It was Max Reinhardt who suggested that the Winter Riding School should be converted, and it was also his idea to transform the Summer Riding School (Felsenreitschule) into a theatre.

During the first half of the 17th century conglomerate rock was quarried here for the building of the cathedral. In 1693, during the reign of Prince-Archbishop Johann Ernst Thun, according to plans by the Baroque master architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, three tiers of 96 arcades were hewn into the walls of the disused quarry so that from here people could watch equestrian displays and animal baiting events.

In 1926, when Max Reinhardt first attempted to use the Felsenreitschule to stage Goldoni’s »Servant of Two Masters« for the Salzburg Festival, the ambience was ideal for the »realistic« character comedy in the style of popular theatre: the action took place on a so-called »Pawlatschenbühne«, a small raised platform, the ground consisted of compressed earth and the audience sat on wooden benches. In 1933 Clemens Holzmeister built a remarkable set for the production of »Faust« in the Felsenreitschule, the »Faust Town« which is still regarded as one of the most impressive transformations of this venue. The first opera production in the Felsenreitschule took place in 1948 when Herbert von Karajan conducted Gluck’s »Orfeo ed Euridice«.


From the end of the 1960s radical conversion and adaptation work took place, mainly according to plans by the »festival architect« Clemens Holzmeister. An understage area, an orchestral pit and a lighting bridge were installed, a weatherproof roll-back roof to offer protection against rain and cool summer evenings, and finally an auditorium with boxes and circles as well as a depot for scenery were created.
Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s staging of Mozart’s »Die Zauberflöte« which was presented here every summer from 1978 to 1986, achieved legendary status. The same is true of Shakespeare’s plays »Julius Caesar«, »Coriolanus«, and »Anthony and Cleopatra« in the productions by Peter Stein and Deborah Warner (»Coriolanus«), which in the early 1990s were internationally acclaimed.
A new grandstand was already installed in the Felsenreitschule in the course of the construction of the new Haus für Mozart, which resulted in improved viewing conditions and acoustics for the audience. Since June 2011 the Felsenreitschule has had a new roof.

Venue for the Salzburg Easter Festival

For the first time, the Salzburg Easter Festival 2023 will also perform at the Felsenreitschule. Here, for example, the dance piece »Träume« by Emanuel Gat will be premiered.