"We wanted to perform it only once – but now the glacier spectacle has become the Alpine Everyman", Ernst Lorenzi (Initiator)
Next April 22nd, the historical spectacle HANNIBAL will be performed again on the giant open-air stage at Sölden's Rettenbach Glacier. The performance of "HANNIBAL – The Crossing of the Alps" is all about the historical facts of the Second Punic War and its leading character Hannibal, who is described in a biographical way with all modern theater settings on a really incomparable Nature Arena.
The artistic network directed by Lawine Torrèn in collaboration with Sölden and Red Bull, has put on stage Hannibal's historic crossing of the Alps. 500 actors will take part in the new production of Carthage's epic attack on Rome by crossing the Alps with his army of elephants. But instead of elephants, the spectators will see snow-grooming machines. Sometimes silent, sometimes thundering, a precise choreography of dancers and avalanches, snowcats, motocross bikes, airplanes, helicopters, skidoos, parachutists, and skiers spreads across the fantastic mountains of the Ötztal Rettenbach Glacier. The ultimate showdown features plenty of music, light effects, video films, and a pyrotechnic show.
How Hannibal Show was born
Ernst Lorenzi, a local from Sölden and founder of this gigantic open-air theater spectacle, has always been convinced that the Alpine scenery of Rettenbach Glacier is truly unique. He thought that both the terrain and geographic features resemble a giant Colosseum – an ideal setting not only for winter sports but also for events of a very different kind. Together with Red Bull owner Didi Mateschitz, a magnificent idea was born: performing a theater play in the giant natural glacier arena! First, they thought about the story of “Ötzi – The Iceman”, but after three years the project was turned down. Soon after, Lorenzi met producer Hubert Lepka who also knew Didi Mateschitz. They talked about this glacier spectacle idea to connect skiing and aviation with classic mythology in contemporary fashion, including also snow-grooming machines as they resemble bulls or elephants. So the wheels were set in motion and Hubert Lepka suggested “Hannibal” – and the glacier play as we know it now was born.
The art group Lawine Torrèn, a Salzburg-based performance company known for their overwhelming site-specific spectacles, stages Hannibal’s life story in the form of a breath-taking glacier performance and as a modern parable about leadership, intrigues, world politics, and the striving for power.
In 2001, the first “Hannibal” performance took place. Since then the open-air spectacle has been set on stage on the Rettenbach Glacier every two years in the middle of April.
Since the first representation of Hannibal, around 75,000 viewers have experienced it in 14 performances.
"We are pleased that the Hannibal project is a role model on an international scale for the connection between culture and the tourism industry," says Jack Falkner from Bergbahnen Sölden.
Hannibal's crossing of the Alps in 218 BC with 60,000 men and 37 elephants was one of the major events of the Second Punic War, and one of the most celebrated achievements of any military force in ancient warfare. He overcame steep mountainsides, fast-changing weather, and avalanches. Although Hannibal’s army was superior, they did not conquer the city of Rome.
In 202 BC the Roman Empire struck back and defeated Hannibal in the battle of Zama under the leadership of Scipio. Rome became the leading power in the Mediterranean while Carthage, which was located near today’s Tunis, lost all of its status.
The initiator of the HANNIBAL project Ernst Lorenzi describes the atmosphere up to 3000 m altitude as follows: "The battle of Zama roars at the tongue of the glacier. Directly in front of the spectators, Hannibal is defeated by his Roman counterpart Scipio. While humans and machines head towards a culmination in frantic chaos, Hannibal flees the scenery quietly, dangling from a helicopter upside down".
Harald Krassnitzer narrates the story accompanied by an intoxicating soundtrack. From dusk until total darkness cutting-edge light design and special effects reinforce the enormous size of the stage. A fictional channel Carthage TV reports breaking news from the studio next to the snow pyramid, which alternately represents Carthage and Rome.
"Thousands of visitors act as multiplicators of a spectacular show which is designed as a direct experience for all senses and is staged in a landscape which we want to show as untouched as possible. During the day thousands of skiers on the slopes hardly look further than the tips of their skis. During the evening of the show, however, when the mountains’ endless silence streams down from the slopes and floods the place, their excited eyes will look up to the bizarre forms of ice and snow. In today’s media-centered world this natural spectacle is forward-thinking and acts against the loss of nature. A well-thought-through adventure, which is staged analogously and in real-time", says director Hubert Lepka.
At the rear end of the panoramic Glacier Road, you will find the natural stage of Rettenbach Glacier, encircled by mighty Alpine summits, a perfect setting inspiring a highly intensive and almost movie-like experience. At nightfall, the horizon draws silhouettes of the 3000 m high mountain peaks. This is the picture frame for the world's largest show stage formed by nature itself. All Cinemascope screens and IMAX formats are outshined by this natural Glacier Stage.
Hannibal's scene spreads through the Rettenbach Glacier and its bizarre ice formations creating a really incomparable set, embedded in breathtaking 3000m-high mountain peaks.
Right in front of the spectators' area, an antique site made of snow and ice is placed. On the right, you see Dido's Palace similar to a Maya Pyramid - the pre-Columbian Chichen Itza was its model.
A few meters from the audience an elevated platform with embankments serves as the playground for the snow-grooming machines, as a stage for the dancers, and as terrain for motocross bikes. The Carthago TV broadcasting studio is situated next to the Pyramid. Cameras, spotlights, and a seating corner are positioned in front of a luminous, 42m² video wall.
The audience is standing in the car park next to the mountain restaurant at no less than 2700 meters above sea level. Exactly from here, the open-air stage rises another 1300 meters, reaching the ideal height for parachutists.
This truly outstanding scene is light-flooded by the sun and the moon and the stars, in cooperation with countless floodlights and spotlights boasting some 200,000 watts. A state-of-the-art sound system adds to a memorable theater experience at high altitude: The images of the play are in perfect harmony with imaginative scenes - both in excellent stereo sound!
Staging: Lawine Torrèn
Text: Joey Wimplinger
Speaker: Harald Krassnitzer
Music composition: Peter Valentin
Choreography: Donna Jewell
Light design: Frank Lischka
Karthago TV: Stefan Aglassinger
Pyro effects: Christian Czech
Costumes: Janett Sumbera
Production Director: Klaudia Gründl de Keijzer
Idea and director: Hubert Lepka
Constructions: Bergbahnen Sölden
Initiator and head of OC: Ernst Lorenzi
The last time we attended the event was in April 2019, and as on previous occasions, we can confirm that we are facing one of the most spectacular events in the world.
A macro-show in which a total of 500 people participated, including actors, dancers, and a large group of extreme athletes made up of skiers, helicopter pilots, paragliders, and motorcyclists. All of them, under the direction of Hubert Lepka, once again contributed to the success of this unique production.
One more thing... We cannot forget that Hannibal is a show, an open-air theatrical performance on the Rettenbach Glacier, so in order to attend, we must dress up in warm winter clothes.
Friday, April 22nd 2022 | 7:30 p.m.
Rettenbachferner Sölden | Ötztal | Tirol