A misunderstanding, of course! We do not want to assume that the Swiss director Jossi Wieler, who was recently congratulated on his birthday (see FAZ of August 6), has an ironic relationship with the Salzburg Festival or with Hugo von Hofmannsthal's theatrical works. In fact, in the program booklet for Wieler's staging of “Das Bergwerk zu Falun” - in addition to an essay by Elfriede Jelinek (“Hinsterben”) - there is a quote from Hofmannsthal from November 1899: “I had to turn to the III, IV and Vth act to completely rework, and so I'm back on unsafe scaffolding between rubble, beams and unfinished brick walls. ”So a construction site. And we also see one when the curtain has slowly opened on the stage of the Salzburg State Theater.

During his lifetime Hofmannsthal did not fully publish this drama in five acts, which he wrote down in the first version with 25 Lenzen, in 1899. Rather, tinkered with it for a long time and, but that may only be a myth, similar to how Franz Kafka asked not to reissue the “mine” even after his death (any more). He probably already knew why. It turned out differently. A first copy in a work was published in 1946, a world premiere in Konstanz in 1949. But then, in contrast to “Jedermann”, it became quite quiet around this fairy-tale-like spectacle, which was difficult to classify. Even the content can hardly be put into a few words, as it is about Elis Förbom, who has turned from a young seafarer through tragic circumstances to a melancholy miner, who is torn between the love of life,embodied by the mine owner's daughter Anna, and the longing for death, embodied by the ghostly undead old miner Torbern and the elf-like, nameless mountain queen who somehow loses his life, even breathed it out in a mine collapse. Hofmannsthal used ETA Hoffmann's fairy tale version freehand (“Die Bergwerke zu Falun”), but one or the other may also recognize motifs from Ibsen's “Peer Gynt”.but one or the other may also recognize motifs from Ibsen's “Peer Gynt”.but one or the other may also recognize motifs from Ibsen's “Peer Gynt”.

All of this, in turn, seemed to Jossi Wieler and the dramaturge Marion Tiedtke to get out of hand, it was shortened and cut to just over an hour and a half (without a break, also because of the pandemic regulations that were still in force) and ended up on that construction site in the State Theater (set design: Muriel Gerstner). They create a cycle of life there, only from concrete bricks, more precisely: hollow blocks, the acting ensemble builds a circle of walls on the revolving stage, tears it down again, and again piles up the piles of hollow block bricks that existed at the beginning. And speaks the abbreviated, partially slightly changed, modernized text by Hofmannsthal. Incidentally, one looks in vain for the scaffolding or beams he mentioned - also painted!

Of course, one should not underestimate the performance of the actors. The gigantic Marcel Kohler, somehow made up in Goth-Punk with long hair, manages, as Elis, to play around even the most heartbreaking goodbyes to the mountain queen and Anna with bitter, happy irony. Sylvana Krappatsch as that very mountain queen in a white suit (with black patent leather shoes; costumes: Anja Rabes) appears at the same time arrogant and humble when she rejects the old Torbern and gives the young Elis hopes to live an eternal existence by her side. This Torbern, in turn, to whom André Jung lends his tired-looking body, is flooded with melancholy and does not seem threatening for a second. Hildegard Schmahl succeeds in this threat, sometimes as Ilsebill (a role,which, however, never really emerges), but even more than Anna's grandmother to feel credible at least for herself. She likes to throw concrete blocks at Torbern.

Edmund Telgenkämper is less fortunate. As Anna's father Pehrson Dahlsjö, you can at least see the sadness of the wedding that did not take place in his face. Lea Ruckpaul is challenged the most, because if Anna almost always speaks the opposite of what she is doing or feeling, she doesn't even seem to trust her own words, which brings us back to the ironic interpretation of the piece through this staging. A circle closes here as well. What is all of this supposed to bring? After these seemingly long hundred minutes, you don't know either. In any case, no rediscovery of the Falun mountain epic is guaranteed. Hofmannsthal was evidently right with his skepticism about his own piece.