Final concert

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January 1970

“The Scottish Highlands and the sea brew nothing together but whisky, fog and bad weather”, commented Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy in 1829 at the age of twenty, when he was travelling with a friend through England and Scotland. And yet he was deeply impressed by the Hebrides, the group of islands shrouded in legends in the midst of the raging sea which inspired Mendelssohn to compose the piece he later published as the Hebrides Overture. One can almost imagine hearing the squawking of the seagulls and the crashing of the waves, as well as sensing the loneliness of a human being, surrounded by the boundless expanse of the sea. Mendelssohn’s true destination on his journey was in fact London, not Scotland. Besides performances of his works he also found time to visit the British Museum where he discovered George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Israel in Egypt. Ten years later, inspired by Handel’s work, Mendelssohn composed his Psalm 114 When Israel went out of Egypt. From England the next destination is China as imagined by Gustav Mahler and Hans Bethge. Bethge’s collection The Chinese Flute contains free adaptations of the poetry from the Tang dynasty; from this Mahler created music about earthly mortality. His Lied von der Erde (Song of the Earth) is in fact a symphony in the form of six orchestral songs. In them he sets the circle of life to music, from youth to the farewell, and later he wrote about them, “I think this is probably the most personal work I have created so far.”

Program and cast

"The Hebrides"
Overture op. 26 MWV P 7
Psalm 114 op. 51

"The Song of the Earth"

Orchestra and Choir of the Tiroler Festspiele Erl

Conductor: Antonello Manacorda

Mezzosoprano: Paula Murrihy

Tenor: AJ Glueckert

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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