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JUMUM – Youth, Musical Theatre and Museum

Submitted by on 12 Jul 2012 – 11:30

Hannes HeideBy Hannes Heide, Mayor, City of Bad Ischl

Operetta is an essential cultural heritage of Europe, but what is its future potential for cultural and social life? The European project “JUMUM – Youth, Musical Theatre and Museum” dealt with that topic. It combined a new travelling exhibition OPERETTA with the creation of a new musical entertainment theatre by young composers and many additional activities in three European towns. JUMUM was a two year co-operation of partners in four countries with the support of the European Union/Programme Culture 2007-13.


It started in Bad Ischl, the Austrian operetta-town

During the 19th century Bad Ischl in Upper Austria was the summer residence of the Austrian-Hungarian emperor and a European meeting point for artists. Many composers and librettists of operettas regularly spent time there, Franz Lehár continuously lived in Bad Ischl. In memoriam to him 1962 was founded the annual operetta festival, which still is characteristic for the town’s cultural life. In July 2011 the international JUMUM exhibition OPERETTA opened, created by the Museum of Recent History in Celje/Slovenia in co-operation with their partners. The mission of the museum is the movable cultural heritage from the beginning of the 20th century onwards, with particular attention devoted to young visitors. To create an exhibition about operetta meant a challenging new task, as music does not belong to a movable heritage, but is invisible.

Fascinating musical creations from the past to the present

The exhibition leads visitors through the diversity of the operetta over its history and through the creative process of a production, from the first idea up to the premiere performance with all the different professions involved. Each JUMUM partner presented an outstanding figure, who influenced or still influences the operetta in his region: Bad Ischl choose its former citizen Franz Lehar, composer of many world successes of the operetta.

The young Mazovian Musical Theatre (Mazowiecki Teatr Muzyczny) in Warshow presented Jan Kiepura, the world-famous Polish tenor in operas and operettas. The company without a permanent residence hires venues to suit the requirements of the productions performed, which are mainly classical operettas. The German partner Eggenfelden, a town in Lower Bavaria, presented Helga Hemala-Fischer. The singer, dancer and actress brought up the “Theater an der Rott” in Eggenfelden, together with her husband. 49 years ago it started as a regional operetta theatre and now plays also dramas, comedies and operas. Helga Hemala Fischer dedicated all her life to the operetta and the education of young dancers in the town and still is fully working. The Museum in Celje introduced the Slovene composer Marjan Kozina and his operetta „Majda“.

A big variety of new “operettas”

At the same day as the vernissage in Bad Ischl, there were the remarkable premiere performances of four new “operettas”, musical entertainment theatre combining singing, dancing and speaking. The compositions had started in Bad Ischl the summer before, when young composers from the partner countries were delegated to visit a composer seminar with Kurt Schwertsik. He is one of the most renowned contemporary composers from Austria. The results were four new pieces, performed by orchestras and singers from four countries: they showed very different ways to continue the tradition of operetta, quite a convincing mix. The atonal “modern” musical theatre came from Poland. The Austrian piece followed the Viennese tradition and was a co-operation of professionals and children on the stage. The Bavarian rocky music clip was more or less in the operetta tradition – in contrast to the romantic Tango-operetta by the youngest composer, a 17 year-old very talented Slovene boy.

The growing chain of ideas

Around the exhibition and the premiere performances of new Austrian “operetta” in Bad Ischl many creative youth projects with professionals attracted new people to the topic. A graduation project of the economics school made an evaluation of many different aspects. The activities were documented by photos and film and were presented together with the exhibition to its next host, where they inspired new ideas.

In January 2012 the exhibition was opened in the newly renovated historical exhibition centre SCHLOSSÖKONOMIE GERN in Eggenfelden, together with the performance of the Slovene JUMUM operetta. Among manifold youth and school projects, there were also midday concerts in banks and restaurants which brought the topic to the general population. Morning dance performances in the exhibition centre and open rehearsals with artists from the theatre made the whole town work together around JUMUM. An international museological seminar “Music as museum object” gave rich impulses for the further development of the exhibition on its way to the Slovene public.

For the opening in Celje all the activities of the partners were presented on new panels. The film documentations of Bad Ischl and Eggenfelden, a new museum pedagogical corner for children and a station about the history of operetta in Slovenia enrich the exhibition, which now is ongoing. National further education of teachers, workshops for families, new basic programmes for primary and middle schools, regular concerts in the museum are currently taking place, and composer academies for creating new musical theatre for children will follow.

Besides that, the intercultural exchange goes on: Slovene musicians are invited to concerts in Eggenfelden and Bad Ischl, exhibitions from Celje will tour to Bad Ischl, the Polish short operetta will be continued and performed in Warshow, a Comenius-project “multicultural musical theatre” intensifies at a school level the co-operation between Bad Ischl and Celje – and a new Croatian partner. Musical theatre in the demographic change of Europe is building new bridges within local groups, as well as internationally.