Howard Carpendale has also become a classic, so it’s only logical that he should make a big appearance at this year’s Classic Open Air. “A stage animal”, praises organizer Gerhard Kampf, “he really does rock’n roll”, resurrects Elvis Presley, but also has his own classics in the program: Ti Amo, Hello Again, door to door with Alice.

After a two-year Corona break, there will be another open-air music festival on the Gendarmenmarkt with evergreens from the history of classical, hit and pop music, with many soloists and large orchestras. Gerhard Kampf and his partner Mario Hempel presented the program of the Classic Open Air on Thursday in the Hilton Hotel on Gendarmenmarkt.

Well-known works by Haydn, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Mozart can be heard from July 7th to 11th, played by the Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau, “Mediterranean opera hits from Verdi to Bizet”, interpreted by the Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock, and world hits by Frank Sinatra, sung by Sinatra fan Tom Gaebel, who performs with the Deutsche Oper Big Band. Program information and tickets (49 to 108 euros) are available online at

The Classic Open Air celebrates its 30th anniversary. On July 16, 1992, José Carreras opened the festival “in front of a sold-out audience”. Since then there have been many musical goosebump moments, but also some financial ones. At the beginning of 1998 the festival was insolvent, Mario Hempel joined the team, took care of a new start and got more sponsors on board. The next crisis came in 2005, again a rescue package had to be put together, after all the cancellation of the festival in 2020 and 2021 triggered the next major existential crisis – “a heavy bloodletting”, says Kampf, for the open-air event, but also for the culture all in all.

It wasn’t easy to get the event back on its feet, explains Hempel, if only because many employees from the event and concert industry resigned during the Corona period. “30 to 40 percent fewer people, plus 30 to 40 percent increase in costs.” Nevertheless, it was possible to get the suppliers and sponsors back on board. So far 15,000 tickets for the festival have been sold, “Carpendale in particular is doing well,” saysschlacht, and the opening evening on Thursday, July 7th, which traditionally features a big gala, musical surprises and fireworks.

The “First Night” will be performed primarily by the singer Katharine Mehrling, known from the Stauffenberg film “Operation Valkyrie”, in which she appears as a singer in an officers’ club. Most recently she appeared in Dessau at the Kurt Weill Festival. Mehrling is accompanied by the Berliner Symphoniker, she wants to start by singing “Tell me where the flowers are”, an anti-war song by Pete Seeger that once made Marlene Dietrich world-famous.

She wants to use this to refer to the war in Ukraine because the song “has such a history and creates a moment of hope, but doesn’t forget what is happening here”. As early as 2018, Mehrling touched the open-air audience with a Marlene Dietrich medley.

She has also taken on the Mackie Knife hit from The Threepenny Opera and “Shallow”, the duet by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Singer/songwriter Max Mutzke, pianist and moderator Joja Wendt, a regular guest at the Open Air, and music comedian Lars Redlich will also perform.

The Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock will perform on the second day of the festival together with the Junges Ensemble Berlin (choir). The third day belongs to the Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau; the musicians accompany, among others, the soloist Avi Avital on his mandolin and the Ernst Senff Choir.

Also Carpendale, who performs on the fourth day, Sunday 10 July, is accompanied by a band and a string ensemble. The organizers aim to overwhelm the audience with powerful sound. Especially on the last evening, when the big bands of swing pope Andrej Hermlin and the Deutsche Oper Berlin perform.

One after the other, but also against each other, as Sebastian Krol from the opera big band announces. A drum battle is planned between the drummers. Singer Tom Gaebel, who plays trombone and drums himself, is particularly looking forward to this meeting.

Gaebel is regarded as a Sinatra disciple, as “Germany’s crooner”. Together with the jazz singer Angelika Weiz, he interprets the great songs of various US show legends – “with the fat big band of the Deutsche Oper, it’s going to be absolutely crazy,” announces Gaebel.

In the case of Andrej Hermlin, the band founder’s own children ensure the great feelings in the audience – Rachel and David Hermlin sing.

5260 seats are to be filled every evening. The organizers are confident that after the two-year abstinence there will be a great need for live concerts, precisely because of the major crises of the day. But the concert-goers on the Gendarmenmarkt really no longer need to be afraid of the corona virus, says Kampf.