Salzburg Festival 2019 – Drama

The drama programme will engage with myths. The world premiere of Theresia Walser’s Die Empörten (The Outraged Ones) transposes the elemental conflict between Antigone and Creon to a contemporary setting. Maxim Gorky’s Summerfolk, on the other hand, can be read as an antithesis to mythological narrative — here, people hold the responsibility for their own fate. Conversely, the constant divesting of responsibility is thrust into the spotlight with the title character of Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom.


Theresia Walser, photo Markus Proßwitz

There is no escape from the curse that seems to rest on the pupils and teachers in Jugend ohne Gott (Youth Without God), with two members of the group ultimately unable to evade death. Albert Ostermaier tackles the myth of Sisyphus in a dramatic monologue — another world premiere for the Salzburg Festival in an unusual location. Finally, a marathon reading of James Joyce’s Ulysses ties the drama programme directly to Homer’s Odyssey, heard as an echo of antiquity in our time.

The revival of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann will be performed 14 times during the 2019 Salzburg Festival, starting on 20 July.


Michael Sturminger, photo SF/Anne Zeuner

The production by Michael Sturminger and his team has the following new cast members: Valery Tscheplanowa – who caused a stir last summer in Ulrich Rasche’s production of The Persians – plays the Paramour opposite Tobias Moretti. Gregor Bloéb takes on the double role of Jedermann’s Companion and the Devil. Other debuts on Cathedral Square include Falk Rockstroh as Faith, Helmut Mooshammer as Poor Neighbour, Michael Masula in the role of the Debtor and Markus Kofler as the Cook. Björn Meyer and Tino Hillebrand play the Fat Cousin and the Thin Cousin.

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Peter Lohmeyer and Tobias Moretti, photo SF/Matthias Horn

Ödön von Horváth: Jugend ohne Gott (Youth Without God)

A panorama of ruthlessness and coldness in totalitarian times: Thomas Ostermeier dramatizes Ödön von Horváth’s novel Jugend ohne Gott (Youth Without God), a text written in 1937 which chronicles the breakdown of democracy and civil society. The premiere of the new production (a co-production with the Schaubühne Berlin) takes place at the Landestheater on 28 July. Jörg Hartmann, with whom Thomas Ostermeier most recently staged Arthur Schnitzler’s Professor Bernhardi, takes on the main role of the teacher. He is joined by Damir Avdić, Bernardo Arias Porras, Veronika Bachfischer, Moritz Gottwald, Laurenz Laufenberg and Alina Stiegler.

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Thomas Ostermeier, photo Paolo Pellegrin

Maxim Gorky: Summerfolk

Maxim Gorky wrote his play Summerfolk in 1904, on the eve of the Russian Revolution, within an ideological vacuum. The social panorama it describes raises the question of meaning within a self-referential, narcissistic, completely apolitical cosmos – a question that seems more topical than ever today. Mateja Koležnik stages the piece at the Perner-Insel. Her works are known for her precise treatment of the text, her almost micro-surgical dissection of the psychological constellations between the figures, and a compelling aesthetic and formal concept. The cast includes Martin Schwab, Primož Pirnat, Genija Rykova, Gerti Drassl and Aenne Schwarz. The premiere takes place on 31 July.

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Mateja Koležnik, photo Thomas Dashuber

Ferenc Molnár: Liliom

After 16 years in purgatory, Liliom is allowed to return to the world, but he has not improved one bit. – That is the point at which director Kornél Mundruczó begins his new production of Ferenc Molnár’s Liliom, a co-production with the Thalia Theater Hamburg: he unfolds the story in reverse. The hustler Liliom must justify his deeds at the Last Judgment. Kornél Mundruczó, born in 1975, is one of the most important and highly decorated contemporary theatre and film directors active in Hungary today. His films, most recently Jupiter’s Moon, have been shown repeatedly at the Cannes Film Festival. The cast includes Jörg Pohl (Liliom), Maja Schöne (Julie), Oda Thormeyer (Frau Muskat), Marie Löcker (Marie), Julian Greis (Wolf Beifeld), Tilo Werner (Ficsur) and Sandra Flubacher (Frau Hollunder). The premiere is scheduled for 17 August at the Perner-Insel.

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Kornél Mundruczó, photo Fabio Lovino

Theresia Walser: Die Empörten (The Outraged Ones)

A world premiere takes place on 18 August at the Landestheater: the latest play by the German playwright Theresia Walser (b. 1967) is entitled Die Empörten (The Outraged Ones). The “dark comedy” is directed by Burkhard C. Kosminski, who has been responsible for many world premieres of Theresia Walser’s works. Since 2018 he has been artistic director of the Stuttgart Theatre, which co-produces this premiere.
The piece opens with a view of a town hall reception room: two sisters who could not be more different stand next to a bag containing their brother’s corpse. One of the sisters is mayor of the town, the other a left-wing activist, and their brother obviously a suicide who has caused others to die as well. The sisters‘ conflict is strangely reminiscent of that of Antigone and Creon.
– The sisters hide their brother’s body bag in the town hall chest which serves as an altar during the memorial service for the victims. All those present try to preserve a minute of silence which ultimately resembles a pressure-cooker: something abhorrent is revealed which no one has expected … A high-carat cast surrounding Caroline Peters, whom Theater heute has just named Actress of the Year, and including Silke Bodenbender, André Jung, Sven Prietz and Anke Schubert, performs the world premiere of Die Empörten at the Landestheater.

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Caroline Peters, Actress of the Year, photo Reinhard Werner

Readings · Installation

The 2019 drama programme includes four readings and one installation:
Entitled Zeitbrüche (Breaks in Time), Angela Winkler and Anatol Ugorski (piano)
present a Russian evening at the Landestheater, tracing connections between Maxim Gorky and his artist colleagues in Russia during social and political revolt.


Tobias Moretti, photo Christian Hartmann

Tobias Moretti presents the world premiere of the monologue Zum Sisyphos. Ein
Abendmahl (Sisyphus. A Supper) by Albert Ostermaier on three dates at the Restaurant M32 at the Museum der Moderne (a culinary programme accompanies the event). At the tavern “Zum Jedermann”, the innkeeper sits by himself, delivering a tirade against his guests that would have been worthy of Thomas Bernhard. The Myth of Orpheus and Eurydice – Senta Berger and Ulrich Matthes embark upon a literary search at the Mozarteum. From antiquity to our present times, numerous authors have added their views to this unique love story – in the opera programme, for example, we encounter a totally unknown perspective upon it in Offenbach’s Orphée aux enfers.


Ulrich Matthes

In a marathon reading, Volker Bruch, Corinna Harfouch, Burghart Klaußner and Birgit Minichmayr devote themselves to James Joyce’s great episodic novel Ulysses. On no less than 1000 pages, Joyce describes a day in the life of the advertising canvasser Leopold Bloom in Dublin – subtly following the structure of Homer’s epic.
Entitled Joyful Joyce, the Festival presents an installation by Ruth Beckermann
focusing on James Joyce’s visit to Salzburg in 1928. It is shown from 8 August to 28
August on Mozartplatz – the opening hours are Mon to Fri 2 to 10 pm and Sat and Sun 10 am to 10 pm.

Drama Investigations

Four additional Drama Investigations offer the opportunity to intensify one’s exploration of the drama productions.


Carolin Emcke, photo Andreas Labes

The author Carolin Emcke, winner of the 2016 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, gives a lecture entitled Endstation Sehnsucht (Final Stop: Longing – translator’s note: also the German title of A Streetcar Named Desire).
Hanno Rauterberg, deputy culture editor of Die Zeit, discusses “the crisis of the freedom of art and the crisis of democracy” in a talk entitled Die neuen Grenzen (The New Borders). A panel discussion follows.
Michael Orthofer’s lecture is entitled Über das Lesen (On Reading). For 20 years he
has been dealing with international literature and literary translations, both as an author and as a juror for American book awards.


Bettina Hering, photo SF/Wildbild

Wie schreibt man als Dramatikerin für die Gegenwart? (How Does a Playwright
Write for our Times?) is the subject of a conversation between Theresia Walser and
Bettina Hering, on the occasion of the world premiere of Walser’s latest play.

Hermann Bahr, a guiding intellectual force behind the founding concept of the Salzburg Festival, answered the question of ‘why myths in this day and age?’ with the remark: “My gaze yearns impatiently for the future but prefers to return to times that are long past; this is where I find the future.”  (After Press materials)

Marijan Zlobec

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