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What is a“debutant“ (Debütant) ?

Einzug der Debuetanten 2005
Debutants entering the ballroom, 2005

Historically, young ladies and gentlemen coming of proper age to be formally introduced to society are referred to as debutants. Specifically for the traditional Vienna Opera Ball, debutants are the young people, who visit this legendary ball for the first time in their lives and take part in the festive opening ceremony, with an elaborate dance choreography.

Cost of being a debutant at the Vienna Opera Ball

Below you can find a rough estimation of the costs that you will have to consider when participating as a debutant in the opening ceremony. The expenses highly depend on your personal preferences.

  •  Reduced price ticket for debutants (per person): 120 EUR
  • Tailcoat/white tie (gentlemen)/formal ball gown (ladies): You can find cheap options for white tie/tailcoats e.g. on eBay for  around 300 – 400 EUR including accessories (vest, shirt, bowtie). Ball gowns start from 400 Euros and depend on the designer. A tailcoat can also be rented for about 200 Euros with accessories.
  • Shoes: 100 Euros
  • Dance lessons in case you need to brush up on your waltz: about 100 EUR
  • Trip to Vienna: This highly depends from where you are. If you are travelling from New Zealand, you may have to consider a slightly higher budget than people who travel from the Vienna suburbs. Since you have to apply well in advance to become a debutant, you will have plenty of time to look for cheaper flight tickets in advance as well. If you travel from a European country, an average round-trip ticket to Vienna would be around 150 EUR. Again, this depends on your plans. You can certainly couch surf for this occasion but you may also want to make this visit special and book a nice hotel. Unless you choose a top hotel right next to the opera (e.g. Hotel Sacher) you may be able to calculate around 400-500 EUR per week for accommodation.
  • Other living expenses can be around 300 EUR for a week (meals, sightseeing, public transport, etc.)
  • Hair stylist and make-up artist for the ladies: from 100 EUR
  • Food and beverages at the Vienna Opera Ball: glass of sparkling wine 9-13 EUR, glass of champagne 24-30 EUR. Note, as a tradition, debutants are allowed to bring food and beverages with them backstage. As debutants you may bring along food and beverages, but let’s calculate with 75 Euros.

Estimated total is about 1000 EUR, and for the ladies even a little bit more. But trust us, the experience is well worth every penny (or EUR cent in this case).

How to apply?

In order to be chosen as a debutant to take part in the Vienna Opera Ball , you have to meet the following requirements:

  • You have to be at least 17 years old but not older than 24 years..
  • You have not been a debutant at the Vienna Opera Ball before. (You can only be a debutant once in your life at the Vienna Opera Ball).
  • You must master very good skills in left waltz. If this is not the case, don’t worry, you can definitely become a professional with some time to practice. Start as soon as possible to take classes!

The application process for the Vienna Opera Ball differs a bit, depending if you are from Vienna,  the Austrian region or from abroad.

Vienna:

Personal application at the Opera Ball Office in Vienna (Goethegasse 1, 1st district) at one of the two application days in autumn before the ball (please inform  the Opera Ball Office (phone +43 1 51444-2613) or via the website of the Vienna State Opera). You will then be informed via email about your formal date to show your dancing skills to a jury.

Austrian region:
Application with CV and photo within the application deadline (normally late summer, please inform  the Opera Ball Office (phone +43 1 51444-2613) or via the website of the Vienna State Opera) – Opera Ball Office, Goethegasse 1, A-1010 Wien. You will then be informed via email about your formal date to show your dancing skills to a jury

From abroad:
Application with CV, photo and a few minutes of video showing you dancing skills (left waltz).  Deadline: usually late summer, please inform the Opera Ball Office (phone +43 1 51444-2613) or via the website of the Vienna State Opera) –   Opera Ball Office, Goethegasse 1, A-1010 Wien. You will then get further information about your application by email.

Dress-code guidelines:

Please also refer to the pictures in the image gallery. :

ladies gentlemen
all rehearsals
  • elegant
  • blouse is OK
  • avoid jeans or corduroy pants no crop tops 🙂
  • suit
Generalprobe (dress rehearsal)
  • black coat and skirt or pantsuit
  • white blouse
  • dark suit
  • white shirt
  • tie
Opera Ball
  • snow-white (not cream, not beige, not ivory) ball gown
  • white shoes (closed in the front)
  • white long gloves (according to the dress, e.g. short sleeves -> gloves over ellbow)
  • no piercings
  • tattoos not visible (if necessary hide by make-up)
  • crown (you get it at one of the main rehearsals) fixed to your hair
  • tailcoat with accessoires
  • white bow tie
  • white cotton gloves (not leather)
  • patent leather shoe
  • no piercings
  • no earring
  • no barb
  • no long hair
  • no visible tattoos

Generally your shoes should have a leather sole.

About the rehearsals:

Debuetanten bei der Generalprobe
debutants at the dress rehearsal

The most important thing: Always be on time. Once you are late, you may be sent back home. So better make that earlier subway/bus 😉

You will get the dates of the rehearsals from the Opera Ball Office, as soon you were selected to participate. The Vienna couples have three rehearsals in January and February before the ball, whereas the ladies and gentlemen from the other Austrian regions  and from abroad have only one or two lessons before the ball. Additionally, there are two main rehearsals (Hauptproben) for everyone in the Gustav-Mahler-Saal at the Vienna State Opera, the week before the ball and of course the dress rehearsal (Generalprobe) one day before the ball. In a nutshell – the couples from abroad and from the Austrian region except Vienna have four to five rehearsals (refer to the Opera Ball Office for exact and official information), the couples from Vienna six.

Your committee pass will receive remarks for every participation in a rehearsal. Without these remarks you may not take part in the opening of the ball. So remember to take along your committee pass to all rehearsals.

What else?

  • You may take folding chairs and blankets to the ball – this is a tradition, as debutants have little pick-nicks backstage. Before your performance, you are accommodated in the Orgelsaal (organ hall), which does not have any seats (see photos). Furthermore, remember to take along food and beverages
  • Patent leather shoes tend to stick to each other, which is especially problematic when you cross the legs during the dance. This can be avoided by greasing critical regions of the shoes with Vaseline.

Further tips? Give them to us!