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Fairy tales, musicals and westerns - theater in open-air season

A sandstone cliff frames the Rathen rock stage in Saxon Switzerland / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/Archivbild
A sandstone cliff frames the Rathen rock stage in Saxon Switzerland / Photo: Sebastian Kahnert/dpa/Archivbild

In the warmer months of the year, many people enjoy an evening at the theater in the open air. And the theaters use the season for many an opulent performance. Plays for the whole family are particularly popular.

Saxony's theaters have geared up for the summer season and are returning to the open-air stages. The family play "Pippi and the Seven Seas" kicked off the open-air season in Chemnitz at the weekend. In Rathen, the Felsenbühne has been playing again since May, and the theater people will return to the Greifensteine in the Erzgebirge on June 22. The season will open there with the production of "Krabat" by Jasmin Sarah Zamani. Every year, there are mainly plays for the whole family in the open air, but also romantic theater and opera material.

The summer productions always meet with great interest, explained Theresa Schultz, spokeswoman for the Chemnitz Theater. The atmosphere in the open air and in the forest, combined with a children's play that is intended for the whole family: "That seems to go down particularly well, as the bookings show." In addition, the theater of the future European Capital of Culture is now celebrating its tenth anniversary on the Küchwaldbühne.

The Felsenbühne Rathen started the festival season in Saxon Switzerland in May with a new work about Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. In addition to the newly interpreted adventure play called "Shatterhand", six other productions and a total of 89 performances await visitors until September 8, said spokesman Benjamin Abicht from the Saxon State Theatres. These include Carl Maria von Weber's "Der Freischütz" and Richard Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" - two romantic operas that have a special effect against the backdrop of the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, according to Apitz.

Performances for families are a focal point at the Rathen open-air stage, which is used by the Landesbühnen. This includes "Peter Pan" by Manuel Schöbel - last year's most successful play with over 17,000 visitors. In the current festival season, other family classics such as "The Cold Heart" and "Pettersson and Findus" will be added. Last year, 73,000 visitors came to the Felsenbühne.

The Plauen-Zwickau Theater puts on one major summer production each summer. "We present ourselves with a large cast. The sets and costumes are opulent," enthused spokeswoman Carolin Eschenbrenner. This year there will be a musical premiere for families - recommended for ages eight and up: "Snow White and Me", a modern version of the fairy tale of Snow White. It starts in Zwickau on August 3 on the stage at the Schwanenteich and in Plauen's Parktheater on August 24.

"Due to the early school summer vacation, we are going into the summer break very early and will only start the musical afterwards," explained Eschenbrenner. Open-air family plays are also well received in Plauen and Zwickau. "Many people want to take their children with them." Some of the performances start at 4 p.m. in line with audience requests. "At the Plauen Park Theater in particular, many families take advantage of the spacious grounds and arrive long before the start." There are fairytale plays for the children. In addition, there is the comedy "The Servant of Two Masters" as a smaller production, which can be visited in the Theaterhof Plauen and Schönfels Castle in the district of Zwickau.

On 22 June, the Greifenstein Festival begins for ten weeks on the natural stage in the Ore Mountains. "Krabat" is a Sorbian legend about a poor miller's boy who frees himself from the clutches of his demonic master. The children's play "Keine Angst vor Hotzenplotz" and the operetta "Herz über Bord" will also return to the program, according to the Erzgebirgische Theater- und Orchester GmbH. With the musical "Monty Python's Spamalot" and the family theater "Drachen haben nichts zu lachen", two premieres are also planned for this season.

This summer, Schauspiel Leipzig is setting up its open-air stage in the courtyard of the Grassimuseum. "There is a cemetery behind it and the atmosphere with the pillars of the museum building fits in well with our vampire story this year," says spokeswoman Sarah Schramm. It is entitled "Nosferatu" and premieres on August 15. Here, too, performances do not begin until after the summer vacation. "But we will be playing until September." The museum courtyard will have room for 200 visitors.

The 27 events of the summer season at the Naturtheater Bad Elster - the oldest of its kind in Saxony - will focus on the 700th anniversary of the town, said Stephan Seitz from Chursächsische Veranstaltungs GmbH. "We offer operas, musicals, fairytale classics and comedy." Collaborations are planned this year with the Landesbühnen Sachsen, the Semperoper Dresden, the North Bohemian Theater from Ústí nad Labem in the Czech Republic and the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra.

The Nature Theatre was built in the forest above the spa town in 1911. It fell into disrepair in later decades before being reopened almost twenty years ago - now with a retractable roof for the 1,500 spectators. Seitz: "The combination of culture and nature is unique. It often feels as if the birds in the forest are singing along to the songs."

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