Maria Stuart

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January 1970

England in the second half of the 16th century. An unremitting struggle over influence and power is raging on the island — as in the whole of Europe — between supporters of the burgeoning Protestant Reformation and Catholics loyal to the Pope. In the night of 23—24 August 1572 the conflict reaches a preliminary bloody peak in France, where thousands of Protestants lose their lives overnight in the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre.

One has to consider the most famous of all feuds between two queens — Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots — against this backdrop of this mounting death toll spread across Europe. ‘For behind these personal differences of character and disposition there loured, like huge and menacing spectres casting their shadows over the destiny of the British queens, the gigantic opposing forces of the epoch’ (Stefan Zweig): one in the form of the Protestant, unmarried queen of England, under whose dispassionate, reformist rule the island enjoys a period of prosperity; the other with the extroverted character of Mary, Queen of Scots, an ardent Catholic, adherent of the old, medieval order, and notorious for her romantic involvements with men.

In 1800, Friedrich Schiller produced his masterful literary monument to this conflict. Mary Stuart has made a legitimate claim to the throne currently occupied by Elizabeth. Suspected of complicity in the death of Lord Darnley, her second husband, she then flees from Scotland to England. But instead of offering protection to Mary, Queen Elizabeth keeps her prisoner for years. Numerous attempts to rescue her are made by Catholics, yet none succeed. The courtiers who advise Elizabeth are riven by divisions: should Mary be allowed to live? Or should the crowned monarch be sentenced to death and executed? What will Elizabeth ultimately decide to do?

Mary Stuart is a political thriller, a work that takes historical licence and an impassioned reflection on questions that troubled Schiller throughout his life: what is individual freedom? What is political power and where does it end? What is justice? How are laws made and justified? And in what kind of state do we want to live?

The Salzburg Festival’s centennial season will be marked by the first production of this work from Schiller’s late period in the Salzburg Festival’s history. It will be staged by Martin Kušej, artistic director of the Burgtheater in Vienna, and stars the peerless actresses Bibiana Beglau as Elizabeth and Birgit Minichmayr as Mary Stuart.

Program and cast

Creative Team

Martin Kušej - Director
Annette Murschetz - Sets
Heide Kastler - Costumes
Bert Wrede - Music
Friedrich Rom - Lighting
Alexander Kerlin - Dramaturgy


Bibiana Beglau - Elisabeth, Queen of England
Birgit Minichmayr - Maria Stuart, Queen of Scotland
Itay Tiran - Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
Oliver Nägele - Georg Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury
Norman Hacker - Wilhelm Cecil, Lord Burleigh
Franz Pätzold - Mortimer
and others

Coproduction with the Burgtheater Wien

Perner-Insel, Hallein

Perner-Insel, Hallein

“White Gold” (salt) was extracted for four thousand years near Hallein and this is what gave the region and the capital of the province its name. In 1989 the salt works were closed down. Various influential people involved in cultural life took the initiative to have the brine hall on the island in the middle of the River Salzach transformed into a theatre which is now used regularly by the Salzburg Festival. The conversion work in 1992 needed only an 80-day building period; six years later, new, more elaborate seating arrangements were installed as well as an interval area.

The hall is especially suitable for experimental theatre and concerts of contemporary music whereby the performance and audience areas can be adapted to the scenic concept of the production in question. In 1999 the marathon performances entitled Schlachten!, Luc Perceval’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s history plays, on the Perner Island achieved cult status.


How to get there

Adress & contact

Perner-Insel, Hallein
Pernerinsel, 5400 Hallein

The foyers are opened to Festival visitors one hour before the beginning of each performance.

Tel.: +43 662 8045 0

Public transport

Bus stop Heidebrücke
Lines 41, 160, 170

Departure in front of Reichenhaller Strasse 4
(Buses depart to Perner-Insel, Hallein, 1h before the performance begins and return directly after the performance.)


Parking place Perner-Insel
Perner-Insel, 5400 Hallein

Opening hours: daily 0-24 h

You can purchase a parking ticket for 2€ in the courtyard. By purchasing your parking ticket there, you save yourself the way to the ticket machine and can immediately drive out the parking lot following the end of the performance.

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