Whilst getting excited about my trip to Vienna, I Googled 'how to dress for the Viennese opera' - quite honestly hoping to have an excuse to dress up, and the results weren't disappointing. Most people seemed to be saying that the dress code was smart and only ignorant tourists attended in jeans! So, wanting the authentic experience as always, I happily packed my favourite silk peacock pashmina, favourite accessories, and a crease-resistant outfit.
After a couple of great days sightseeing, appreciating the Swarovski flagship store, and quality-checking most of the cake and hot chocolate in Vienna, the night of the Opera arrived. My mum and I had booked in advance to ensure good seats to the Saturday Performance of Armide, and we turned up to collect our tickets on the night.
The Vienna State Opera building looks stuning and impressive by day, and by night it genuinely beguiles! I suddenly felt so glad to be a part of this magnificent city in such an authentic and purposeful way, as opposed to simply visiting in the daytime.
Filing past glamorous guests, and through the wide and ornate entrance hall, we made our way up the grand staircase admiring the frescoes and graceful architecture, and found our box and seats. I looked up and was immediately entranced by the expanse of crystal in the ceiling, being the magpie that I am.
The performance began with a sombre and elegant solo by Armide herself; a sorceress in love, and then built to a variety of character interactions, setting a scene of war and emotional torment for the rest of Act 1. With simple but effective, feminine costumes, and eye-catching scenery with great visuals of gold, black and silver, the themes of love and sorcery were evident.
The performance was of such a high standard that I found the part of me that occasionally watches X Factor scoffing and sighing in frustration and disbelief at the very notion of 'talent' - that it has become a word far too inadequate!
Aswell as the magic of the opera singers and orchestra, I loved the subtle incorporation of emotive dance in parts of the performance, especially when it was so effectively used in a tableau of dancers to show the rising and falling emotions of Renaud - Armide's spellbound lover.
The interval was equally as great an experience as the performance; the delicious cakes and sweet treats were hard to choose from but I made a decision eventually you'll be glad to hear.
Looking around the large room glittering with crystal chandeliers and silk and fur-clad guests, I was certainly glad to have dressed up. I found myself wishing we had retained such traditions in London at our own opera and West End...
The Vienna State Opera is very close to the city centre, and is somewhat of a transport hub within the city - with great tram and metro links (metro stop Karlsplatz). Tickets can be booked online at http://www.wiener-staatsoper.at
The Viennese opera building and its history are truly a grand sight. It originally opened in 1869 and despite damage and significant repair after WWII, the grand staircase and main façade are the original structures. The 40 minute tour takes in the various halls, main foyer, staircase, tearoom, as well as the auditorium and is available in a variety of languages.