Ludwig van Beethoven


Opera in two acts op. 72
Libretto: Joseph Sonnleitner, Georg Friedrich Treitschke
Text of the new production: Thomas Reichert
First performance of the third version: Vienna, May 23, 1814
German with explanations in English
Duration: 2 hours
Concept and Direction: Thomas Reichert
Set Design: Michael Simon / Thomas Reichert
Marionette Head Design: Alfred Kleinheinz
Costumes: Kerstin Grießhaber
Musical Arrangement: Thomas Reichert / Philippe Brunner / Matthias Thurow
Light: Thomas Reichert / Alexander Proschek
Puppet’s Heads: Vladimir Fediakov

Puppet Making / Sculptural Work: Vladimir Fediakov, Emanuel Paulus, Philippe Brunner
Costume Tailoring: Marion Mayer, Edouard Funck, Heide Hölzl, Anne-Lise Droin, Eva Wiener, Ursula Winzer
Puppet Painter: Anne-Lise Droin
Props: Vladimir Fediakov, Eva Wiener, Emanuel Paulus, Max Kiener
Woodwork: Pierre Droin, Emanuel Paulus, Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Metalwork: Harald Alker
Technician: Alexander Proschek
Dialogue Recording and Editing: Matthias Thurow
Music Editing: Philippe Brunner, Alexander Proschek
Sound: Alexander Proschek
Light: Alexander Proschek
Assistant Director: Katharina Müller-Uri
Assistant Stage Designer: Eric Droin
Stage Manager: Pierre Droin
Artistic Director: Philippe Brunner
Don Fernando, King's minister
Kieth Engen
Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Don Pizarro, governor of the prison
Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Stefan Wilkening
Ursula Winzer
Florestan, a prisoner
Ernst Haeflinger
André Jung
Vladimir Fediakov
Leonore, his wife, disguised as a man with the name "Fidelio"
Leonie Rysanek
Juliane Köhler
Eva Wiener
Rocco, gaoler
Gottlob Frick
Jan-Gregor Kremp
Philippe Brunner
Marzelline, his daughter
Irmgard Seefried
Pauline Fusban
Edouard Funck
Jaquino, gatekeeper
Friedrich Lenz
Johannes Meister
Emanuel Paulus
Prisoners, guards, townspeople
Anne-Lise Droin, Marion Mayer, Vladimir Fediakov, Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher

Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Ferenc Fricsay
Historical recording:
Deutsche Grammophon 1957

The dialogues were recorded in November 2018.
Bonn, September 15, 2019

The puppets and the equipment were made in the workshops of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.

Susanne Tiefenbacher
Managing director
  • Born in Zell am See
  • Business training; studied communication science
  • Postings abroad in Peking, Hong Kong, Cyprus and Portugal
  • Freelance entrepreneur in event marketing and cultural management, production management for festivals
  • Managing director of Winterfest Salzburg (festival for contemporary circus art)
  • Since 2020 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Philippe Brunner
Artistic director, puppeteer
  • Born in Berlin
  • Studied musicology and English literature
  • Founded and directed the Junge Marionettenoper Berlin
  • Organisation for the Lucerne International Music Festival and the Berlin Festival
  • Production manager at ECM Records, Munich
  • Since 2003 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Anne-Lise Droin
Puppeteer, costume-maker
  • Born in Geneva
  • Trained as a kindergarten teacher
  • Puppeteer, puppet workshop at the Geneva Marionette Theatre
  • Since 2010 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Pierre Droin
  • Born in Geneva
  • Studied art history
  • Puppeteer, puppet-maker and stage director at the Geneva Marionette Theatre
  • Since 1990 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Vladimir Fediakov
Puppeteer, sculptor, woodcarver, puppet-maker
  • Born in Moscow
  • Trained as a car mechanic
  • HGV-driver, freelance taxi-driver
  • Furniture restorer
  • Since 2000 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Edouard Funck
Puppeteer, costume-maker
  • Born in Paris
  • Master tailor; studied at the École Paul Poiret (Paris)
  • Costume supervisor for Stage Entertainment, Cirque du Soleil, Oper Leipzig.
  • Freelance costume designer
  • 2011 - 2017 and since 2019 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Heide Hölzl
  • Born in Salzburg
  • Trained as a dressmaker at the Salzburg vocational school
  • Theatre dressmaker
  • Since 1960 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre (actually retired, but still active)
Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Puppeteer, workshop
  • Born in Regensburg
  • Studied voice at the Mozarteum University
  • Freelance singer and voice teacher
  • Since 2019 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Marion Mayer
Puppeteer, costume-maker
  • Born in Salzburg
  • Universities of Applied Sciences for fashion and clothing technology, and ceramics and kiln construction
  • Master dressmaker, qualified potter
  • Retail experience
  • Since 2015 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Emanuel Paulus
Puppeteer, scene painting, workshop
  • Born in Schwarzach
  • Painter and decorator
  • Since 2007 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Philipp Schmidt
Puppeteer, assistant to the artistic director
  • Born in Göttingen
  • Studied Music Theory, Musicology and Linguistics
  • Lecturer of Music Theory at the University of Music Weimar
  • Editor and music engraver for various music publishers
  • Since 2022 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Eva Wiener
Puppeteer, properties
  • Born in Klagenfurt
  • Trained in textiles at technical college
  • Since 1990 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Ursula Winzer
Puppeteer, properties
  • Born in Hallein
  • Trained in textiles
  • Sales and consulting in the Heimatwerk
  • Diploma in feng-shui
  • Since 1986 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Günther Schöllbauer
Technical manager, stage manager
  • Born in Salzburg
  • Training as electrical engineer
  • Technical director in the Kleines Theatre (Salzburg) and Metropolis
  • Head lighting technician in the Salzburger Landestheatre
  • Since 2019 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Alexander Proschek
  • Born in Wiener Neustadt
  • Diploma in digital media technologies
  • Freelance sound and lighting technician
  • Keen musician
  • Since 2016 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Barbara Ortner
Director's assistant, office manager
  • Born in Salzburg
  • Trained in travel and tourism management
  • Reception and event organisation in various hotels
  • Since 1999 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Christine Gropper
Finances, funding, strategic marketing
  • Born in Munich
  • Studied cultural geography and landscape, regional and urban management in Erlangen, Salzburg and Buenos Aires
  • Post-graduate studies in cultural management
  • Ticketing management, film culture centre Das Kino, Salzburg
  • Production management, Winterfest (festival for contemporary circus art), Salzburg
  • Since 2021 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Silvia Greisberger
Cash desk
  • Born in Salzburg
  • Studied languages
  • Reception and hotel reservations
  • Ticket sales for a concert agency
  • Since 2021 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre
Andrea Schmirl
Cash desk
  • Born in Innsbruck
  • Studied languages
  • Town guide in Innsbruck
  • Sales in travel agency
  • Since 2005 at the Salzburg Marionette Theatre

Committee of the Board

  • Claus Spruzina
  • Suzanne Harf
  • Hannes Eichmann
  • Kurt Lassacher
  • Brigitte Lindner
  • Anton Santner

Act I

Don Pizarro, governor of a state prison, fears that his crimes may come to light, and has unjustly imprisoned Florestan, a fighter for truth and justice. Florestan's wife, Leonore, suspects where her husband is being held, and sets out to free him. Disguised as a man and going by the name "Fidelio" she manages to find employment as assistant to Rocco, the jailer.

The new assistant soon earns Rocco's trust; he even countenances a relationship between Fidelio and his own daughter Marzelline, who was actually promised to the porter, Jaquino. Fidelio asks Rocco to prove his trust by allowing her to visit the prison with him. He agrees, but tells her there is one particular prisoner they cannot visit. Fidelio surmises that it must be Florestan.

Don Pizarro, having received a message that the Minister of State wishes to inspect the prison, in search of victims of arbitrary incarceration, realises that Florestan must be killed.

When Rocco refuses to do this, Pizarro decides to do the deed himself, and posts guards to warn him with a trumpet-call of the Minister's arrival. Fidelio guesses what fate awaits her husband, and asks Rocco to allow the prisoners into the garden for exercise – but she does not see Florestan among them.

Act II

In the dungeon, Florestan bemoans his fate. Shaken by fever, he has a vision of his wife, then falls unconscious.

Rocco and Fidelio descend into the dungeon to dig the grave. Fidelio recognises the prisoner as her husband. When Pizarro enters and raises a dagger against Florestan, Fidelio reveals herself as Leonore and aims a pistol at Pizarro. At that moment, a trumpet-call signals the Minister's arrival. Pizarro leaves the dungeon, and the couple embrace in "joy beyond name".

On the parade ground, the Minister greets his friend Florestan, whom he had believed dead. Leonore unlocks her husband's chains, and all the prisoners are freed.

About the play

Thoughts from stage director Thomas Reichert

"Once upon a time in the distant future..."

"All Fidelio productions remain somehow unsatisfying, stuck somewhere between banal and abstract, between contrived and abusive. And the excuse is always the allegedly weak libretto."

Leonore knows what love is – she loves Florestan. With the strength of this love she has to fight against evil and all manner of adversity, until she is almost crushed by the boundless power of fear, to the point where she overcomes the fear of death. Only then are freedom and love achieved – far more even than domestic bliss, a power greater than ourselves and still in the realms of our fantasy, transforms all death into life.

If I want to tell what I hear in the text and music of Fidelio, with its "little people" and their "superiors", with the courageous actions of the heroine and a happy ending that shines far beyond what is not yet possible, then for me that's like in any good fairy-tale.

Undaunted, Leonore throws herself between death and her husband. It is her ability to surmount fear that brings about the happy ending. A fairy-tale is always a story of hope.

Or else: Leonore refuses to allow evil to rule her life – indeed, all life – so she has to overcome justifiable fear to confront evil face to face. This clears the way for the liberation of all concerned and the utter defeat of evil.

The down-to-earth story with simple everyday characters makes Beethoven's music not only glorious, powerful and emotional, but it forces the protagonists into a variety of levels, and the action into a demand for our future. Without the libretto, which places the figures in everyday life, the music would run the risk of being l'art pour l'art; conversely, the figures without the music would degenerate into kitsch.

Without the text, the hope expressed in the music would be merely a noble request linked to the simple figures, but hope for a better tomorrow. Judging by the figures alone, the music evokes something sorely missed.

Fidelio, a fairy-tale told from the boundless longing to bring Beethoven's "brotherly love" into our own world. It attempts to capture a humane utopia that loomed so large on the horizon but has long since dwindled away.

The characters in Fidelio are down-to-earth figures, as in a fairy-tale but, as in a fairy-tale, also much more.

Reading aloud or narrating the story, this "more" is no problem. The audience's imagination brings the figures alive – according to individual notions, experiences, dreams.

When the roles are played by real people in film or theatre, this may lend reality to the spectators' imagination, but this very reality makes any development into a hoped-for magical future implausible, and the effect is generally ridiculous.

This limitation does not apply to marionettes. Initially, they are simply a piece of wood, and only the spectators' imagination brings them to life. They can fly with ease, their gravitational force is in the heavens. At the other end, no-one can die so beautifully – dead wood, no longer animated, is simply dead.

This is perhaps how to tell the story of a prison and its inhabitants, prisoners and guards – the latter probably a lousy job, possibly pensionable, where they may try to shape a life in service, or servitude, by saving a little money and maintaining a touch of humour and the desire for a bit of home life. Into this world behind bars, where even the trees are barred, comes a woman ready to fight for love. Whoever comes into contact with her feels their heart reawakening.

A great fairy-tale, despite – or rather against – the failure of the French Revolution, despite Napoleon's delusions of grandeur, despite all the evil in the world, and against the ebbing of all hope – the basis of our life.

The heroine must go on, must venture down into deepest darkness, must pass through extreme fear to the point of no return, where life and death rub shoulders. Only then can there be redemption. Then there is gratitude and celebration and life is one great festivity. And they all live happily ever after.


In 1913 the sculptor Anton Aicher founded the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, opening with a performance of Mozart's Bastien und Bastienne. His performances were such a success that in the autumn of that very first year he went on tour. The repertoire was expanded to include children's fairy-tales, with the "Kasperl" (perhaps equivalent to Mr. Punch) as the main figure.

Anton Aicher

In 1926, Hermann Aicher received the Marionette Theatre from his father Anton as a wedding present, and used his technical knowledge to create a real miniature stage. In collaboration with the Mozarteum Academy, he rehearsed increasingly ambitious operas, and soon the repertoire included Mozart's smaller operas, such as Apollo et Hyacinthus or Der Schauspieldirektor [The Impresario].

During the period 1927–34, the theatre gave guest performances in Hamburg, Vienna and Holland, and visited Istanbul, Sofia and Athens. Moscow and Leningrad followed in 1936, in venues seating 2,500 – which necessitated new, larger marionettes. The special attraction was the marionette of the legendary ballerina Anna Pavlova, dancing the "dying swan".

The puppet of Anna Pavlova at a guest performance in Moscow/Leningrad 1936

From 1940-44 the Salzburg marionettes were sent to the front. Hermann Aicher was summoned to military service in 1944, and the Theatre was closed. After the end of the war, the marionettes immediately resumed their activities, first of all for the occupying troops. In 1947, they gave the first post-war German-language guest performance in the famous Paris Théâtre des Champs-Elysées. There followed a busy period with tours, guest performances, and new productions including Mozart's five major operas.

Scene from "The Magic Flute"

In 1971 the present theatre, adapted specifically to the requirements of the marionettes, was opened with Rossini's Barber of Seville.

Hermann Aicher died shortly after his 75th birthday, and his daughter Gretl took over the theatre. The marionettes toured Europe, America and Asia, in New York, Paris, Italy, Switzerland, Hong Kong and Japan.

In 1991, to mark the 200th anniversary of Mozart's death, Götz Friedrich staged Mozart's Così fan tutte.

1994/95 brought TV and video recordings of all five major Mozart operas, with Sir Peter Ustinov as narrator, and from 1992–97 several productions were staged in co-operation with the Salzburg Landestheater. In 1996, the Salzburg marionettes collaborated with the Salzburg Festival in Carl Maria von Weber's opera Oberon, in the Small Festival Hall.

Puppets for C. M. v. Webers "Oberon" at the Salzburg Festival 1996

1998 saw the first collaboration with the Salzburg Easter Festival, in Sergey Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf. To mark the 85th anniversary of the Marionette Theatre, the "World of Marionettes" museum was opened in Hohensalzburg Fortress.

In 2001, the theatre premièred the first spoken play for many years, with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. This was followed in December 2003 by the première of Humperdinck's opera Hansel and Gretel.

The 2006 Salzburg Festival marked the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth with performances of  all 22 operas; Bastien und Bastienne and Der Schauspieldirektor were staged in collaboration with the Marionette Theatre – a collaboration continued in 2007.

The world-famous Broadway musical The Sound of Music was premiered on November 2, 2007 in Dallas, Texas.

Puppets from "The Sound of Music"

In 2010 the Salzburg Marionette Theatre staged Claude Debussy's puppet ballet La boîte à joujoux (The Toy Box). The world-famous pianist Andràs Schiff initiated the project which was premiered at the Ittinger Pfingsttage (Switzerland). 2011 and 2012 The Little Prince and a short version of The Ring of the Nibelung in cooperation with Salzburg State Theatre were brought on stage.

The death of Gretl Aicher in 2012 marks the end of the Aicher family's ownership after three generations.

2013 the Salzburg Marionette Theatre celebrates its 100th anniversary with the production Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Alice in Wonderland.

In 2016, the Austrian UNESCO commission designated the operating technique developed by the Salzburg Marionette Theatre a "most highly developed form of puppet and figure theatre" and declared this sophisticated, fine-tuned method Intangible UNESCO Cultural Heritage (Austrian List). With new productions such as Fidelio by Ludwig van Beethoven, new scenic approaches are taken and the technique of puppetry is refined.

Scene from "Fidelio"

Since 1913 the Salzburg Marionette Theatre made 270 tours throughout the world.


Since 1971, the Salzburg Marionette Theatre has been housed the historic building at Schwarzstrasse 24 – on the right side of Salzburg's Old Town, between the Landestheater and the International Mozarteum Foundation, and between the River Salzach on the one side and the Mirabell Palace with its world-famous garden on the other.

After it was founded in a studio in the Künstlerhaus in 1913, then moved to the gymnasium of the old Borromäum, and spent ten years in the temporary premises of the Kapitelsaal, the Marionette Theatre settled in Schwarzstrasse 24. This building has its own chequered history: between the Villa Lasser (now the Mozarteum Foundation) and the municipal theatre, Count Arco-Zinneberg's Kaltenhausen brewery had a restaurant and function-rooms built in 1893. The architect was Carl Demel, the master builder Valentin Ceconi. In 1897, the function-rooms were converted into the Hotel Mirabell.

Until 1968, the Mirabell Casino was part of the hotel. In 1970 reconstruction work was begun, in order to give the Marionette Theatre a new home. The former dining-room of the hotel was converted into the auditorium with the stage. It is still impressive, with its elaborate stucco-work and opulent painting. In the course of repairs to the foyer in 2000, the original stucco-work was discovered, and since 2003 the foyer ceiling can be admired in its former splendour.

    Verein der Freunde

    Members know who pulls the strings ...

    In the Society of Friends of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre, you belong to our circle of close friends – who come backstage to get to know the puppeteers and their marionettes in person, and meet in special places. With our newsletter, you will be among the first to find out what's on the programme. You'll have exclusive access to rehearsals and you can take look behind the scenes with us, to see just who is pulling the strings.

    Come and be part of this circle – you'll find inspiration and good company, besides contributing with you membership fee to the care and maintenance of this unique UNESCO cultural heritage. Rest assured that your membership fee goes 100% to the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.

      Would you like to find out more?

      Join the Friends of the Salzburg Marionettes.

      Membership fee – friend: € 50.– per year

      Membership fee – patron: € 100.– per year

      Become a member now.

      Committee: Harald Labbow, Julia Heuberger-Denkstein, Barbara Ortner, Nina Eisenberger, Julia Skadarasy, Katharina Schneider, Eva Rutmann

      If you have any questions or would like to apply to join, please contact us at or directly with the application form.


        Sign up to be first in the know ...

        Would you like to be kept up to date on what's happening? – To gain exclusive insights behind the scenes? – To have advance information? Our newsletter will give you regular interesting details about the current programme, new productions and other Marionette Theatre projects – before everyone else learns about them.

        Bitte wählen Sie aus, wie Sie von uns hören möchten Salzburger Marionettentheater:  

        If you wish to stop receiving our newsletter – which we would find a great pity – you can click on the link at the bottom of the e-mail.

        Information on data protection is available at Data protection.