Sunday, July 12, 2015

Opulent and colorful "Night in Venice" in Mörbisch

A review of the latest production

A cruise ship on Lake Neusiedl is not seen every day. And such a sumptuous and colorful operetta as Thursday night at the premiere of Johann Strauss's "A Night in Venice" is also not often seen. Both singers, dancers and the ensemble "behind" set designer Walter Vogelweider -- Karl Absenger, Susanne Thomasberger -- were very impressive.

Anyone who might still be skeptical at director Dagmar Schellenbergers debut in this responsible position in 2013, must after this year's production throw all concerns literally overboard. Because the Mörbisch Lake Festival has ascended to the heights. One part of the impressive stage was rotated by hardworking staff on foot and then we saw the mighty ship with photography-mad tourists on deck, sometimes one even saw below deck.

Vocally shining in the costume drama and comedy of errors were, inter alia, Herbert Lippert as captain and his first officer, Caramallo, Mirko Roschkowski. The director herself was also on  stage  playing the lively Barbara with her interest in her muscle-bound nephew Enrico (Otto Jaus) because of her aged husband. Schellenberger shines especially with the "Schwipslied"  (Tipsy song) and rightly reaps  much applause.

This year's production stands out but not only vocally. Costume and dancers enter into a wonderfully harmonious symbiosis. The clothes: Thomas Berger was apparently among others inspired by Steampunk, which, although at first glance seems unusual for an operetta from the 18th century, but skilfully brought the Strauss classic into the present day. That one is in the 21st century, one notices at the latest when the first phone is seen or when someone is  complaining about missing SMS.

Things did not go entirely to plan on the opening night. Now and then there were some technical problems, particularly with the sound going up and down. Nevertheless, it is was well done, with impressive images and beautifully sung and played tunes (musical director: Andreas Schüller).  To start,  there were some beautiful fireworks synchronized with a musical water ballet - that's Schellenberger's signature and not to be missed. Mörbisch is - with or without a giant ship - Schellenberger's homeport.


Hofmeister, Serafin, Schellenberger at the Premiere

Verena Scheitz (as Agricola) with Prokopetz (as Senator Barbaruccio)

Herbert Lippert as Captain, with Elena Puszta (Annina)

Dagmar as Barbara Delacqua

The whole show is already online, though it did not run smoothly for me.

Tipsy song

I suddenly feel so strange,
Something is prickling and tickles my blood,
Something carries me far away in heaven’s delight,
And I must laugh, laugh for joy,
Also, because I feel like doing something stupid,
Maybe I am a little tipsy,
No, no, it can’t be so.

Before I drank from one glass,
Now I am drinking from two, how did that happen?
And then I wonder, if I only knew,
Did I kiss someone already today?

No, no, no, no, ha, ha, ha, ha…

I suddenly feel so strange, etc.

Hopsasa, tralala, oh, I know what I know!
Everything looks crooked, everything is turning in circles,
Everything that was standing still, I can tell,
I can’t trust it any more, it is dancing away;
And when I walk I feel like I am floating,
Until I finally get to the place I am trying to reach.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, ha, ha, ha, ha…

I suddenly feel so strange, etc.

Friday, July 10, 2015

"Very surprised and overwhelmed"

On Thursday evening, at the premiere of this year's operetta production at Mörbisch,  Harald Serafin, from 1992 to 2012 director of the festival, was awarded an honorary membership of the Festival by his successor Dagmar Schellenberger. Serafin expressed that he was "very surprised and overwhelmed".

The former Mörbisch director made an attempt to grab a microphone and  make a long speech -- to lots of laughs from the audience - as in his heyday as festival director. Schellenberger in turn hoped with a wink that he accepted the award anyhow.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

News from Moerbisch -- 3 July

A ship will come: On July 9,  on Lake Neusiedl a huge cruise ship will be at anchor. It is 30 meters in diameter, weighs at least a ton and is the centerpiece of the stage for the new production of Johann Strauss' operetta "A Night in Venice" at the Mörbisch Lake Festival 2015.

After a recent drop in attendance, the Open -Air Festival is  now improving. 7,000 visitors  more than 2013 were counted last season and the upcoming spectacular new production of the turbulent carnival comedy is expected to continue this trend.

Director Dagmar Schellenberger has engaged audience favorites like Joesi Prokopetz and Verena Scheitz as the main character.  Tenors Herbert Lippert and Heinz Zednik will also set a good tone.  The show has flirting, intrigue and hectic action

Original German here

More good news: "Due to the recently covered forecourt of 5,000m2 on two levels for the upcoming season we can guarantee that also during unfavourable weather situations our visitors won´t be exposed to the forces of nature anymore."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


(Sensation! 168,000 visitors to the lake stage at Moerbisch for "Anatevka", the Moerbisch version of "Fiddler on the roof". Most patrons had already seen the Broadway version. Lots of new patrons, including young people)

Die Intendantin der Seefestspiele Mörbisch im Burgenland (Österreich, Europa) Dagmar Schellenberger und ihr Team freuen sich über die gelungene Seebühnen-Saison 2014. 168.000 Besucherinnen und Besucher wurden in der Saison 2014 gezählt. Für Dagmar Schellenberger war es 2014 die zweite Saison als Intendantin und sie spielte in der Seefestspiel-Produktion "Anatevka" die Rolle der Golde.

Von den 168.000 Besuchern haben sich insgesamt 127.000 Besucher die Broadway-Produktion "Anatevka" angesehen. Der Musical-Klassiker "Anatevka" wurde in 23 Vorstellungen (21 reguläre Vorstellungstermine, 1 Generalprobe und 1 Sondervorstellung) von denen zwei regenbedingt abgesagt wurden, aufgeführt. Dies entspricht einer Auslastung von 91 Prozent. Zum Vorjahr konnte ein Besucherzuwachs von etwa 7.000 erreicht werden.

Dagmar Schellenberger: "Es ist uns dieses Jahr gelungen, unser Stammpublikum zu erfreuen und gleichzeitig viele Gäste anzulocken, die sonst nicht unbedingt nach Mörbisch kamen, vor allem viele junge Leute!" "Das bestärkt mich auf dem Weg", so die Seefestspiel-Intendantin weiter "traditionell inszenierte Operette in Mörbisch unregelmäßig auch mit klassischem Musical abzuwechseln."


Dagmar as "Golda"

The stage

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Behind the scenes at Moerbisch 2014

The video below has just been released.  It gives us a look at preparations for the 2014 performance of "Anatevka" and events surrounding it.  I was pleased to see that a lot of the original "Fiddler on the Roof" music was retained.

But what I liked best was that we are given a few good shots of a cheery Schellenberger.  And she is looking remarkably good for a lady in her late 50s.  That North German climate she grew up in is very kind to complexions.

The poor thing looked quite tense in the 2013 interview -- understandably as it was her first year of running the show there. She obviously felt under great pressure to get everything right. She did make some substantial changes, I gather. Anyway 2013 did apparently go well so in the 2014 interview she is back to what I believe is her normal cheerful self. Good to see.

No subtitles, unfortunately.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


You might have seen Dagmar Schellenberger already, if you have been to our festival. In this interview you get to know her a little bit better.

My favorite operetta... always the one that is currently occupying my mind, but I especially like the really opulent, classical pieces.

I like to relax...

...working in my garden. It has always been of great importance to me to have that possibility. Since I have moved to Burgenland, I even know about the cultivation of grapevines – I have some behind my house.

My family...

...supports me in everything I do. My daughter, son-in-law and my two (three by the end of this year!) grandchildren live in Berlin. For quick, spontaneous visits, that’s a long way. But fortunately nowadays there’s the internet and we can do videochats! In summer, they all come to Burgenland and visit the festival of course.

An on-stage-experince I will never forget...

...was when I actually broke my ankle during a show in 2000. I still finished singing „Les Contes d’Hoffmann“ and was rushed tot he Hospital afterwards. I needed surgery to put everything back in order.

My favourite dish...

... is nearly everything apart from herring. I particularly like a good steak every now and then.

What I like about Austria...

... ist the laid-back and humorous way people have about themselves. That made it really easy for me to feel at home here.

The fascinating thing about Lake Neusiedl is...

... how many colors it shows! According to time and light it might sparkle vividly yellow one moment and then turn into powerful red or majestic purple. This gem instantly put a spell on me and I am very glad to be able to live here now.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A review of Schellenberger's Bettelstudent

The review is anonymous -- from 2013. I am glad I now know who to blame for the wacky costumes. Something in period would surely have been better. What WAS the point of making the leading ladies look like beetles? -- JR

Dagmar Schellenberger must have felt tremendous relief following the premiere of Der Bettelstudent at this year’s Mörbisch Lake Festival. In her first year as the festival’s Intendantin, she was facing more than the usual pressures. Her predecessor was the enormously popular operetta star Harald Serafin, who had been in charge at Mörbisch for two decades, and who had been forced into retirement against his will (presumably because of mandatory age limits). He and his devoted fans were just waiting for Schellenberger to make a misstep.

On top of that, the soprano is a German now at the helm of one of Austria’s most popular summer festivals, and the old rivalries between the two countries still crop up from time to time. In any case, those hoping to see her fall flat on her face must have been sorely disappointed, as this year’s event proved to be a resounding success.

There was marvelous singing from the two tenors Gert Henning Jensen and Mirko Roschkowski as the Polish patriot, Count Opalinski, who had disguised himself as the student Jan Janicki, and his friend, Symon, the beggar student of the title.

With his imposing height and clear, radiant timbre, Jensen was ideal as the youthful adventurer who easily won the heart of Daniela Kalin’s charming Bronislava.

Roschkowski’s warmer, mellower instrument offered the necessary contrast to Jensen’s voice and was well-suited to the daydreamer who finds himself inadvertently caught up in a tangle of events.

Henryk Böhm made the ranting and raving Colonel Ollendorf the comedic center of the show, backed by an attractively singing quintet of his officers and Olaf Plassa as the jailer, Enterich.

Cornelia Zink sang Laura with a glowing, innocent soprano.

On the podium of the festival orchestra, conductor Uwe Theimer supplied plenty of lilting mazurka rhythms in the crowd scenes, but also took the time to highlight the score’s lyrical beauty.

This attention to detail was made possible by the new orchestra hall located behind the seating area, from which their music was fed to the stage area in an arrangement similar to that used at Austria’s other major lake festival at Bregenz.

Director Ralf Nürnberger’s wacky staging was matched by Susanne Thomasberger’s over-the-top costumes with towering wigs and enormous, ballooning hoopskirts.

In contrast, Yadegar Asisi’s unpretentious sets featured a simple city wall that blocked the lake view, and gigantic cabinet-like elements that stage workers opened up to reveal the buildings of Krakow.

Frau Schellenberger’s plans for the 2014 Lake Festival include performances of Anatevka (i.e., Fiddler on the Roof), as well as Mörbisch’s first-ever children’s music theater work composed specifically for the festival, to be performed in the new 300-seat purpose-built facility.