Anita Ammersfeld grew up in Vienna, Austria, and in Toronto, Canada. She started her career as opera singer. Later on she turned into an actress, producer, and artistic director of her own theatre:
- 1963 – 1966: Vocal studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada
- 1967: First TV appearance in Gerhard Bronner‘s “Showfenster”, duet with Georg Danzer and recording with Georg Danzer “Du suchst im Spiegel dein Gesicht“ (you’re looking for your face in the mirror).
- 1967 – 1970: Vocal studies at the Konservatorium der Stadt Wien in Vienna, Austria
- 1970 – 1974: Vocal studies at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna, Austria
- 1974: Debut as Cherubino in “The Marriage of Figaro“ as the then youngest ensemble member of the Volksoper Vienna
- 1973: Recording of “Jedes Lied erzählt von Liebe“ (each song tells of love), CBS
- 1977: Complete works recording “Das Nachtlager von Granada“ (the bivouac of Granada) by Conradin Kreutzer, Preiser Records, ORF
- 1979: Change from opera soubrette to lyrical soprano, making a name for herself throughout the German-speaking countries
- 1979-xxxx: Engagements as versatile opera and operetta singer at opera houses and theatres, concert performances and numerous television appearances across Europe: in Vienna, Zurich, Munich, Mainz, Graz, Lucerne, Würzburg, Wiesbaden, Paris, Brussels, Jerusalem, Braunschweig, Augsburg, Mannheim, St. Gallen and Klagenfurt.
Recordings also beyond the opera and operetta repertoire:
BEYOND OPERA – ed CDs
- 1999: Anita Ammersfeld singt jiddische Lieder (Anita Ammersfeld sings Yiddish songs)
- 1999: Ich hab kein scharfes Messer (I have no sharp knife) with Gerhard Bronner, Ethan Freeman
- 2000: Anita Ammersfeld singt Liebeslieder (Anita Ammersfeld sings love songs)
- 2003: Ich liebe Dich nicht. Eine Hommage an Kurt Weill (I don’t love you. A tribute to Kurt Weill)
When Anita Ammersfeld became a mother, she left behind the artistic vagabond life as a singer living out of a suitcase and started anew. She followed her vision of quality art that she now wanted to create on her own. She founded the Musikforum Ammersfeld (The Ammersfeld Music Forum) and started producing her own shows. Later on, 2005-2015, she would produce for her own theatre, the stadtTheater walfischgasse:
1988: Founding of Musikforum Ammersfeld (The Ammersfeld Music Forum).
1988-xxxx: Pioneering work in the field of Jewish and Yiddish music with a focus on themes and artists of the interwar and post-war periods. Other productions included musical satire, plays and operettas. Guest performances of her productions took place in the federal states of Austria, Prague, Berlin, Luxembourg, Jerusalem and the Arab Emirates.
First own productions and roles with a focus on Jewish themes and music:
1995: “Das Schtetl und so“ (the Shtetl and so on), written and directed by Heinz Ehrenfreund, also starring Heinz Ehrenfreund, Roman Grinberg und den Freijlachs and Elio Gervasi Dance Company, K & K Theater, Vienna
1996: “Oj, wie entfernt” (oy, how remote) written and directed by Heinz Ehrenfreund, Theater Akzent, Vienna YouTube
19xx: “Eine schrecklich nette Mischpoche” (a terribly nice mishpokhe), written and directed by Michaela Scheday, also starring Roman Greenberg, Ensembletheater, Vienna YouTube
1997: “Uj jessas, nur net schlag'n” (my goodness, just don’t hit) written by and co-starring Gerhard Bronner, directed by Michael Maurer, Rabenhof, Vienna YouTube
2000: “Ocean of Crystals and Tears,” an installation by Bernd Fasching, also starring Michaela Scheday, Roman Grinberg, Adi Schober and Harald Haslinger in St. Stephen's Cathedral (west gallery), Vienna
2001: “Anonyme Jüdische Mütter” (anonymous Jewish mothers), written and directed by Michaela Scheday, also starring Erika Deutinger, Felicitas Morawitz, Karoline Zeisler, Roman Grinberg, Ensemble Theater, Vienna YouTube
2002: “Von Bis nach Seit - Eine Hommage an Erich Fried” (from until to since - a tribute to Erich Fried), directed by Michaela Scheday and Wolfgang Palka, written by Julia Patuzzi and Wolfgang Palka, also starring Michaela Scheday and Elio Gervasi, Festspielhaus St. Pölten and in old movie theaters, Vienna YouTube
2002: “Ich liebe dich nicht - Eine Hommage an Kurt Weill” (I don’t love you - a tribute to Kurt Weill), directed by Elfriede Ott, written by Georg Markus, Haus der Musik, Festspielhaus St. Pölten, Theater am Steg in Baden YouTube
At some point, Ammersfeld thought it was time for new challenges and decided to go on stage without music. In various plays, she acted with Felix Dvorak, Elfriede Ott and Fritz Muliar and later in her own productions in the theater she would take over and run for 10 years in Vienna’s Walfischgasse.
- 2002: “Drunter und Drüber” (above and below) by Georges Feydeau, directed by Felix Dvorak, Sommerfestspiele Berndorf
- 2003: “Paris ist eine Reise wert” (“Mussote”) by Guy de Maupassant, directed by Felix Dvorak, Komödienfestspiele Mödling YouTube
- 2004: “Frühere Verhältnisse” (past relationships) by Johannes Nepomuk Nestroy, directed by Elfriede Ott, Sommerspiele Burg Liechtenstein YouTube
- 2006: “Heimat, sweet Heimat” (Home, sweet Home) by Charles Lewinsky, directed by Hanspeter Horner, stadtTheater walfischgasse YouTube
- 2009: “Kleine Eheverbrechen“ (“Petits crimes conjugaux”) by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, directed by Thomas Schendel, stadtTheater walfischgasse YouTube
- 2012: “Der Tod und das Mädchen“ (“Death and the Maiden”) by Ariel Dorfmann, directed by Thomas Schendel, stadtTheater walfischgasse YouTube
- 2013: „Halbe Wahrheiten“ („Relatively Speaking“) von Alan Ayckbourn, Regie Carolin Pienkos, stadtTheater walfischgasse YouTube
- 2015: „Zweifel“ („Doubts“) von John Patrick Shanley, Regie Christine Wipplinger, stadtTheater walfischgasse YouTube
THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
In 2005, Anita Ammersfeld took over a renowned theatre with a long-standing tradition in Vienna’s Walfischgasse. She completely renovated the then run-down house, newly established it as stadtTheater walfischgasse, and created a contemporary artistic profile and a corresponding structure.
Under her leadership, the stadtTheater presented plays, upscale musical theater, concerts by international artists, cabarets, and satirical pieces. The in-house productions included commissioned works by renowned contemporary authors such as Charles Lewinsky, Peter Patzak, Peter Turrini, Lida Winiewicz, Rupert Henning and Felix Mitterer as well as other world premieres. Many of these productions referred to current affairs in politics and society.
Formats also included musical solo programs or sophisticated talk formats with hosts Danielle Spera and Peter Huemer, renowned in their own right, and their top level guests fromwalks of life, ranging from politicians to entertainers or religious opinion leaders (e. g. Karl Count of Schwarzenberg, Joachim Gauck, Gregor Gysi, Arik Brauer, Harald Schmidt, Sophie Freud, Erika Pluhar, Hannes Androsch, Reinhold Messner, Cardinal Bishop Christoph Schönborn, Chief Rabbi Paul Chaim Eisenberg and many more).
Anita Ammersfeld also got international stars off the beaten track to perform in her theatre such as of the singer-poet Herman van Veen and his congenial partner world-class guitarist Edith Leerkes, the shrill-macabre British trio The Tiger Lillies or the rock, sex & drugs era survivor Marianne Faithfull.
Under Ammersfeld’s leadership the stadtTheater walfischgasse became a force to be reckoned with in the Viennese theater scene.
After 10 labor-intensive years Anita Ammersfeld decided to end her era as artistic director, to rent the theatre to the Vienna State Opera as their second stage and to start into a new life stage where still anything is possible.
Anita Ammersfeld Runs A Theatre – The True Story
Anita Ammersfeld didn’t originally plan to run a theater. That’s because she knew in advance that it’s no stroll, but a relentless 24/7 job. But some others including her adrenaline needy husband Erwin Javor had this fantasy. Robert Jungbluth, former CEO of the Austrian Federal Theaters and later co-director of the Theater in der Josefstadt. Gerhard Bronner, former artistic director of the theater in Walfischgasse when it was still the legendary Neues Theater am Kärntnertor, and Ronald Leopoldi, son of song writer Hermann Leopoldi. Theygot sparkles in their eyes at the thought of (again) having a theater:
Robert Jungbluth, himself a passionate lover of the theater and of the former Kärntnertortheater in particular, never tired of lovingly and enthusiastically assuring Ammersfeld just how wonderful she would do it, and how enriching and valuable this artistic vision she would transform into a tangible reality was.
Gerhard Bronner did not tire to insist that he would never again run a theater during his lifetime but just loved the idea that somebody else would bother to bring his old theatre back to life again. He came up with plenty of ideas and suggestions about how someone else should go about it.
Ronald Leopoldi most likely envisioned the musical legacy of his father brought back to life before his eyes.
And Erwin Javor liked the role of impresario because he, on one hand, had, purely by chance, a potential artistic director at hand. On the other hand, pulling it off and making even a theater economically thrive appealed to the successful businessman and excited him even more in the face of legions of naysayers convinced of failure to come.
While this little circle of distinguished gentlemen strategized to create a new theater, Anita Ammersfeld supported them mentally (she did not immediately declare them insane) and physically (by providing first-class catering). But running a theater herself was something she definitely did not have in mind. That’s despite the fact that, in theory, she found the idea attractive since by then she’d been a theater professional for too long not to care. In contrast to the male visionaries around her, however, she knew beforehand what it really, really meant to run a theater.
After a while, the time had come. The former “Kleine Komödie” that was once Gerhard Bronner's legendary “Kärntertortheater” in Vienna’s Walfischgasse was forced to close, fell into a deep sleep, and waited for someone to assume responsibility and reopen.
Enter: the Javors. They invested their private funds in the renovation (at that time the aforementioned arts and culture enthusiasts were quiet and very invisible). Anita Ammersfeld developed a sophisticated artistic concept while the culture cliques reveled in prognostic schadenfreude on predicted failure – that as time has told did not happen. Ten years later, when she had achievedof the artistic goals she had envisioned, Ammersfeld decided to end her era as artistic director and move on.
1995: Ehrenkreuz für Wissenschaft und Kunst der Republik Österreich (honor cross for science and art in the Republic of Austria), awarded by the Federal President of Austria in recognition of her numerous concerts abroad as well as for her services and contributions to the understanding of Jewish culture
2002: Goldenes Verdienstzeichen des Landes Wien (gold medal of merit of the province of Vienna), awarded by the City Counselor for Cultural Affairs
2008: Ehrung der Wirtschaftskammer Österreich für Verdienste in der Wiener Kultur- und Freizeitwirtschaft (honor award from the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber), bestowed for her merits advancing Vienna's cultural and leisure industry
2015: Goldenes Ehrenzeichen für Verdienste um das Land Wien (gold medal of merit of the province of Vienna) awarded by City Counselor for Cultural Affairs
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