Letters to Ruth

Musical by Aksel-Otto Bull and Gisele Kverndokk

Associated Project

World premiere at Musical Frühling Gmunden 2023. Since 2015, theater makers Elisabeth Sikora and Markus Olzinger have been establishing Gmunden as a venue for Austrian and German-language premiere performances in what is probably the most modern genre in theater history, the musical.

(Original title: Briefe an Ruth)

Subject to change

Musical Frühling Gmunden (Project Leader)


About the project

Since 2015, the theater makers Elisabeth Sikora and Markus Olzinger have established Gmunden as a location for the Austrian and German-language premieres of the most modern genre in the history of theater, the musical. Their programming has also attracted attention internationally. As a result, the New York Opera Society located in Washington learned of Gmunden and entrusted the world premiere of BRIEFE VON RUTH (LETTERS FROM RUTH) to the hands of Musical Frühling. The plot is based on letters and journal entries by the Viennese Jew Ruth Maier during the period of National Socialism.

Elisabeth Schweeger: “Amongst other notions, the title capital of culture was also chosen in order to maintain a culture of memory, to give it its say and to empower voices that can clearly portray these stories of the past. The idea is not to accuse, but instead to remember how people had to live under certain power structures and what happened to them. Perhaps we will recognize what we have done to ourselves when we concern ourselves with biographies such as that of Ruth Maier. The fact that these intelligent, clever and artistically talented people were persecuted, repressed or murdered. In doing so, we Europeans also inflicted a loss upon ourselves. This is why I find it absolutely fantastic that the attempt is being made here using the medium of the musical to tell the story of Ruth Maier with a certain lightness. After all, the form of musical stands for lightness, but it also has a special tradition, that is, it comes from the culture of the operetta. The operetta was an important art form in the Salzkammergut region which was thoroughly modern in the 19th century and, most of all, attempted to achieve one thing: the combination of entertainment with critical societal positions. If we only tell her story in this one way, it sounds bitter. We should be able to go beyond this bitterness. This is why I would like to quote Ernst Bloch here: “Without dreams, we cannot look into the future.” The generation affected by this could barely manage to dream, but, as it is represented in the writings of the artist Ruth Maier, it had a great deal of imagination and many desires for the future. Those were their dreams. They show that art is stronger than any attempt to destroy it! This is why she continues to love through her writings and, thanks to Musical Frühling Gmunden, she will also reach a large audience – I am very much looking forward to it!”