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"Before Your Very Eyes" at the Berliner Festspiele Theatertreffen 2012
"Before Your Very Eyes" at the Berliner Festspiele Theatertreffen 2012Image: Phile Deprez

Culture calendar

April 27, 2012

From music and theater to art and film, the month of May has many exciting cultural events in store in Germany. Get your calendars out - DW has compiled some of this month's highlights.


An extraordinary theater festival

Corks are popping in German-language theaters. Last year's 10 most remarkable German theater productions have been rewarded with a special invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen, Berlin's annual theater festival. A special jury of critics examined over 400 plays, the best of which will be shown in the German capital from May 4-20.

This year, half of the chosen plays were produced in Berlin by renowned theater houses such as Hebbel am Ufer and Volksbühne. Other pieces come from Hamburg's Thalia Theater, Munich's Kammerspiele and the Burgtheater in Vienna. The jury has frequently been criticized over the years for favoring the larger, more renowned theater companies.

Panel discussions, premiere parties and workshops are also on the agenda during the Berliner Theatertreffen. This year, 38 actors, directors and authors from 20 different countries have been invited to gain new insight into the changing theater world, and to exchange their views.

"Before Your Very Eyes" by Gob Squad will be performed at the Berliner Festspiele Theatertreffen in MayImage: Manuel Reinartz

More than just modern operas

"The Distant Sound" is the title of this year's Munich Biennale for New Musical Theater, a forum for contemporary opera taking place from May 3-19. This outstandingly important opera forum is also well known outside of Europe. Opera projects from Japan or China, for example are performed for an international audience. For the artists, it's a prime opportunity for them to present their works in their home countries.

One of this year's highlights is an opera by female Korean composer Eunyoung Kim. "Mama Dolorosa" recounts the story of a woman living in modern day Seoul, where both Korean and Christian traditions are at home. The woman's long awaited son is first viewed as a sort of god and savior. However, the heated atmosphere within the home produces more and more violence - the son becomes a murderer and his mother breaks down as she suffers her fate. The opera is set in Korea, although no Korean instruments are used in the work. What is “Korean” about it is the way in which the characters deal with their fate, says the composer. The Munich premiere of this coproduction with the Braunschweig State Theater takes place on May 5, 2012.

A scene from the opera
A scene from the opera "Mama Dolorosa" by Korean director Eunyoung KimImage: Münchener Biennale 2012

Short films and other specialties

No doubt about it: The month of May is a particularly interesting season for movie fans. The International Short Film Festival, taking place in Hamburg from May 29 to June 4, presents film art in its most compact form. The film festival is a meeting ground for unconventional filmmakers from all over the world to discuss the latest trends in their field. German short filmmakers and students from various film academies meet in the German competition. Another special feature of Hamburg's Short Film Festival is a range of three-minute-films on a particular topic. It is an attractive stepping stone for young, yet unknown filmmakers.

Stuttgart's renowned Animated Film Festival (May 8 -13) presents around 1,000 animated films from all over the world. A focal point there is a selection of silhouette films - this year from Asia, America and Europe. Well-known French director Michel Ocelot is set to attend.

There is already much speculation as to which stars will show up at the International Film Festival in Cannes, from May 16-27 - and even more on who may take home the coveted Gold and Silver Palme d'Ors.

"El Macho" by Daniela Negrin Ochoa can be seen at the Animated Film Festival in StuttgartImage: Trickfilm-Festival Stuttgart

Dixieland in Dresden

The festival season is in full swing in Dresden. Locals and visitors from all over the world can choose between several outstanding locations in the city: the Kulturpalast, the airport or the Old Slaughterhouse. Around 40 bands from 11 countries will be providing them with a real jazz feeling. Europe's biggest old-time jazz festival, from May 13-20, offers blues, boogie, swing and Dixieland shows. More than 500,000 visitors from all over the world are expected to stream into the city, turning it into one big party.

Get Happy Brass Band from Rendsburg
The Get Happy Brass Band from Rendsburg are playing at the Dixieland Festival in DresdenImage: picture alliance/ZB

The world's most beautiful woman turns 500

Dresden also offers a lot for museum fans. Starting on May 26, the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister (Old Masters Picture Gallery) presents a selection of the most renowned works of the Italian Renaissance. Among them is Raphael's "Sistine Madonna," whom many regard as the world's most beautiful woman.

You could say she is celebrating a very special anniversary herself this year - her 500th birthday. The painting was completed 500 years ago. The famous "Sistine Madonna," which attracts 2.5 million visitors each year, was painted on a three-meter-high altar panel. It was originally produced for a small church in Italy where it remained forgotten over several centuries. That changed significantly when the "Sistine Madonna" was brought to Dresden by August III, elector of Saxony. It was then moved into a side wing of the Zwinger Palace.

Nowadays, this work of art enjoys cult status. This year, the rock band Electra will perform their 1980 hit "Die sixtinische Madonna" as a special birthday song to the Sistine Madonna on August 26, which also marks the end of the anniversary exhibition.

Raphael's "Sistine Madonna" has been fascinating audiences for 500 yearsImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Rock music and a violin

Is he a pop idol or a classical music star? He enters the stage in his rocker outfit, wears a blonde pony tail and is said to be a womanizer. His presence certainly fills up the concert halls: German-American star violinist David Garrett has created a unique mixture of classical and modern music. "What counts most of all is just to be good," he's said. On his recital tour through eight German cities from May 1-15, he will present a purely classical program. Tickets are already sold out.

German-American violinist David Garrett
The German-American violinist David Garrett will be touring eight German cities in MayImage: dapd

Author: Gudrun Stegen / ad
Editor: Kate Bowen

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