Spectacle Under the Stars – Staging Steel and Rock. A show in the Roman quarry doubtless is a unique experience for every visitor, whether it is the classical-music lover enjoying a performance of the opera festival or a local watching the annual passion play with his friends as amateur actors.
The playing and singing under the open sky on a gentle summer night, far away from the noise of the street is an experience that even the average visitor who is not too much into opera and passion plays will find overwhelming.
Until now, though, it has only been the stage itself that has benefited from the ambience of the location, unique in Austria, whereas the path used by visitors to get from the parking lot to their seats in the auditorium and back always was an unatmospheric, merely functional accessway.
The basic idea of the design is to extend the ambience of the magnificent rock-face scenery to all parts of the theatrical arena so as to make it a more palpable and visual enveloping experience.
The quarry of St. Margarethen in the Austrian province of Burgenland—one of the oldest in Europe and in the possession of the Esterházy family since the first half of the 17th century—has been part of a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 2001. The sandstone quarried here was used for the building of St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna as well as for a number of landmark buildings of the Ringstrasse period.
Until 1977, the “European Sculptors Symposium”, initiated 1959 by Karl Prantl, was the site and source of inspiration for international artists to create works in stone. Still today, numerous sculptures give the area around the quarry its unique character. And this place is not least characterized by an unequalled panorama in which the view unfolds far into the Pannonian Plain of Hungary.
Today, the quarry of St. Margarethen is one of the most beautiful and impressive open air arenas in Europe and has undergone—under the ownership of the Esterházy Family Private Foundation, one of the largest cultural entrepreneurs in Austria—extensive development of this highly sensitive natural space. The spectacular architecture makes the impressive natural setting of the venue a palpable experience for about 220,000 annual festival visitors.