Carnival of the Animals

Carnival of the Animals – an Animalic Trilogy
I. The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant: After the children's book by Jean de Brunhoff (1899–1937), music by Francis Poulenc (1899–1963)
II. Ferdinand: After the children's book by Munro Leaf (1905–1976), music by Alan Ridout (1934–1996)
III. The Carnival of the Animals: Music by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
In German with explanations in English
Recommended for adults and children from 8 years
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes
In co-operation with:
Musical direction: Benjamin Schmid
Tonmeister: Sascha Tekale
Flute, piccolo: Eiko Yagi
Clarinet: Marie-Theres Schindler
Glockenspiel, Xylophone: Gregor Resch
Piano four hands: Jiayin Li, Asuka Tagmi; Yelyzaveta Pachabut, Caitlan Rinaldy
Violin: Benjamin Schmid
Violoncello: Jeremias Fliedl
Double bass: Roberto Di Ronza
The recording was made exclusively for the Salzburg Marionette Theatre in cooperation with the Mozarteum University Salzburg. 
Concept, dramaturgy, light: Herbert Kapplmüller, Lisa Stumpfögger
Direction: Lisa Stumpfögger
Puppets, set design: Herbert Kapplmüller
Narrator: Hanna Schygulla

Puppet making: Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher, Vladimir Fediakov, Emanuel Paulus
Costume workshop: Edouard Funck, Marion Mayer, Anne-Lise Droin, Dana Tiefenbacher, Josephine Laubenbacher
Prop making: Eva Wiener, Ursula Winzer
Carpenter's workshop: Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher, Emanuel Paulus, Günther Schöllbauer
Metalworking: Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher, Alexander Proschek
Production stage set: Firma Hertzer Berlin, Herr Timo Schubert
Print set design: Big Image Potsdam
Lighting: Günther Schöllbauer
Technician, sound: Alexander Proschek

Direction: Philippe Brunner
Puppet: Vladimir Fediakov
Illustrations: Clemens Birsak
Violin: Benjamin Schmid
Narrator: Matthias Bundschuh
Light: Günther Schöllbauer

Puppet making: Vladimir Fediakov, Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Stage construction: Günther Schöllbauer
Foil printing: Hannes Auer
Technician, sound: Alexander Proschek

Concept: Philippe Brunner, Matthias Bundschuh
Direction, set design: Matthias Bundschuh
Light: Matthias Bundschuh, Günther Schöllbauer
Puppets, costumes: Barbara Weinhold
Musical arrangement: Philipp Schmidt

Puppet making: Günter Weinhold
Costume workshop: Edouard Funck, Marion Mayer, Heide Hölzl, Dana Tiefenbacher, Anne-Lise Droin
Prop making: Eva Wiener, Ursula Winzer, Emanuel Paulus, Maximilien Kiener-Laubenbacher
Carpenter's workshop: Harald Schöllbauer, Verena Scheubele, Günther Schöllbauer
Metalworking: Alexander Proschek, Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Technician, sound: Alexander Proschek

Thanks to: Prof. Andreas Groethuysen, Prof. Benjamin Schmid, Stefan David Hummel
The production was made possible thanks to the kind support of the Society of Friends of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.
We thank the Salzburg Festival for the textile donations.

Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
Marion Mayer
Emanuel Paulus
The Old Lady
Anne-Lise Droin
The Elephant King
Emanuel Paulus
Anne-Lise Droin
The Monkey
Philipp Schmidt
The Marabu
Edouard Funck
The ensemble
Vladimir Fediakov, Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher
The Maestro
Eva Wiener
Ursula Winzer
Edouard Funck
Emanuel Paulus
Vladimir Fediakov
Philippe Brunner
Maximilian Kiener-Laubenbacher, Ursula Winzer
The Chicken
Anne-Lise Droin
The Turtle
Emanuel Paulus
The Elephant
Marion Mayer
The Donkey
Vladimir Fediakov, Philippe Brunner
The Cuckoo
Anne-Lise Droin
The Skeleton
Philipp Schmidt

Premiere: June 15, 2023

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

The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant

The little elephant Babar enjoys a carefree childhood in the jungle until his mother is shot by a hunter. Left to his own devices, he flees and arrives in a town. Thanks to an old lady who gives him a home, he participates in the life of the humans: he visits a shopping mall, does gymnastics and drives a car. Still, he often feels nostalgic when he thinks of the jungle. Two years later, during a walk, he accidentally meets Arthur and Celeste, his cousins.

Babar shows them his new life. One day, however, when they are picked up by their mothers, he decides to come along and says goodbye to the old lady with a heavy heart. Back in the jungle, the three are welcomed with jubilation. Babar and Celeste, who got engaged on the car, are chosen by the elephants as the new royal couple.


Ferdinand is no ordinary young bull. While his peers fight with each other all day in the meadow, he prefers to sit alone under a cork oak and enjoy the scent of the flowers. Even when one day Spanish men come by to find a bull for their fights, he is hardly interested. But things turn out differently than expected: Ferdinand accidentally sits down on a bumblebee, is stung and rages in pain - and thus it is he whom the men choose and take to the bullfight. In the arena, the situation becomes grotesque when Ferdinand shows his true nature, only smelling the flowers in the Spanish women's hair and completely disregarding the matador. So in the end they have to bring him back home.

The Carnival of the Animals

The classroom is bored, and the teacher's experiments don't really want to succeed either.

So, without further ado, a trip to the zoo is undertaken, during which the schoolchildren experience various things: Some make wondrous discoveries at a pond, others dress up as birds or dream themselves into another world. The schoolmaster himself makes a lady elephant dance with his double bass and receives a flower from her - but not all the animals enjoy the musical performances as much ... Back in the classroom, the children make music together with a skeleton from biology class. After everyone has left, the schoolmaster begins to dance obliviously. In the end, they all come together in a gymnastics lesson and put on a big ballet.

About the play

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.

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