Say what you like about the Viennese, but they sure do know how to throw a party. And when there's a new production, the Wiener Staatsoper is generous in inviting reviewers to join the post-show cast party, which they put on in style. The catering is done by Gerstner, the posh café just across Kärntnerstraße from the Staatsoper, who have been doing their food and beverage service since the new building opened in 1869. General Director Dominique Meyer conjures up a true family atmosphere, congratulating every one of his team – the behind-the-scenes folk as well as the stars. And the venue is the stage itself: it's a treat just to watch the elaborately choreographed way in which they clear the scenery and magically transform it into a party venue, with the house itself making a superbly scenic backdrop for proceedings.

This May, I had the privilege of seeing the performance that celebrated the house's 150th anniversary, a new production of Die Frau ohne Schatten directed by Vincent Huguet and starring the formidable female trio of Camilla Nylund, Nina Stemme and Evelyn Herlitzius. It was a performance worthy of the occasion and the after-party was totally up to scratch. Knowing that we had a "behind the scenes month" coming up, I got the smartphone out and took a few photos to give you a taste of proceedings. Here's the start point, with a stage still full of scenery:

Musn't let the scenery get in the way of a good party © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

Going to need some muscle to shift all that lot, even if it is mostly polystyrene:

Need some muscle to shift that scenery © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

Heave ho, boys!

Heave ho, boys © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

OK, the stage is clear, and the backdrop's ready.

OK, we're clear and the backdrop is ready © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

Where did that hole in the stage come from?

There's a hole in that stage! © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

The tables are rising...

The floor is rising © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

And they're there!

The tables are in place! © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

Don't forget the wine...

So bring in the wine... © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

And may the festivities begin.

May the festivities begin © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin

It's a birthday, of course, so there has to be cake. In this case, a giant scale model of the Haus am Ring itself, made by Gerstner (who else).

Let there be cake! © Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin
© Bachtrack Ltd | David Karlin