Back in 2020, Courier talked with Christian Utpatel of Terra Lu Travel about the postponement of the Passion Play in Oberammergau. Because of COVID-19, the 2020 production of the renowned play, a once-a-decade fixture in the small German town, was put off for two years to give tour operators, airlines, and inbound agencies time to recover, according to Utpatel.
“And most importantly, travelers will have more trust, courage, and, hopefully, funds to travel again in 2022,” he said in the original interview.
Twenty months later, his words seem prophetic. Just as Utpatel predicted, the Passion Play is on for 2022, running mid-May through October 2. He says Germany has been open since September with few limitations for those who are vaccinated, and masks are also mandatory in indoor spaces.
Read below for more details about the production … and see how Utpatel’s faith during the depths of the pandemic is now being rewarded.
The Oberammergau play began in 1632. In medieval times, performances like the Passion Play and the nativity scene during Christmas were part of the community’s religious education.
“Instead of people reading the Bible, they would play the important stories, and no doubt, the passion of Jesus Christ is one of the most important stories of this world,” Utpatel said in a recent interview with NTA’s Todd Probus.
The show’s two-year delay only proved the resiliency of the Oberammergauer people and their desire to share the story of Christ’s love—similar to the time of the play’s inception, when 17th- century Europe was enduring the spread of horrific illness.
“It was in 1633, in the middle of the Thirty Years War after months of suffering and death from the plague, that the Oberammergauers swore the oath to perform the Passion every 10 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. And now we are here in our modern world, and again realize the threat of a disease. This reminds us that the Passion Play never was a tourist attraction, but a worship of the most important story mankind has to tell,” Utpatel said in the 2020 interview.
Now, international travelers pack their masks like they do their passports, and vaccinations are widely available. The Passion Play experience can be close to normal when attendees have these protective tools in tow. The Oberammergau theater is an open-air arena with 4,600 seats. Utpatel added that masking protocols there will likely be less strict than for indoor theaters.
He has full confidence the show will go on, as its dedicated performers and production team have preparations right on track. And because flexibility is now commonplace, groups can still arrange to travel to Oberammergau this year to see the Passion Play. The show’s duration is five hours with a three-hour intermission for dinner, running for 102 performances. Utpatel says tickets for the play include a one- to two-night hotel stay, depending on the itinerary, as a stop in Oberammergau is typically included in a longer journey through Europe.
For more information, visit passionplay.travel, or email Utpatel.
Top photo: Oberammergau Passion Play
Photo by bayern.by
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Terra Lu Travel & Consult GmbH