OPERA Walter Braunfels: The Birds

"The Birds" by Walter Braunfels
by Tina Lanik

Sat. 20. July 2019 (Premiere)
Sat. 27 July 2019


In 1918 Walter Braunfels returned home wounded from the First World War. Afterwards he completed the work he had begun in 1913 on the opera Die Vögel, but in a decisive aspect deviated from the work by Aristophanes on which it was based. In the opera by Braunfels it does indeed come to a war between the birds and Zeus, which leads to the destruction of the bird fortress. Incited to take part in a senseless war, the birds are helped by two human beings, Ratefreund and Hoffegut, who formerly came to the birds, hoping to find a Utopia in contrast. Against the historical background this opera appears to be visionary as far as our present, and like a parable it shows the hubris of mankind, in which patriotism, ruthlessness, misuse of power, an exaggerated opinion of oneself and egoism have largely taken over political activity in our time too. The words of warning and admonition by Prometheus are an example but they go unheard due to the birds’ hubris. At the apocalyptic culmination there is a moment of longing and melancholy, poetry of the perfect instant between the nightingale and Hoffegut, when everything appears to be possible, and all borders between the real and the imagined world seem to dissolve. The past, which admonishes us, the present to which we are exposed and sometimes face in perplexity, and the Utopian, poetic and theatrical aspects of this opera are the starting point of the staging.

Program and cast

Musical direction: Lothar Zagrosek
Director: Tina Lanik
Stage design: Stefan Hageneier
Costumes: Heidi Hackl


Council Friend: Julian Orlishausen
Court estate: Marlin Miller
Prometheus: Thomas Gazheli
Hoopoe: James Roser
Nightingale: Bianca Tognocchi
Fence slips:r Sabina von Walther
Adle:r Adam Horvath
Flamingo: Giorgio Valenta

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July 2019
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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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