Zermatt's first open-air theatre

Zermatt, 13th July 1865: At the crack of dawn, a seven-man rope team makes its way along the Hörnligrat towards the Matterhorn. Their goal: the summit of the only 4,000-metre mountain in the Swiss Alps that had not yet been climbed. The day, and with it Edward Whymper, would go down in history. For the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, "The Matterhorn Story" will be premièred on the Gornergrat before the unique backdrop of the Matterhorn in the summer of 2015.

150 years ago, wealthy foreigners flocked to Zermatt, and they all wanted to climb the surrounding 4,000-metre mountains. Up to then, only the Matterhorn was thought to be unconquerable. A mystical aura surrounded the mountain, and stirred up superstition among the villagers. 

"The Matterhorn Story": A unique theatre experience

To celebrate the 150-year anniversary of the first ascent of the Matterhorn, a grandstand for 700 spectators will be built on the Gornergrat above Zermatt in the summer of 2015. "I dedicate my play to the mountain guides of Zermatt. They helped wealthy tourists achieve first ascents and, in the case of Edward Whymper, to international fame, while they themselves have been forgotten", says Livia Anne Richard, director and author of "The Matterhorn Story". The première of the very first performance of "The Matterhorn Story" is on Thursday, 9th July 2015. From this date, and up to Sunday, 30st August, the open-air theatre will be performed at 7.30 p.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, and at 2.00 p.m. on Sunday afternoons. Advance ticket sales will start in March 2015.

A race against time, or: The secret of the first ascent of the Matterhorn

The Englishman Edward Whymper comes to Zermatt on 12th July 1865, and joins a rope team. The only local mountain guides that Whymper could engage were Father and Son Taugwalder. The first ascent actually succeeds - but only three of the seven men return the next morning: Edward Whymper, the seriously injured Peter Taugwalder and his son. Defamation, speculation and accusations follow, and there is even a rumour that Father Taugwalder cut the rope. Whymper, on the other hand, maintains his good name, while Taugwalder's version is lost in the turmoil: he claimed that Whymper had cut the rope 200 metres before the summit, and ran ahead in order to be the first at the top. This was why they only had a reserve rope for the descent, which then broke. Nobody was convicted, and the file was closed and kept under lock and key for 55 years.

Author and director Livia Anne Richard

Livia Anne Richard ("Dällebach Kari", "Einstein", "Paradies") is staging her play herself. "The international language of music will, of course, also play an important role", says Richard. The music comes from Bruno Bieri, who will accompany the piece himself live with the "HANG" natural tone instrument.


Performances 9 July to 30 August 2015
Number of seats around 700
Actors over 40
Schedule Wednesday to Saturday,
7:30 pm, Sunday, 2 pm




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