International Meistersinger Academy Neumarkt i.d.Opf.

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July 2020


Ten years ago Edith Wiens founded the International Mastersinger Academy (IMA). Her visionary intention was to create a German training centre to give young singers the ‘final polish’ for their singing career and provide them with a network for their profession. The academy’s success has proved her to be right: in the meantime the graduates of the IMA sing in the world’s major opera houses. The soloists in today’s opera concert can be heard on the most renowned opera stages. For instance, soprano Gabriella Reyes of Nicaraguan-American origin made her debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the 2018/2019 season, and further engagements followed. Since the beginning of this season Samantha Hankey has been a member of the ensemble of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich. Hubert Zapiór can also be heard there – Edith Wiens became acquainted with the Polish baritone at the renowned Juilliard School in New York. US-American James Ley also studied at the Juilliard School. Last year the tenor performed at the Salzburg Festival. These young, internationally acclaimed singers now come together in Erl and present arias and ensembles from grand opera. They are accompanied by the Tyrol Festival Orchestra Erl conducted by Beomseok Yi, resident conductor in Erl.

Program and cast

Orchestra of the Tyrolean Festival Erl

Conductor: Beomseok Yi

Soprano: Gabriella Reyes

Baritone: Hubert Zapiór

Mezzosoprano: Samantha Hankey

Tenor: James Ley

Festspielhaus Erl



Designed by Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, Vienna, the extraordinary structure boasts 862 seats (130 of which are flexible seats near the orchestra) and the world’s largest orchestra pit (160-sq meters). The total useable surface is 7,000-square meter. General contractor was STRABAG, project manager Ing. Georg Höger.


The new Festspielhaus respects and compliments the architecture of the old Passionsspielhaus and its natural surroundings in a unique way: in the summer, when the Tyrolean Festival Erl or the Passion Plays take place at the white Passionsspielhaus, the dark Festspielhaus will blend with the dark forest, allowing the Passionsspielhaus to be dominant. In the winter it is the other way round: while the white Passionsspielhaus will fade into the surroundings, the dark Festspielhaus will stand out against the white landscape.


The Festspielhaus offers the modern infrastructure that has been sorely missing at the Passionsspielhaus, including a foyer with cloakroom, modern stage machinery, several rehearsal rooms and plenty of space for administrative offices. The Festspielhaus provides the Tyrolean Festival Erl with the basic conditions it needs to ensure the Festival’s success will continue into the future.




The Passionsspielhaus in Erl, built between 1957 and 159 on plans by architect Robert Schuller, is an architectural and acoustic masterpiece. The structure blends with its surroundings and is a visual extension of the adjoining mountains.
Thanks to its striking shape the Passionspielhaus instantly became Erl’s greatest landmark. Austria’s largest orchestra theater accommodates up to 1500 visitors. The 25-meter wide stage is tiered and provides a spectacular backdrop for the 500 passion play actors as well as the orchestra of the Tyrolean Festival Erl, which performs onstage as there is no orchestra pit. 


A café serving snacks and beverages was added in 1997 and an Art Room for 150 visitors was opened in 2003.  
When the Festspielhaus was renovated between October 2006 and April 2007 all sanitary facilities were upgraded; an “orchestra pit” with scissor lift and a substructure for the main stage were added; the auditorium got equipped with a deaf loop system and a new floor; the catwalk, the exterior design, the cellar beneath the donkey ramp, the refreshment stand, all electrical installations and the ventilation system were replaced; and the wardrobe and the stairway renovated.  






Germany, Eastern Austria
A8 Munich-Salzburg, Autobahndreieck Inntal, A 93, Motorway exit Nussdorf/Brannenburg or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf

Italy, Switzerland, Western Austria
Inntalautobahn A 12, motorway exit Kufstein Nord or Oberaudorf/Niederndorf; from Italy: after Brenner Pass take A 13 and A 12 (approx. 1 h 20 min to Erl); from the Swiss border it’s a 3 hour drive to Erl; the entire journey is on motorways and expressways.

In Austria, the use of motorways and expressways is subject to payment of a toll.

Munich – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Salzburg – Erl approx. 1 hour by car
Innsbruck – Erl approx. 45 hour by car



All long distance and regional trains stop in Kufstein. 




Innsbruck (90 km),
Salzburg (90 km),
München (110 km).


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