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Reichenau prepares for premiere week – noe.ORF.at

Reichenau prepares for premiere week – noe.ORF.at

This year's program at the Reichenau Festival has great potential to satisfy the tastes of the audience. The five plays begin on Thursday with an absolute classic: Robert Meyer will perform Nestroy's famous magic play “Lumpazivagabundus” and will also appear on stage once again as Knierim the cobbler.

The previous year, Meyer had returned to Reichenau after a long absence – also in the double role of Nestroy: he directed He Wants to Tell a Joke and played the house servant Melchior. It was perhaps the most successful piece of the previous year. APA cultural journalist Ewald Barringer called the return “triumphant” and the evening “like the climax of the festival.”

Construction at the peak of the festival

Whether the glory days have fully returned this year will become clear in the coming days and weeks. Ticket sales indicate high expectations. In contrast to last year at the same time, many of the five plays have already been sold out, and there are only places left for several more. As we heard from those close to festival director Maria Happel, the 30,000-ticket mark has already been exceeded – that is more than last season. A total of 36,000 copies will be issued this year.

the first show:

  • July 4th:evil spirit Lumpacivagabundus“Johann Nepomuk Nestroy
  • July 5: “Anatole“Arthur Schnitzler
  • July 6: “Ignorant and crazy“Thomas Bernhard
  • July 7: “Doomsday“, Odon von Horvath
  • July 12: “Magic Flute for Kids“Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

During the show's presentation for this year's season, Abel already noted that he has responded to audience feedback. For example, more morning shows are being offered, and Sunday evening slots have been cancelled. Bus service from Vienna is also being increased.

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Classics of Austrian Dramatic Literature

For Maria Happel, this is her third season at the helm of the festival. And she still has a lot to do. Her contract was extended last summer for another three years until 2027 – more in “Reichenau: Maria Happel extended until 2027” (noe.ORF.at; 7 August 2023).

It is no secret that the audience at the Reichenau Festival particularly appreciates classical pieces. Recently, there has been a recurring dissatisfaction from some long-time festival guests: the development was “too experimental”. Pieces relating to the cultural past of the region could be enhanced. This is clearly only the feedback that Abel has received, although she has always emphasized in the past that she draws on both classical and contemporary theatre. “It’s the mix that makes it,” she told noe.ORF.at last year.

If you look at the programme, you will notice a clear Austrian focus. As Happel emphasized when presenting this year's plays: “We remain faithful to our line and dedicate ourselves to the classics of Austrian theatre literature.” Thematically, it is about different “magical worlds” and “the intermediate tones that lead there” – more on this in “The Reichenau Festival begins with Nestroy” (noe.ORF.at; February 14, 2024).

The audience finally got their own “Schnitzler”.

After the premiere of the series with Nestroy as the “father” of Austrian folk theatre, Arthur Schnitzler’s “Anatole” follows. Schnitzler was a frequent guest in Reichenau during his lifetime and especially at the time when he wrote this very work – his “first novel” Anatole. It is pieces like this that the Reichenau audience appreciates and has recently missed. As Happel’s introduction to the programme booklet shows, it follows “the often expressed wish of our audience” and brings Schnitzler to the Neue Spielraum this year.

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Photo series containing 4 photos

Lombakifagabondus

Lalo Godelbauer

Audience favorite Robert Meyer (left) is starting things up again this year: both as director and as “Knierim” in Nestroy's “Lumpazivagabundus.”
Anatole

Lalo Godelbauer

The history of Reichenau is closely linked to the fin de siècle. In Schnitzler's Anatole (director: Michael Gamby), the audience is able to travel through time – and it is difficult to avoid a critical examination of this time.
Ignorant and crazy

Lalo Godelbauer

Stefan Jürgens (left) and Julia Stemberger (centre) are two of the most popular festival faces in Reichenau. This year they appear side by side in Thomas Bernhard's “The Ignorant and the Mad”.
Doomsday

Lalo Godelbauer

Festival director Maria Habel directs Horvath's drama “Doomsday,” which connects a piece of train history to the festival's location on the Southern Railway.

Since she also wants to include a piece of music from the late 20th century in the program every year, this summer we can look forward to Hermann Bell's production of Thomas Bernhard's “The Ignorant and the Mad”, a reworking of Mozart's The Magic Flute (director: Hermann Bell). The Magic Flute also appears in Reichenau again: in this year's children's play, which is not being performed in the theater but in Reichenau Castle. The children's version promises “interaction, fun and humour and enables the young audience to come into direct contact with what is happening on stage,” the children's version says.

In addition to additional performances such as readings or theatre performances with well-known personalities, the programme is completed by Odon von Horvath's “Last Day” – a piece that can be seen for the first time in Reichenau. According to Happel, who herself directed and played the role of “Anna” at a young age, the poet's “late masterpiece” “with its railway line and bridge could be ideally located in the landscape surrounding Reichenau”.