German premiere of Harry Potter enthralls Hamburg

Standing ovations for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"
07 December 2021
Harry Potter Premiere

The Hogwarts boarding school for young wizards has arrived in Hamburg complete with burning beds, flying chairs and dancing staircases. After several postponments,"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" finally celebrated its German premiere in front of 1,670 spectators at the Mehr! Theatre Hamburg in 2G conditions and with obligatory masks. The two-part performance of almost three hours each met with standing ovations and rapturous applause for both acting and the impressive magical effects. 

All grown-up heroes 

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by Joanne K. Rowling has been staged in London, New York, San Francisco and Melbourne so far. "The global hit 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Enchanted Child' is an excellent addition to the diverse and top-class cultural offers in the city," said Dr Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media, after the premiere. "I am incredibly proud that the play is finally celebrating its premiere in Hamburg - the first ever in a non-English-speaking country," said J.K. Rowling.

© Manuel Harlan
Premiere of Harry Potter

Harry, Ron and Hermione defeated Lord Voldemort - or "he whose name shall not be spoken" 19 years ago. The  child heroes of the books are adults in "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child", which focuses on Harry's son Albus Severus Potter and his friend Scorpius Malfoy. The magical world faces a fierce battle between good and evil in a bid to bring the dead back to life with the help of an illegal time reverser. The impending danger makes for a fantastic, magical spectacle and stunning effects.

EUR 42 million for world of magic

Around EUR 42 million were invested in production and refurbishments including stage technology and a brand new restaurant pavilion outside the hall, said Mehr-BB Entertainment GmbH. Although the measures have halved the capacity of the Mehr! Theatre to about 1,700 spectators, the conversion has led to all kinds of authentic special effects. Flames flickering across the stage, actors disappearing and reappearing in new roles and garb in utterly magical scenes stunned spectators.

Harry Potter City Hamburg

Hamburg won out over Berlin to stage the German premiere. The city is the world's the third largest musical location after New York and London. Carlsen Publishing in Altona had bought the copyrights to the the hit book series.

"Hamburg has a long theatre tradition as a city where state and private theatres complement each other making for outstanding productions. 'Harry Potter' adds a unique facet to Hamburg's cultural offers and reflects the increased perception of Hamburg as a city of culture," said Brosda. "The production is absolutely unique, I have never seen anything like it," said Michael Otremba, Managing Director of Hamburg Tourismus GmbH:

Harry Potter Premiere
© Jochen Quast
Harry Potter Premiere

Hamburg as a centre of culture

The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Tom Sachs exhibition in the Deichtorhallen, Emil Nolde in the Bucerius Kunstforum, John Neumeier and the Hamburg Ballet as well as great musicals are drawing more and more fans to the city. The Reeperbahn Festival is also a magnet for the international music scene. And the German government recently earmarked an investment of up to EUR 60 million to refurbish the Kulturfabrik Kampnagel as an internationally renowned theatre venue.

Roaring success for Carlsen Publishing

The Harry Potter books have sent Carlsen Publishing’s sent sales soaring. Over 36 million Harry Potter books have sold in Germany alone and well over 500 million copies worldwide. The adventures of the sorcerer's apprentice are now available in 80 languages and have led to unprecedentedly high first print runs. Volume 4, for instance, launched in 2000 with one million copies; by 2007, volume 7 had already sold three million samples. The publishing house has grown considerably in terms of turnover, range of publications and workforce to become the largest children's book publisher in the German-speaking countries. Turnover has risen from DM 33.6 million in 1999 when volumes 2 and 3 of Harry Potter were released to EUR 76 million in 2019. Employee numbers grew from 39 to 159 in the same period.