News from Austria (Austrian Federal Chancellery)
In spring 1945 about 100,000 Hungarian Jews were driven to Mauthausen concentration camp. Only 20,000 survived. Silke Hassler and Peter Turrini describe the fate of 20 of them waiting in a barn to continue their march in “Jedem das Seine“ (“To Each His Own”). Roland Neuwirth, the founder of the music group “Extremschrammeln“ (blending traditional Viennese “Schrammel” music with contemporary elements), wrote the music for this “popular operetta,“ as the subtitle of the work implies.
The artist describes his music as the “tonality of the people.” They are disfigured sounds echoing the waltzes of Johann Strauß from a distance, sweet and light, harsh and bitter. “Vienna Blood” is performed as a Klezmer version on the violin by Aliosha Biz. When WWII was drawing to a close in late April 1945, the half-starved people were provided with food by the peasant woman Traudl Fasching in her barn. To thank her, opera singer Lou Gandolf – brilliantly enacted by Alexander Kaimbacher – wants to perform an operetta for the music-loving farmer.
The project becomes increasingly fascinating, even to Traudl’s alcoholic husband and the Nazi, Stefan Fasching. At the end the war is over, Hitler is dead and the prisoners believe that the horror has finally come to an end. But the barn is boarded up and set on fire. After it burned down, the entire ensemble stands for several minutes in the dark at the edge of the stage – probably the most touching moment of Michael Sturminger’s production at the City Theater of Klagenfurt (Stadttheater Klagenfurt). Then the actors collapse and the orchestra led by Guido Mancusi performs once more this strange waltz-like music.
The play has been conceived as a present to the outgoing theatre manager of City Theater of Klagenfurt, Dietmar Pflegerl. The actors, authors and the composer were given standing ovations on the first night of March 8, 2007, e.g. by Minister for Culture Claudia Schmied and the Director General of the Austrian National Library, Johanna Rachinger.