Opera is rarely noted for its gunfights and action sequences.
Though, to be fair, plenty of people suffer dramatic endings, commonly after a heartfelt aria that goes on for a suspiciously long time given the alleged condition of the singer.
And yet the magnificent Vienna State Opera (Staatsoper) played a major role in one of 2015’s biggest action movies: Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation. They even held the movie’s world premiere there.
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MI5 in Vienna
(The State Opera House at night)
The 5th installment in the MI franchise stars Tom Cruise as agent Ethan Hunt, Simon Pegg as his able colleague Benji Dunn, and Rebecca Ferguson as the mysterious British agent Ilsa Faust.
Warning: contains minor spoilers
All three appear in the Vienna scenes. These last around 20 minutes, and begin with an aerial view of the city’s old town at night: you can spot Stephansdom cathedral bottom left in the picture.
We then see Benji getting out of a subway train, making his way through the station to eventually reach the Staatsoper.
This train is on the U2 line and the station shown is Schottenring.
In real life, leaving the U2 at Schottenring would mean rather a long walk to the opera house. You should stay on the subway for another five stops to Karlsplatz (in the first train scene, Karlsplatz appears as the final destination on the electronic platform signs).
A little later, it is indeed the Karlsplatz station that Benji emerges from into the bright lights of what looks like a Staatsoper premiere attended by the Austrian chancellor.
As an aside, Benji then seems to head over to the opera house by crossing the Ring boulevard directly from the top of the station escalator.
Don’t try that in real life.
Technically, it’s illegal (given the close proximity of a pedestrian crossing), and the heavy traffic on the Ring might not appreciate your saunter across four lanes and two sets of tramlines.
(The subway exit in front of the Staatsoper)
The action then switches to inside the Staatsoper, where you can, for example, see the beautiful staircases and seating areas.
The performance is Turandot by Puccini, perhaps most famous for the Nessun Dorma aria (which provides the musical backdrop to some of the subsequent scenes).
Members of the world-famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra provide the music at Staatsoper performances, and they recorded around 20 minutes of classical music for the movie.
(The recording itself took place in the main concert hall of the prestigious Musikverein venue.)
Inside the Staatsoper
The Mission Impossible scenes inside the opera house feature a mix of shots.
Some are from within the actual building, others from a stage in a London studio. But the crew filmed all the external scenes on location (much to the joy of Viennese celebrity spotters).
If you want to take a look around the insides of the building yourself, try the guided tour.
Alternatively, should you wish to experience the likes of Turandot in the Staatsoper in real life, it’s easier (and cheaper) than you might think.
For example, the opera house sells standing space tickets on the night of performances for as little as €13.
A genuine film star
Incidentally, the opera house has enjoyed cameo roles in a few other movies, too. For example:
- Before Sunrise: the Staatsoper provides a suitable background for a late-night conversation between the film’s lead characters
- Sachertorte: the main protagonists enjoy a night at the opera
- The Recruit: one episode of the series involves a chase past the building