Istropolis Philharmonic OrchestraConductor: Larry BlankOrchestration: Robert Russell BennettChoir Arrangements: Trude Rittmann
Special thanks to: Ted Chapin, Timothy Crouse, Bert Fink, Bruce Pomahac
More information about „The Sound of Music“ and Musicals by Rodgers & Hammerstein at www.rnh.com
Performance by arrangement with Josef Weinberger Ltd., London for The Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, New York.
Licensor for Austria: Josef Weinberger Wien GmbH
Premiere: Dallas, November 2, 2007
The puppets and the equipment were made in the workshops of the Salzburg Marionette Theatre.
Maria, a postulant at Nonnberg Abbey, is too free-spirited to accept the discipline of the order easily and frequently escapes to the mountains. So the Mother Abbess arranges for Maria to work as a governess for the wealthy, aristocratic navy captain Georg von Trapp – a widower with seven children. The Captain runs the household as strictly as he does the ships he sails on.
With kindness and understanding, and by adding music to their normally rigorous schedule, Maria wins the children’s hearts. The Captain, increasingly captivated by Maria, falls in love with her; she returns his affection. Although Captain von Trapp is engaged to the elegant socialite Elsa Schraeder, he eventually marries Maria.
But the Trapps’ married life is quickly disrupted by Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria. They return from their honeymoon to find a telegram summoning the Captain to serve in the navy of the Third Reich. But the Captain is a patriot, passionate about the fulfilling life that Austria has always offered its citizens.
The family has become well known as an amateur singing group, and at the instigation of a family friend, Max Detweiler, the Trapps make a final appearance at the Salzburg Festival. At the end of the performance they manage to escape to Nonnberg Abbey, and from there they cross the mountains on foot to Switzerland.
The Sound of MusicMariaDo Re MiSixteen Going on SeventeenMy Favourite ThingsSo Long, FarewellClimb every Mountain
No Way To Stop ItProcessional (Maria)Sixteen Going on Seventeen RepriseDo Re Mi RepriseEdelweissSo Long, Farewell RepriseClimb Every Mountain Reprise
The Lonely Goatherd
The opportunity to create a ninety minute adaptation of “The Sound of Music” for puppetry where the story takes place, with the full cooperation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Estate, proved to be irresistible. We were able to do research, in preparation for the production, by simply walking out onto the streets of Salzburg and walking in the lovely hills that surround the city. Of greater importance to me though was to grab the chance to redefine the piece for the vulnerable, fragile and thrilling artform of puppetry. It was my goal to explore and celebrate the uses of this artform and to show the manifold, almost eerie, skills of the marvellous Salzburg Marionette Theater. We wanted to create a version with its own rules and vocabulary. Puppets can defy gravity and effectively express their passions and fears through distilled physical gesture. The Marionette Theater, more accustomed to doing the operas of Mozart, has been waiting for an opportunity to explore their own possibilities. With this in mind, we have been able to experiment with scale, to use of doubles of the characters and to have puppets interact with people. All of this has been done with the desire to take this story to a more mythic level that can reach many different age groups and cultures as it tours the world. In addition to operating the puppets this company of ten puppeteers handcrafts all of the scenery and puppets from scratch.
This enabled us to create the characters from the inside out. After working very closely with the puppet and costume designer Anita Yavich, the sketches were presented to a Swiss puppet carver and then to the puppeteers. In a sense, these characters are “custom made”.
The limbs are attached by the puppeteers to reflect the individual characteristics and movement of everything we requested. Perhaps the greatest thrill is to watch the show from backstage because the choreography up in the grid, above the stage, is extraordinary. Ten puppeteers are often operating fourteen puppets and they must move in and around each other, in the tightest of spaces, with great agility. It is one thing to ask for an intricate choreography on the stage and quite another to accomplish this feat up in the air surrounded by nine other puppeteers. There are nearly a hundred puppets used in the show and the passing off of puppets while continuing to play the scenes is nothing short of extraordinary.
How can The Sound of Music be performed using marionettes? How do the puppeteers go about staging it? First of all, they have to know the text and the music really well, especially their own roles, in order to decide together with the stage director on the characteristics of the figures, and to work out details. Every feature has to show in the movements of a figure, to give the audience a clear picture of a person and to distinguish this figure from others. The puppeteers are really “hidden actors” who transmit character and emotion through the strings into the puppet. The Sound of Music presented particular problems in the large-scale scenes with many figures necessitating choreography, in the quick scene-changes and the different stage-sets involved, and in the departure from the “operatic” style, to allow the figures more natural movements, giving a more realistic 1930s impression.
Rendering the “swing” of a musical was a new experience for all concerned, and the entire team was faced with major tasks. It was often a delicate balancing act, to work out dialogues, songs and dance interludes while taking into account the specific characteristics of marionettes, exploiting especially their grace and their archaic power. Perhaps the greatest challenge was the direction of operations on the bridge; this demanded discipline, stamina and flexibility from both stage director and puppeteers, to achieve the optimal version of the piece. The six-week rehearsal period imposes a strict schedule, within which all factors have to be combined into a whole.
Since the puppeteers are also responsible for the scene-changes, stage machinery and background logistics, maximum concentration and commitment is demanded of every one of them, to make the show go like clockwork. This would not be possible without enthusiasm, enjoyment and team spirit – and of course, the incentive of presenting to our audience a flawless and entertaining performance, taking them into a world of consummate illusion.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Membership fee – friend: € 50.– per year
Membership fee – patron: € 100.– per year
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Committee: Harald Labbow, Julia Heuberger-Denkstein, Barbara Ortner, Nina Eisenberger, Julia Skadarasy, Katharina Schneider, Eva Rutmann
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