rococo Theatre

AUSTRIA – Vienna, Schönbrunn Palace Theatre // The Living Daylights (1987)

One of the most beautiful theaters to attend to in Vienna is the one, where late emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife “Sissi” sat in. It’s not always open for public – but there are some royal eventualities.

Why Bond was here
James Bond (Timothy Dalton) is uncovering a conspiracy around an arms smuggle ring. His aide is young Soviet cellist and forced-sniper, Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo). Both meet in Bratislava and escape to Austria. Before duty calls, Bond and Kara have some romantic days in Vienna – including a visit to the opera the royal Schönbrunn Palace Theatre. Kara hopes to “play here one day”. At the end of the movie, she performs Tchaikovsky’s “Variations on a Rococo Theme” right there.

The Living Daylights Vienna Opera

Kara playing her cello at the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre

How you gonna get there
Some film location sites on the web confuse the opera room with the festival hall of the Vienna Musikverein. That is a false information – directors at the Musikverein confirmed to us, that there was no Bond filming at their place. The real location is in fact the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre.
It is part of the huge Schönbrunn Palace complex. The theatre is situated just right to the main entrance. Its German name is either “Schloßtheater Schönbrunn” or “Musik Theater Schönbrunn”.
The gate entry is at Schloßstraße 47 and can be easily reached via the metro line U4 or the bus line 10A. Both stations are named “Schönbrunn”.
Not only the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre but the whole complex is a vast area. As the park behind the castle was also a filming location take at least half a day to explore the compound.

Good to know
The Schönbrunn Palace Theatre really is a royal place: It was built by the Habsburg empress Maria Theresa in the late 17th century and was one of the first theaters directly adjoined to a royal palace. One can recognize the noble purpose in the so-called “Kaiserloge” (emperor box) vis-a-vis to the stage. The balcony was reserved for the royal family. The last royals to sit in it were Franz Joseph I and his famous wife Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria – then in “The Living Daylights”, Bond and Kara are allowed to sit in the “Kaiserloge”.

Get a 360 look on the theatre here:

Nowadays the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre belongs to the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. The university takes on the legacy and fills the theatre with new magic. The thick red embroideries and golden panelling still look, like the theatre directly came to live from the 17th century.
Usually the theatre is closed for the public, only the students are allowed in for practice. But the university regularly opens the theatre as a chamber opera and also for semester finals. In August 2016 they host a modern play of Don Giovanni. Tickets and dates can be found under kammeroper-schoenbrunn.com.

We came at the most inconvenient time of the year: semester break. As the Schönbrunn Palace Theatre now belongs to the music university, the opera hall was empty, the students and workers gone for a holiday. Luckily the university management allowed us in for a little sneak – so we were able to stand on stage and gaze at the beautiful “Kaiserloge”.

© 2016 Huntingbond (1,3), © 1987 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation (2)

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