OpenSuSE 11.1 has had issues with different security settings concerning users being able to mount removable media. There are also issues with Hal and DBus. I would start out by updating all packages. Just keep in mind that updating everything that can be updated may mean downloading several hundred megabytes of information.
You can either open a terminal and "sudo zypper update", or you can go through Yast. Yast will give you a more graphical representation of what you are doing. Please be aware that "online update" in Yast will only select urgent patches. It will not upgrade everything that can be upgraded. Since I do not know what desktop environment and window manager you use, I am not able to give step by step instructions concerning Yast.
On my machine, VLC is still not able to open a CD, although it can open a DVD. Very strange behavior. I am able to listen to audio CDs through Banshee. You might also try using "grip". I use "grip" to copy all my CDs to my hard drive. You can copy them as ogg, mp3, or most any other format you wish. But this is assuming that "grip" can access your disc drive.
The problem seems to be unique to OpenSuSE 11.1 as I ran 11.0 with no problems, and also run Ubuntu Jaunty on this machine.