From Cologne to Vienna: Stefan Bachmann becomes director of the Burgtheater

From Cologne to Vienna: Stefan Bachmann becomes director of the Burgtheater

From Cologne to Vienna
Stefan Bachmann becomes director of the Burgtheater

From 2024, Stefan Bachmann will take over the management of the Burgtheater in Vienna.  Photo: Eva Manhart/APA/dpa

From 2024, Stefan Bachmann will take over the management of the Burgtheater in Vienna. photo

© Eva Manhart/APA/dpa

Martin Kušej has to give up the management of the traditional stage after one term. His successor Bachmann should improve the atmosphere in the audience and the ensemble. Bachmann wants to bring ideas from Cologne with him for this.

The theater director Cologne, Stefan Bachmann, will move to the head of the Burgtheater in Vienna in 2024. This was announced by Austria’s Secretary of State for Culture, Andrea Mayer, on Wednesday. The 56-year-old Swiss director and theater manager replaces the Austrian Martin Kušej (61) in Vienna.

Mayer paid tribute to Kušej for leading the traditional stage through the difficult Corona phase in his first and last term. But in the end, Bachmann was more convincing: “Artistically, as a leader, and because he approaches things with innovation and joy,” she said.

He appeals to a younger audience in Cologne

Bachmann told on Wednesday in Viennathat his classical view of the theater in Cologne has opened up. The conversion of the Cologne theater forced him to set up an alternative venue in the industrial district of Mülheim, where he found a younger and more colorful audience. What Bachmann created with the interim venue is “unique and earns me the greatest respect,” said Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker (independent). Cologne’s head of culture, Stefan Charles, said the call to Vienna was “an incredibly great honor” for both Bachmann and Cologne.

“I am now coming to a house that is venerable, that is full of history, that makes a sublime and sometimes even a bit frightening impression,” Bachmann said of the former Imperial Court Theater in Vienna. Here, too, he wants to break down thresholds and make offers to a changing society, he said.

Kušej had moved to Vienna from the head of the Bavarian State Theater in Munich with similar plans in 2019. However, due to the pandemic, he was only able to partially implement his idea of ​​an open, more international theater and had to struggle with a drop in visitors. Critics accused him of having hardly developed any online offers during the closures. Media also reported that his management style contributed to a bad mood in the house.

Martin Kušej rejects the allegations

“None of this is true. It was partly lied that the beams were bending,” Kušej told ORF on Wednesday about this allegation. “Actually, everything is pretty good Burgtheaterand I don’t quite understand why that happened,” he said when asked why Mayer finally turned down his application for a second term.

The State Secretary emphasized that Bachmann was also convincing because he was self-critical about himself and the theater in times of great uncertainty. Bachmann spoke on Wednesday about the criticism of the management culture at Schauspiel Köln, which appeared in 2018. He worked up the allegations through mediation and then took advantage of coaching and further training, he said.

Bachmann is already familiar with the Burgtheater. He has presented award-winning productions there in the past, including Elfriede Jelinek’s “Winterreise” (2012). He did not want to reveal his Vienna plans from 2024 onwards. “If you peddle ideas, they can get moldy,” he said.


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