From 2006 to 2019 FAUST – The Rock Opera on the Brocken was performed a total of 387 times with around 90,000 visitors. This is a unique success story in the Harz Mountains. The events take place in the Goethe-Saal within the buildings on the Brocken. The Goethe-Saal is the highest stage building in Germany at an altitude of 1146 m.
Due to its northern, exposed location, the Brocken summit with 1141.2 m corresponds climatically to the altitude of around 1,800 m in the Swiss Alps. There is a rough, sub-alpine climate with sometimes very strong winds. That’s why the top of the Brocken is above the tree line. For more than 300 days, the Brocken is shrouded in fog, what gives it a mystical aura.
The Harzer Schmalspurbahnen offers a very special event:
You’ll travel around 90 minutes through extraordinary landscapes on the Brocken in the Mephisto-Express, a historic HSB steam train. The steam trains are between 70 and 120 years old. The train starts at the main station in Wernigerode. You can get on the train on all stations on the route from Wernigerode to Drei Annen Hohne and Schierke.
Travelling to the Brocken with the Mephisto-Express.
The team of the HSB will takes care of you during the journey.
When arriving on the Brocken, the highlight will start after a short break while having a drink. For this you enter the theatre hall with 265 seats. FAUST I oder FAUST II awill be presented to you in a very special way as a rock opera. Each of the two operas consists of 26 songs and was written by librettist and composer Dr. Rudolf Volz.
The playing time of the first half lasts about 60 minutes. Then there is a break of half an hour. During this time, the Brockenwirt will serve you a delicious and devilis meal in his restaurant. If the performance is in the evening then the meal is served at the beginning of the show. The second half of the show lasts about 70 minutes. After show, the team of the HSB will bring you back to your boarding station. All in all you experience a fantastic event over more than 7 hours.
To each of the two shows FAUST I and FAUST II there exists a program guide. These give an overview of the individual songs with the corresponding storyline. All songs can be listened to on YouTube with text display.
For ages, the Brocken has exerted a magical fascination on people for ages. In the distant past, Germanic shamans are said to have held occult spring rituals on the mystical mountain to drive away the winter. Later, Christian missionaries declared that witches and devils would sin in wild orgies on the Brocken. How frightening the wild stories must have appeared on the population can be seen from the fact, that they have not been forgotten up to this day. Nobody should get too close to the mountain.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe climbed the Brocken on December 10th, 1777 for the first time. The mountain resisted with fog, ice and snow. The rugged granite formations, the icy winds and the dancing fog created an eerie atmosphere. The whole thing was a daring venture, because at that time, the Brocken was not yet developed for tourism. Goethe did treat the ascent to the Brocken with the forester at the beginning of Walpurgis Night. The corresponding picture by Albert Zimmermann shows how Faust and Mephisto climb the Brocken.
The first ascent of Goethe is commemorated by a memorial stone next to the buildings on the Brocken. Goethe was on the Brocken three times. A detailed documentation is available on the Goethezeitportal.
The hiking trail that Goethe took on his first ascent is now known as the Goetheweg. The route begins at Torfhaus and is around 17 km long including the way back. The corresponding part of the route for ascenting the Brocken is still the most popular route today.
Goethe set a literary monument to the Brocken with the Walpurgis Night scene in his Faust. On Walpurgis Night, the witches celebrate a lavish festival with the devil on the Brocken summit. Many antique postcards bear witness to the witch’s dance on the Brocken and the associated tourist attraction. Today the Walpurgis Night is a traditional festivall and is celebrated extensively on April 30th in many Harz locations.
This antique postcard shows the affinity of the poet with the Brocken. The depiction of Goethe is based on the known image in the Campagna. The postcard contains a well-known quote from Goethe’s Faust, which is carved within the Brocken building:
The event FAUST – The Rock Opera on the Brocken is the visible sign of the connection between Goethe, Brocken, Faust and the Walpurgis Night. After 228 years, the literary work was presented as a show for the first time at its place of origin. See the television report of the mdr in LexiTV of August 28, 2009. This was the 260th birthday of the poet.
The Brocken Ghost is an optical illusion that occurs when the observer’s shadow falls on a layer of fog. Goethe is also said to have been frightened by his own ghost. Therefore this naming goes back to him. The ghostly, the many legends and the frequent fog give the Brocken its mystical character.
The symbol of “the flying witch riding on a broom” is the sign of the Harz, which can be found there all year round. The painting by Annette Krainhöfner-Fink shows two Brocken witches and the Brocken Railway. It adorns a souvenir cup, which is available in tourist shops. Motifs from this picture can be found in the video for the song Auf den Harzer Schmalspurbahnen.
The steam locomotive puffs and smokes
On its way up to the Brocken.
The nostalgic steam trains of the Brockenbahn run to the hilltop. This is railroad romance at its best. The trains are between 70 and 120 years old. All other places can be comfortably reached on foot from Brockenbahnhof (2).
The Goethe memorial stone (9) is right at the entrance to the building. There is also a restaurant (10) and the Brockenhotel (10). This has a viewing platform and the tower café Hexenklause on the top floor. The Brockenhaus (7) is a museum and offers an extensive exhibition on the nature and history of the mountain. The Brockengarten (16) is a botanical garden with many rare plants.
The Brocken has developed into a tourist magnet. More than two million visitors come to the hilltop every year. Some days there are more than twenty thousand visitors. Record holder is the legendary Brocken-Benno, who hikes the summit every day and has done this for more than 8,888 times.
Horse-drawn carts start from the parking lot in Schierke and drive up to the mountain. There are various trails for hikers. Many mountain bikers consider the summit as a challenge. Motorized vehicles are not allowed except for e-bikes.
The journey to the Brocken starts at the main train station in Wernigerode. The train passes the new repair garage. The next stop is Westerntor.
There are very nice hotels close to the different boarding stations. You can find a small selection below. The tourist information will be happy to give you further information when calling the number 03943-55378-35
The project “FAUST on the Brocken” was initiated by Dr. Dietrich König, who was the sales manager of the HSB. There is a TV report by the mdr, a newspaper report by the Harzer Volksstimme and a brochure from the premiere on February 4th, 2006.
Goethe got inspired to the Walpurgis Night scene when climbing the Brocken for the first time. The literary work was presented as a show at the place of origin in winter and after 228 years for the first time.
Dr. König was able to realize the premiere of FAUST II on February 19th, 2010 just before his retirement. This is a TV report of the mdr. The Rock Opera FAUST II is the only implementation of the theatrical work as an opera and it is only performed on the Brocken. Lots of experts consider FAUST II to be the “crown of world literature”. Therefore, this is this is a very special event.
Two public buses demonstrate the tie between the rock opera and the Harz region. One bus drives between Schierke and Braunlage, the other between Wernigerode and Quedlinburg.
In addition to the Brocken, Auerbachs Keller in Leipzig is another location to which a scene was dedicated in FAUST.
With almost 800 performances, “FAUST – The Rock Opera” is most-performed the version of Goethes FAUST.
Falko Illing is the actor of Mephisto. He done all performances since the premiere in 1997.
Music, Libretto, Staging and Translation in English of “FAUST – The Rock Opera” by
Dr. Rudolf Volz
Additional Composing and Arrangements by
Michael Wagner, Matthias Kohl, Uwe Rodi, Uwe Rublack