Author: Dirk Krampitz
They know the little quirks of big stars. “Classic singers are usually a little more nervous as they usually sing without a microphone and are often not used to being outside,” says festival director Gerhard Kampf (72). At Classic Open Air, he always goes for a few rounds backstage with them to calm them down.
On the other hand, managing director Mario Hempel (62) does not take manager orders so seriously anymore since American jazz-pop star Al Jarreau (82) ordered almost nothing but “freshly picked” organic vegetables. “. Because the first thing the artist himself asked was: “Where’s the ‘pork leg’?” “Of course he has a knuckle,” says Mario Hempel, and laughs.
Classic Open Air has been present at Gendarmenmarkt for 30 years. For the first time, the stage was in front of a French cathedral. “I was afraid of Schiller,” says Kampf. He means the statue standing in the square. In the meantime, they just lined up the rows of chairs to the left and right of the Schiller. But the chairs have been in storage for two years now. Because of Corona.
“We know the catastrophes. Something often happens at the last minute and it will eventually work out, ”says Hempel. Entrepreneur who runs, among others catering company, for the two missing years he paid 150 thousand. euro. “A lot of money was wasted.” Gerdschlacht comments with a quote from the “Resurrection”: “Happy is he who forgets what cannot be changed.”
But Thursday kicks off with classics, pop and evergreens starring Max Mutzke, Katharine Mehrling and Joja Wendt on “First Night”.
The program is largely the same as planned for 2020. Only Monday completely changed. The “Russian Night” was actually planned. Now there is “Let it Swing” with Tom Gaebel, Big Band Deutsche Oper and Andrej Hermlin and the orchestra. It has always been about building musical bridges between the classics and other music genres.
“70 percent of the people who visit our square rarely or never go to the opera,” says Kampf. “Young people also come here and notice that the classical orchestra does not hurt at all.” And while they naturally rely on a rather catchy repertoire, they have the courage to experiment from time to time: they have their honesty with Belgian pop singer Helmut Lotti-Zappa, the evening subsidized its last unpublished work.
And all this in front of the moody illuminated concert hall, between the cathedrals. “The square is an event, the location is extremely important,” says Hempel. Residents are watching from their windows, countertenor Jochen Kowalkski once received lightning-fast applause from construction workers on nearby cranes.
But it has to end at 10.30pm. Failure to do so may result in a fine of 50,000 euros. “You can imagine my nerves looking at my watch backstage,” admits Kampf. “Earth, wind and fire” were just too exemplary. They brought the countdown clock and finished their third encore to the second.
Professionals know that the organizer is not left out in the rain, Petrus is not. Every guest thinks he survived the concert in the rain. According to Gerhard Kampf’s personal statistics, only 12 of the 167 concerts were scored. for example, in the companion volume of Diana Ross The Supremes. Apparently the trio’s green pumps weren’t made to last. After the concert, they came to Gerhard Kampf laughing and pointed to their green feet: “You turned us into frogs.”
There will be no classical music at the Gendarmenmarkt for the next two years. The place is under renovation. But negotiations for alternative accommodation are well advanced: it looks like festival director Gerhard Kampf would have had calming rounds with classical music stars before the concerts in Lustgarten.