Zermatt's first open-air theatre

Already in planning: A theatrical performance with a high musical content about the first ascent of the Matterhorn.


Performances will be staged in the open-air theatre for the first time, on the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn. Spectators will experience what happened during the first ascent. A story of triumph, betrayal and death. The theatrical piece, which has a high level of musical content, will be performed in English and German on the Riffelberg in Zermatt for four to six weeks in July and August 2015. 

"The Matterhorn Story"

We have not decided on a title yet, but in the mean time we have been calling it the “Zermatter Freilichtspiele” (Zermatt open-air theatre), after the “Tell open-air theatre” in Interlaken. Thomas Sterchi’s Tom Talent enterprise will be organising and carrying out the project. This is the same Thomas Sterchi who organised the Zermatt Unplugged music festival. “Our desire for this 90-minute 'theater with a high proportion of music' would be to set up a stage and grandstand for an audience of around 700-800 people”, explained Thomas Sterchi. The writer and director of the play is Livia Anne Richard from Bern. She has directed such open-air plays as “Dällenbach Kari” (2006/2007) and “Einstein” (2010). 

Performers from the village population

The Zermatter Freilichtspiele will focus on the first ascent of the mountain and is a theatrical performance with a high musical content that touches on the themes of success, “do or die”, intrigue and love. Professional actors and singers will perform alongside amateur actors and possibly also village clubs and local extras. Thomas Sterchi said that they “would like to have as many Zermatters involved on and off the stage as possible”. In total there will be some 30-40 people on stage. During July and August of 2015 there will also be a need for helpers to work backstage and to help with the organising. The performances should attract some 50% of the visitors who are in Zermatt at that time. In addition, it is hoped that those who will come specifically for the festival will increase visitor numbers by a further 50%. To this end, there are packages linked to arrivals, theatre visits, dinner and accommodation. If the performances really do draw in the crowds, there could be some 15,000 additional overnight stays generating sums in the double-digit million range. As for the long-term future of the Zermatter Freilichtspiele, Thomas Sterchi believes that “if the Freilichtspiele is successful, it could also be performed in summer each year just like the William Tell open-air theatre in Interlaken”.

Date: 09 july (premiere) to 29 august 2015

freilichtspiele-zermatt.ch