The premiere of the 42nd Passion Play will be in May 2020. You can pre-register yourself now for one of our renowned land tours and stay in contact with us.
In spring 2019, the names of the actors will be announced. In addition to the major characters of Jesus, Mary, Peter, Judas, Pontius Pilate and Caiaphas, there are 120 larger and smaller speaking parts. Altogether, more than 2,400 Oberammergau villagers will participate in the 2020 Passion Play.
Rehearsals for the 42nd Passion Play will start in autumn 2019. The first performance of the 2020 Passion Play will be in May with five performances a week until October. More than half a million visitors from around the world are expected to attend. The stage was built in 1928, the auditorium in 1898. For the 2000 Passion Play, the entire Passion Play Theatre will underwent a complete restoration. The Passion Play Theatre has got about 4,500 covered seats.
A play of life and death, promised in a moment of mortal threat - so began the history of the Oberammergau Passion Play in 1633. In the middle of the Thirty Years War, after months of suffering and death from the plague, the Oberammergauers swore an oath that they would perform the "Play of the Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ" every ten years. At Pentecost 1634, they fulfilled their pledge for the first time on a stage they put up in the cemetery above the fresh graves of the plague victims. In the year 2020, the Community of Oberammergau will perform the Passion Play, they have preserved throughout the centuries with singular continuity, for the 42nd time.
Since 1634, the most famous Passion Play in the world has taken place in Oberammergau.
The tradition, maintained and experienced almost without interruption for over 380 years, of putting on the play about the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ every ten years, will be continued for the 42nd time in 2020 and is regarded as the most important passion play in the world. The village at the edge of the Bavarian Alps expects approximately 500,000 visitors for the passion play, over half of which will be international guests.
All actors of the world's largest amateur dramatic performance come from the village, since a special play law is in effect. All participants, from actors playing the big speaking parts such as Jesus, Mary or Judas, through members of the choir, orchestra members, firemen and ushers, must have been born in Oberammergau or lived there for at least 20 years.
Passion Play 2010:
Over 2000 participants brought the story of Jesus of Nazareth to the ears and eyes of the audience in a five-hour presentation on the imposing open-air stage. Almost half of the inhabitants of Oberammergau enacted with great devotion the story of Jesus whose message gives billions of people hope and strength. The play covers the period of Jesus entering Jerusalem and continues up to his death on the Cross and his resurrection. The new production, under the direction of Christian Stückl and the artistic team of the Passion Play in 2000, the stage designer Stefan Hageneier and the music directors Markus Zwink and Michael Bocklet, reflected the tremendous community achievement.
For ten months the villagers playing the roles of Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate and the apostles, of the children, soldiers and priests rehearsed the newly revised text whilst the orchestra and the singers studied the exceptional music created for the performance by the composer Rochus Dedler.
From the chronicle of the village by the former parish priest Joseph Alois Daisenberger
For Oberammergau, the early decades of the 17th century passed as a period of blissful peace.
But this was followed by the Thirty-Year War, which brought particular pain and suffering to Bavaria. In 1632, the country was invaded by Swedish troops. After they had captured Augsburg on 20 April and Landsberg on 4 May, a horde of enemy cavalry forced its way into the Ammer valley on 4 June - with the aim of attacking the monastery of Ettal. However, in wise precaution, all valuables had already been brought to safety, and upon the arrival of the enemy, the abbot and the monks had fled into the mountains. The only two people remaining in the monastery were Father Josef Hess and organist Zieglmeier. Father Josef welcomed the guests with friendliness, but was pitifully beaten, received a number of heavy blows and was finally shot with two bullets in his body. Zieglmeier suffered a similar fate.
Even if our Ammergau region did not suffer as directly from the hardships of war under Swedish rule as other parts of Bavaria and Germany as a whole, the village was not spared the consequences of this lengthy period of strife and the associated dearth. As early as 1631, infectious diseases broke out in Swabia and Bavaria. In Oberammergau, too, a raging fever was rampant, claiming the lives of several inhabitants.
In 1632, this fever, commonly called the wild headache, raged even worse. Many people died. But there was no end to the misery as yet. In neighbouring villages, the plague began to cause terrible havoc. In the parish of Kohlgrub, it claimed so many lives that only two couples survived. In the parish of Eschenloh and the Earldom of Werdenfels, a horrifying number of people lost their lives.
Our village was saved from infection by careful vigilance - until the celebration of the church anniversary. Then a villager by the name of Kaspar Schiesler, who had worked during the summer as a farmhand for an Eschenloh farmer by the name of Mayr, brought the plague to the village.
He had thought that it would be a good idea to go home on the Saturday night to see how his wife and children were faring. So he walked across the mountain from Eschenloh on the evening before the celebration of the church anniversary on the Sunday before Michaelmas and arrived home unchallenged, because his house was one of the first in the village. By the following Monday, he was already a dead man. From that day to the Feast of Simon and Jude, 84 villagers died.
According to parish records, four more adults died in the month of November and six in December, amongst them the sacristan Hans Stikhl; in January of 1633, the plague claimed eight people, including the parish priest Primus Christeiner, followed by 14 in February, 20 in March, amongst them the parish priest Marcellus Fatiga, 13 in April and seven in May.
In the great suffering brought to this community by the dreadful plague, the elders of the parish, the Six and the Twelve, came together to make the solemn vow every ten years to perform the tragedy of Christ's passion. From that day onward, not a single villager died of the plague, even though many still bore the signs of the disease. In the following year of 1634, the play of the passion of our Lord was first performed to honour this vow, and this tradition was then continued.