Sebastian Reinthaller, artistic director of the Baden stage, is both director of the city theater and the summer arena in the Kurpark, which is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. He also sings a tenor role in Franz Lehár’s “Frasquita”, enjoying nature and above all the fresh air, as he emphasizes in the interview (source: wienerzeitung).
Sebastian Reinthaller and the orchestra of the Baden stage
What is the difference between summer and the rest of the season for you as the director?
I have been a regular guest on the Baden stage since 1992 and artistic director since 2014, and every time I have to do outside in the summer, I enjoy this natural experience. The Wienerwald is right behind, the summer arena is enthroned at the top. I say: nature is already art. And if we have the opportunity to present art in nature, it is a wonderful increase and even doubling. Therefore it is a huge difference to the fixed theater building. It has its charm, but the summer season is incomparable. And the summer arena here is something very special, especially when the glass roof is open. You can hear the birds chirping, you can hear the guests from the spa gardens talking, you may also hear other music from a distance, but the concentration takes place in the auditorium. I’m a fresh air fanatic, that’s great for me as a singer.
To what extent are pollen, gels, rain or cool evenings a problem?
There are, of course, colleagues who do not like it because they fear for their voice when it gets a little cooler. I’m a bit more robust there and enjoy every second in the spa park and in the summer arena. It used to be a pawlat until the glass roof was erected in record time 110 years ago. Since then you can play there in any weather, so we have a huge advantage over other stages in competition. When the weather is bad, we just close the glass roof, then you can hear the raindrops, that also has something. With the pollen it is not that bad in summer itself. And I used to be an asthma child and almost choked. The Gelsen are not as bad in Baden as in other outdoor play cities. It only happens sometimes that insects or birds are locked in under the glass roof, but they are not really bothersome. What is special in the summer arena is the direct contact with the audience: it is a house with 660 seats, the stage is not particularly large, and the orchestra pit is manageable – and you still come up on the stage in the evening in daylight and see every single face , This is frightening for some colleagues. I love it because I already know a lot of faces. You can also play wonderfully in Nestroy style. And in the course of the evening, the faces brighten or darken.
Does the summer audience in Baden differ from that of the rest of the season?
We have a regular audience, of course, and there is overlap between summer and winter guests. I have the impression that people go to shows more often in summer than in winter. This may also be due to the fact that we only have three productions in summer and five in the rest of the season. In any case, in summer I see many faces, double, triple or even more. As far as visitors from Vienna are concerned, there are more in winter than in summer, when there is more open air.
What is the choice of pieces based on? Baden only has operettas. Why no spoken theater?
Right from the start, the operetta was part of the concept of the location to offer the light muse. And this genre of music theater has established itself so much that the loyalty of the audience speaks for not neglecting it, but for putting the focus on it. There are so few theaters that offer this in this form – the Volksoper is now moving more towards musicals – that this is our specialty. This has happened over the past 100 years. It is an entertainment theater in the best sense of the word at a very high level.
How tough is the competition between the summer stages? Baden is by no means the only venue near Vienna.
In summer, we don’t feel the competition in this sense at all. The range of operettas in Lower Austria is quite manageable. We have a constant workload and in any case no departures. In winter, when certain premieres overlap with other theaters, it may be that the regular audience attends one of the follow-up performances instead of the premiere.
How do you choose your actors? Are they the same in the city theater and in the summer arena?
I usually ask soloists that I think are good for both houses. Especially for this summer, I was also able to hire the darling Merius-MacLeod, the darling of the musical, as a guest star. It is a driving force in summer. He gets a microphone gain, and it works wonderfully. But the operetta and opera actors could easily be exchanged – if I can put it in a nutshell – because the acoustics in both houses are very good. The orchestra pit is very different, but they are voices that can be used equally in both seasons.
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