Contact us

Press Photos
   Location - Panorama
   Historical Picts

Press Releases
   General Information
   The Polydrama
   10 commandments
The Play
Excerpts from the show
   Paulus Manker (director)
   Joshua Sobol (author)
Interview with Joshua Sobol
Alma – the film
International Press Reviews

   Venice 2002
   Lisbon 2003
   Los Angeles 2004
   Petronell 2005
   Berlin 2006
   Semmering 2007
   Vienna 2008
   Jerusalem 2009
   Vienna 2010
   Prague 2011
   Vienna 2012
   Vienna 2013
   Wiener Neustadt 2014
   Wiener Neustadt 2015


20 Years of Success:
Vienna, Venice, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Berlin, Jerusalem, Prague

Alma in Vienna

The play, first performed in 1996 at the Vienna Festival Week and made into a film in 1999, has long since been a cult among connoisseurs. There are fans who have seen the performance a dozen times; indeed the biggest "Almaniac" boasts a total of 73 performances. Six summers long, the famous Sanatorium Purkersdorf outside Vienna served as a venue for the show, an empty Jugendstil building whose rooms had been fitted out in turn-of-the-century style. One hundred and forty performances took place there, all of them sell-outs, and in the process 23,044 candles and 2,736 torches were burnt, and at the funeral banquet in honour of Gustav Mahler the audience was treated to a vast quantity of baked chicken wings, boiled fillet of beef and Viennese apple cake, as well as 3,762 bottles of wine.

Sanatorium Purkersdorf, Vienna
The famous dining room


Alma a Venezia

In its seventh year, the production found itself looking for a new venue, and set off on tour. The first stop was Venice, the city in which the young Alma once received her first kiss from Gustav Klimt, and the place where she later travelled with Oskar Kokoschka. In 1922, she bought a house there with Franz Werfel, which she named Casa Alma. It was also in Venice that, in 1934, her daughter Manon, born of her marriage with Walter Gropius, fell ill. The girl, who was considered a stunning beauty, died of polio just one year later, at the age of thirteen. Alban Berg composed his Violin Concerto in her honour, dedicating it to "the memory of an angel"; and naturally, besides Mahler's symphonies, the audience hears this work too as they trace the path of Alma's life.

Palazzo Zenobio Abstandhalter Palazzo Zenobio
Abstandhalter   Abstandhalter
The room of mirrors
Palazzo Zenobio, Venice

On the Italian tour, English was the main language spoken, though the scenes with Werfel were in Italian, some others also in German. The beautiful Palazzo Zenobio on the Fondamenta del Soccorso was rented for the show, a building dating from the late 17th century. As in Vienna, here too, all interior and exterior spaces were used for the performance, from a splendid hall of mirrors on the first floor to the rooms leading into the courtyard and the neighbouring garden. The rooms were decorated in the style of the period, faithful down to the smallest detail, and using exquisite furniture, old carpets and paintings, music manuscripts, documents and letters. There was a luxurious bathing hall and a steaming kitchen, an Alma memorial and an Italian cafe. Everywhere were chandeliers, burning candles, and all the props had been brought over from Vienna - a process of "Almafication".

The atmosphere along the narrow canals of the Dorsoduro district were ghostly, and the flames of torches burnt in the streets around the magnificent Palazzo Zenobio. Through the arched windows of the Palace shined, sumptuously decorated, shimmering gold stuccoed ceilings. A funeral march by Gustav Mahler resounded through the night. Death in Venice: in a gondola Mahler's corpse was taken away for burial ...

To the archive: Venice 2002

Alma in Lisbon

In the summer of 2003, the production went to Lisbon, where Alma spent challenging and decisive months of her life. The Werfels flew Vienna in 1938 for France when Austria fell to the German army. In 1940, the Werfels along with Heinrich Mann and his nephew Golo Mann flew by foot over the rugged Pyrenees to Spain, ultimately leaving Europe for the United States on board the Nea Hellas, the last regular ship from Lisbon. Lisbon meant rescue for them. "There's no country which helped as many refugees as Portugal in those days." The small country became a transition for many well-known refugees such as Heinrich Mann, Lion Feuchtwanger and Franz Werfel.

Convento dos inglesinhos Abstandhalter Convento dos inglesinhos
Abstandhalter   Abstandhalter
Convento dos Inglesinhos, Lisbon
The church with the Alma-altar

An important part in the Portuguese version was given to Consul-General Aristides de Sousa Mendes who was in charge of the Portuguese Consulate in Bordeaux, in 1940. When history catapulted him overnight to the position of custodian of human lives hanging in the balance, he proved that he was far more. He issued transit visas for entry into Portugal to an astounding 30.000 refugees, and opened up a refugee escape route where none had existed. He rebelled against service orders and used his office to overturn them, on behalf of humanity.

In her autobiography, Alma wrote: "I can never forget those days of paradisiacal peace in a paradisiacal country, after the torment of the previous months!" She is said to have held court there like a fallen queen. And indeed this is what she was: the queen among artists' muses. Lisbon was a stage as if designed to tell of love and death and the depths of desire, to tell the story of the last femme fatale to whom this evening of theatre is dedicated: Alma Mahler-Werfel.

To the archive: Lisbon 2003

Alma in Hollwood

in 2004 Alma was performed in Hollywood, Los Angeles, where Alma lived for 12 years im emigration. Movies based on Werfel's books where produced here and Alma was the center of the emigration-community. The location found in Los Angeles is the unique and glamorous Los Angeles Theatre direct on Broadway. It is one of the big old Movie-palaces which was built from Charlie Chaplin in 1931.

To the archive: Los Angeles 2004


LA Theatre
Los Angeles Theatre


Alma in Petronell

In 2005, after 10 years, this theatrical journey retourned to austria. In August 2005 Alma celebrated its 250th performance in Schloss Petronell near Vienna!

To the archive: Petronell 2005


Schloss Petronell
Schloss Petronell
The ball room


Alma in Berlin

In 2006 Alma went to Berlin, another important capital city in her eventful life. Berlin is also the place where she lived with Walter Gropius, where she enjoyed the golden 20s and where Franz Werfels dramas had their debut performances by Max Reinhardt on the German Theatre.

The Kronprinzenpalais on the boulevard Unter den Linden is the ideal place for „Alma“. Between World War I and World War II the Kronprinzenpalais was the first museum for contemporary art and even influenced the foundation of the famous MoMA in New York. All the painters from the expressionism era had their work exhibited there. Amongst them also Oskar Kokoschkas, who was Alma's lover at this time.

In the nearby State Opera House Alban Bergs „Wozzeck" (who is dedicated to Alma) had its debut performance in 1925 and at the Opernplatz Werfel's books where thrown into the flames from the Nazis in 1933.

To the archive: Berlin 2006


Kronprinzen-Palais Kronprinzen-Palais
A place full of history


Alma at Austria’s Magic Mountain

In 2007 “Alma” returned to Austria, to the Kurhaus sanatorium on the mountain of Semmering, a few minutes away from Alma’s notorious summer residence in Breitenstein. The Kurhaus was a sanatorium which was known as a high-class hotel offering particular tranquillity and discretion. Director Max Reinhardt stayed here, as did author Arthur Schnitzler, and other eminent guests included Anton Wildgans, Raoul Auernheimer, Jakob Wassermann, Otto Brahm, Gerhard Hauptmann, Ernst Lothar and Alma Mahler's third husband, the writer Franz Werfel. Josef Kainz, the most famous actor in German speaking culture, spent the final weeks of his life here in the summer of 1910, before returning to Vienna in August, where he died on September 20th in the Sanatorium Löw. (This was where, six months later, Gustav Mahler, was also to die)
Alma Mahler-Werfel also regularly visited the Kurhaus, and sent her daughter Anna there in 1929 when she was suffering from jaundice. This led to Anna's marriage to publisher Paul von Zsolnay, who had caused a sensation with Franz Werfel's novel "Verdi" and spent several weeks on holiday at the Kurhaus.
Besides an elegant reading room with a stunning view across to the Sonnwendstein, Kurhaus guests had at their disposal a music room and a billiard and games room. The Kurhaus was designed as a reinforced concrete construction and marked the transition from historicism to modernity. The combination of Heimatstil (regional style) elements, palace architecture, decorative Jugendstil and functionalistic architecture brought about a fundamental change of style in the hotel architecture of the Semmering and had exemplary status also beyond the borders of Austria. The very decorative artistic interior ornamentation is related to Josef Hoffmann's geometric Jugendstil and uses elements which allude to the work of Otto Wagner, such as the balustrade and the flower baskets on the staircase. The parts of the building still preserved in their original style include the luxurious dining room with original lighting, mosaics, wall panels, dressers, and Thonet chairs made of stained natural wood.

To the archive: Semmering 2007

Kurhaus Semmering Kurhaus Semmering
Kurhaus Semmering
The dining-hall

Alma in Vienna

Alma played in the city of Vienna for the first time in the summer of 2008, indeed directly in the city centre, amid the enchanted pillars and courtyards of the former Post- und Telegrafenamt on Börseplatz. The performance even extended to the surrounding streets; for Gustav Mahler's funeral service, the streets were stylishly transformed back to the period. Scarcely anyone in Vienna knew of this vast old building which had been neglected for many years. The entrances had been sealed up as if for ever, the high windows were coated in dust, and nothing was revealed of the building's interior; the only access was to a small post office on the ground floor. Yet in this haunted house slumbered immense ceremonial rooms commissioned in 1905 by Emperor Franz Joseph in honour of the new technology of telegraphy. No-one had any notion of the splendour which gave Alma's first venue in Vienna a truly imperial backdrop.This massive success was also repeated in 2009 and 2010, and included, on 7 July 2010, in a dazzling celebration of the 150th anniversary of Mahler's birth, a gala performance accompanied by a massive firework display to the music of Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony.

To the archive: Vienna 2008
To the archive: Vienna 2009
To the archive: Vienna 2010
To the archive: Vienna 2012
To the archive: Vienna 2013

k.k. Post und Telegrafenamt Abstandhalter k.k. Post und Telegrafenamt
Abstandhalter   Abstandhalter
The big hall during the gala dinner
Post and Telegram Office

Alma in Jerusalem
In 2009, the production toured to Jerusalem, where it was premiered in October at the Museum for Underground Prisoners, the former central prison of the British administration, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the state of Israel, with Israeli and European actors performing in both Hebrew and English. The production generated considerable controversy, since the Israeli Defence Ministry, operator of the Museum, censored Sobol's play and even prohibited illustrations showing paintings of Oskar Kokoschka and his life-size Alma doll on the grounds they were "obscene". An explosive new scene was also added by Sobol specially for the Israeli production; a fictitious meeting in Jerusalem's prison, i.e. at the performance venue itself, between the founder of the Jewish-Arab Workers' Fraternity, Aron Cohen, and Alma Mahler-Werfel, relating to the peaceful co-existence of Jews and Arabs, formed a new station in the play.

To the archive: Jerusalem 2009

Jerusalem Abstandhalter Jerusalem
Abstandhalter   Abstandhalter
Museum for Underground Prisoners
Prison cell

Alma in Prague
In June 2011, Alma was performed in Prague for the first time, in the homeland of Franz Werfel, Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Mahler, the 100th anniversary of whose death was celebrated on May 18th. The performance was staged in the splendid Martinicky Palace beside Prague Castle, one of Prague's top locations. The production was only possible at all due to sponsorship from gaming corporation Novomatic, since both the City of Vienna and the Austrian Ministry of Culture failed to provide any subsidies and, after 15 years, the production was about to face its end. This fact was described in the press as a "cultural disgrace" and discussed at great length. However, the Viennese audience stood by their cult production and Alma fans pilgrimaged in their hundreds to Prague where, in Alma's 16th year, they bestowed yet another triumphal success on the show.

To the archive: Prague 2011

Martinicky Palais Abstandhalter Martinicky Palais
Abstandhalter   Abstandhalter
Martinicky Palace