Royal Children

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July 2020 Next

Sixteen years after the career-defining success of Hänsel und Gretel, Engelbert Humperdinck successfully returned to the enchanted forest – venturing, this time, into its darker depths for the adult fairytale, Königskinder. Else Bernstein-Porges’  mysterious play of the same name had long fascinated the composer, inspiring his ground-breaking 1897 melodrama setting of the entire play, with musically notated speech. While this courageous experiment failed, Humperdinck’s obsession with the subject endured, finally resulting in the fully-fledged operatic settingof 1910. At its Metropolitan Opera premiere, the work earned triumphant applause, being hailed as “the most important opera since Parsifal” – and delighting the audience through to the curtain call when soprano Geraldine Farrar took her bow clutching one of the live geese she had personally trained for the staging. The ‘Königskinder’ of the title are two young people who have grown up far from society – a goose-girl raised in isolation by a witch in the woods, and a prince born with a silver spoon in his mouth in an impenetrable palace. At a chance meeting, these two outsiders fall in love, leading them to undertake separate quests to the leaderless town of Hellabrunn in the valley below – where they will learn that the world outside is not always nor wise. For experience of the comes with a heavy price in Königskinder, as the young learn that all fairytales can have happy endings. Nature and civilization come into conflict in this new production directed by Matthew Wild, with dream-like designs by Herbert Murauer which zntensify the “odd poetry” of the text, as Humperdinck lovingly described it.

Program and cast

Conductor: Giedrė Šlekytė

Stage Director: Matthew Wild

Stage & Costume Design: Herbert Murauer

Light Design: Olaf Winter


King's son: Gerard Schneider

Goose maid: Elizabeth Reiter

Spielmann: Iain MacNeill

Witch: Katharina Magiera

Woodcutter: Thomas Gazheli

Broombinder: Jaeil Kim

Council Elder: Franz Mayer

Landlord: Oskar Hillebrandt

Host daughter: Kelsey Lauritano

Tailor: Michael Petruccelli

Stable maid: Valerie Eickhoff

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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