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Good start to the festival season

from: shz-Online – by: Constanze Emde

EUTIN New season, new managers, new stage - the preparations of the festival for the 69th season are in full swing. More than 9400 tickets, a good 1500 more than last year, have been sold for the musical "Kiss me, Kate" and the Verdi opera "A Masked Ball" so far, the festival managers were delighted. "Both are on the same level. This is a sign that the mixture was wanted and that the seeds of the past year were sown," said Festspiele Managing Director Falk Herzog, who was also pleased that he was able to win Hardy Rudolz as artistic director for the next two years. After "The Flower of Hawaii" in 2012 and "My fair Lady" last year, he is now bringing "Kiss me, Kate" to the festival stage.

He actually wanted to quit his job after a life as a European musical star on the big stages, Rudolz said. But when he noticed how good it was at the Eutin Festival and how good the team's mix was, he liked to change his mind. "I lived my whole life out of a suitcase. I'm at home here, and I'm happy to be there," said Rudolz, who lives in the Duchy of Lauenburg. In addition to his enthusiasm for the current play "Kiss Me, Kate", which is performed in German, he also has other ideas up his sleeve to make the festival more present during the gloomy season - through concerts, small shows or productions for children and young people.

This year, the festival will present the singspiel "Abu Hassan" by Carl Maria von Weber in collaboration with the Lübecker Musikhochschule as well as cast children's stars from Eutin to the youngest audience. The musical director is Romely Pfund, Jennifer Toelstede directs. "With around 200 seats, the Torhaus offers us a chance for experiments. We do not see a children's programme as a one-off event, but want to expand it in cooperation with schools and day-care centres in the region," said Herzog. In advance, investment in seating, lighting and technology would be necessary, but this would pay off in terms of quality and other projects.

Director Dominique Caron is looking forward to the challenging staging of Giuseppe Verdi's masked ball in her last season. "In addition to Nabucco, the Troubadour and Aida, we then showed the crème de la crème of the Verdi operas," said Caron. As with the musical, rich singing alone is not enough. "There is great expectation of the ensemble in terms of dancing and acting skills and of the four-voice heraldic choir, which is little accompanied by the orchestra," Caron said. She is delighted to have Hilary Griffiths as her conductor this season.

The unseen masterpiece, The Rehearsal Time for Musical and Opera at the Festival, at just under three and a half weeks, is only half as long as in other theatres. This demands a lot from the artists, say the two responsible persons Caron and Rudolz. "But what is often not seen is the masterpiece of the excellent tailors and many people behind the scenes, who all contribute to the success on stage," emphasized Caron. An initial costume idea sketched in pencil on paper had to become something tangible made of fabric, either borrowed or created from scratch on location. For the musical alone, about 19 dancers performed alongside the soloists, plus the ensemble for the masked ball and the choir. All had to be dressed - all within the short rehearsal period.

Criticism as an opportunity to make a difference In addition to numerous positive and satisfied feedback from the past season, the Festspiele also takes the critical comments seriously. Although the Opera Barn has already undergone some visual changes, the toilet situation is still noticed negatively here and there. "We won't manage to renew everything at the same time, but we won't charge any more in the sanitary facilities this season than a reaction to the feedback," Herzog said. Other criticism came after the only cancelled event last August. The fire brigade had sent the visitors home in coordination with the festival due to a thunderstorm with heavy rain. Thereupon a measure catalog for such cases was again adapted and revised.

Investments in new stage and future In addition to the acquisition of technology for the gatehouses and other innovations in the catering sector, the Eutin Festival is investing this season in a new basic stage structure. "So far, the stage has been a slope adapted to the hill, but you can't dance on it," said Herzog. A flat surface is not possible at the current venue, but a step-like arrangement of different levels is. "We opted for a modular system from southern Germany that can also be used universally as a stage in other places," Herzog said. Especially with a view to the necessary renewal of the grandstand, there would then be the flexibility to play at other locations. Herzog put the investment at around 60,000 euros for the basic scaffolding. Some of the old structures are 20 years and older, and with a length of seven or eight meters they also take up a lot of space when it comes to storage. The new module pieces are much more practical and smaller, saving assembly, disassembly and conversion times. "And we have to become more flexible if we want to think about more ideas and more pieces," Herzog demanded. Apropos flexible: The Festspiele currently has no financing problem, but "we want to become more professional, and we can only do that if we can reliably plan for the long term," Herzog said with a view to the sponsors. The aim of this season is to present and promote the 2020 season with the premiere of "Kiss me, Kate" on 28 June. "The city of Eutin, the business association and tourism must recognise and use the value that the festival has for themselves".

Changes at the Festspiele Arend Knoop, previously co-partner of Eutiner Festspiele GmbH alongside Joachim Scheele and Managing Director Falk Herzog, sold his shares to Eutiner Festspiele GmbH at the end of the 2018 financial year. Knoop had already indicated some time ago that he would be withdrawing from the economic responsibility of the Festspiele. "He does this for health reasons and because he would like to spend more time with his family," said Falk Herzog, adding: "The Festspiele owes much to Arend Knoop. With his unconventional, tackling nature and his great commitment, he had solved many problems. In future, the responsibility will be distributed over several shoulders. In the new year there is a new lighting master and a new stage designer, both of whom are experienced in the festival sector. The new stage designer is Jörg Brombacher.

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