In the early days, it was a shooting range (Schützenhaus) in Leipzig’s Wintergartenstrasse, established in 1832.
Laboris Industriis Civibus Requies - “recreation for the industrious citizen” was emblazoned above the entrance. A motto that the Krystallpalast, built 50 years later, also adopted.
A few years after it was built, the Schützen Herrlichkeit was purchased by Karl Hoffmann (head waiter at the renowned Hotel de Saxe) for a handsome 55,000 thalers and a thriving entertainment business came into being. A splendidly furnished banqueting hall was inaugurated.
Some 11,000 guests visited the extensive facilities on the occasion of the 2nd German Gymnastics Fair in 1862. What is more, a large fountain system in the pleasure gardens and 10,600 gas lamps that illuminated the entire area, which had now taken on truly princely dimensions, captivated visitors at the time. In the winter of 1872, Saxony's King John, his wife, and Albert, heir to the throne, were guests at the grand court ball. Four years later, His Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm arrived with a large entourage in tow for an imperial banquet. To round off this distinguished gallery: The “waltz king” Johann Strauss junior also made a guest appearance here with his orchestra.
However, all this splendour went up in flames during Whitsun in 1881 as a result of a somewhat oversized fireworks display. Leipzig’s Schützenhaus was history.
But it did not take long for campaigners and donors who rolled up their sleeves and invested to be found. 1882 saw the opening of Leipzig's "Krystallpalast" - the city's first, largest and most famous variety theatre. Built entirely of glass and iron, a new complex had been created with a theatre hall to accommodate 800 visitors situated in the centre. With a conservatory, exhibition hall, restaurants and function rooms on several floors, the complex could accommodate up to 15,000 guests. The Krystallpalast was regarded as Germany’s largest entertainment venue.
A gigantic circus hall with room for 3,000 spectators was opened in 1887. Named after the then King of Saxony, the Alberthalle reached an imposing height of 36 metres. Incidentally, the Krystallpalast was also home to Leipzig's largest restaurant. Over 1,000 guests were served here every evening.
Developments and setbacks
However, Leipzig's entertainment stronghold built its nationwide fame on the performers billed at the Varieté venue, which could accommodate 1,800 spectators. It was here that the brilliant humourist Otto Reutter earned his first fees, the talented juggler Enrico Rastelli was more or less a regular at the theatre and Josephine Baker thrilled not only Leipzig’s male audience with her dancing.
The entire complex was transformed into a field of rubble during a bombing raid on the night of 4 December 1943.
Search for the right location
But like in every other area, there was a turn of events following 1990 with surprising developments that nobody would have previously thought possible. This miraculous history with its many turbulent chapters, soaring highs, painful setbacks and, above all, a continued happy ending is thanks to people like Katrin Troendle, Bert Callenbach and Jens P. Riedel. Following several full-length shows at what is now Varieté Troendle, the trio founded Leipzig's “Krystallpalast-Varieté” in 1994. The search for a permanent home to reopen their Krystallpalast Varieté begins.
With the active support of Sparkasse Leipzig, the dream gradually began to take shape in 1995: The new venue was to be built at Magazingasse 4. A limited liability company was set up, construction work began and progress was swift.
Re-opening and a new start
1997: The new building opened on 17 November. Some 54 years after its destruction, Leipzig once again had a variety theatre - Krystallpalast Varieté. It is the first and only variety theatre in the new federal states to date.
It was a brilliant start: The international show “Etwas verrückt” was sold out every night for six weeks.
1997- 1999: Following a series of further superbly cast, well-attended and acclaimed productions, the gruelling combined workload of artistic and administrative responsibilities began to take its toll on the enthusiastic initiators. A variety of problems, including financial difficulties, emerge and pragmatic solutions were required.
2000: The company form was changed and the building at Magazingasse 4 run by Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig GmbH & Co. KG. Katrin Troendle and Bert Callenbach now focus on their artistic work (Troendle became known as the “Diva of Saxony”) and they continue to be welcome guests, as well as frequently booked performers. Following a change of managing director, Rüdiger Pusch took over as head of Krystallpalast Varieté in 2001 and the establishment began a course towards further consolidation.
2002: Krystallpalast Varieté’s first GANS GANZ ANDERS Dinner and Show is a complete success: For four weeks, a top-class variety spectacle combined with an outstanding four-course menu took place in a period marquee on Leipzig’s Burgplatz. In the years that followed, the show continued to celebrate success after success during the Christmas season.
The consequences of New Year’s Eve 2003/2004
Once again, fire plays an ignoble role in the history of the Krystallpalast: On New Year's Eve, the main theatre burns to the ground due to a technical defect. Thankfully, no people were injured - but continuing the performances was out of the question for the time being.
Once again, sleeves were rolled up. While successful productions are staged in a smaller provisional venue in the building, where the art of improvisation was barely discernible, a virtue was made of necessity in the theatre: The reconstruction becomes a radical rebuild, previous shortcomings were rectified, while the amount of space available and the technical capabilities were optimised. The small variety stage in Magazingasse was more attractive than ever for the “Nachtschwärmer” autumn show.
In addition, Krystallpalast Varieté is transformed into a theatre: Actors from the MDR “In aller Freundschaft” series performed the play “Gretchen 89ff.” here twice a week. The production became a real success and ran for almost three seasons.
Ten-year anniversary and expansion
Krystallpalast Varieté celebrated its 10-year anniversary and further expansion. An additional venue for a dinner and show in a mirrored marquee in Chemnitz was planned for December 2007.
In Leipzig, the Spiegelpalast had already opened its doors in October: For four weeks, the stars of the ARD series “In aller Freundschaft” provided entertainment with a range of programmes. Season 6 of the “GANS GANZ ANDERS” dinner and show started at the end of November.
Kongresshalle Leipzig, mirrored marquees and a variety show
In January 2008, the Krystallpalast Varieté team brought a new lease of life to a Leipzig venue that had been derelict for years. A historic mirrored marquee was erected in Leipzig’s “Kongresshalle” and the time-honoured performance venue resumed its operations. Big names from the music, comedy and theatre business attended the event. The pre-Christmas “Gans ganz anders” dinner show also relocated to the Kongresshalle. After two and a half years, the Kongresshalle was returned to the city of Leipzig to be comprehensively refurbished.
Nevertheless, Krystallpalast Varieté retained their “winter marquee”. For three years, the “GANS GANZ ANDERS” dinner and show was successfully staged on the grounds of the Industrial Museum in Chemnitz, again during the pre-Christmas season. Leipzig’s most successful productions were staged. The second site was discontinued in 2009 in favour of new activities in the Leipziger Neuseenland region and Spiegelpalast Leipzig’s return to Burgplatz.
Meanwhile, audience records were broken at Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig. Guests are particularly enthusiastic about non-verbal theatrical productions.
The ILLUSIA magic show at Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig in 2010 set an all-time audience record. For three months, a troupe of the world’s top magicians enchanted guests in Magazingasse. For the first time in ten years, all January shows were completely sold out.
VINETA on Störmthaler Lake
Involvement in the Neuseenland region starts to take shape. Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig has been operating the VINETA floating art installation since mid-June 2011. At a height of 15 metres, VINETA on Störmthaler Lake is currently known as the highest floating structure on a German lake and is a reminder of the locations that had to make way for open-cast lignite mining. Situated in the midst of Störmthaler Lake you will find VINETA: a “floating church” and a truly exceptional venue providing the perfect setting for weddings, cultural events and exclusive celebrations.
20 years of Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig
In November 2017, Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig celebrated its 20th anniversary with the variety show LA FÊTE. The celebrations last four months.
With effect from 1 September 2018, Peter Matzke took over the management of Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig GmbH & Co. KG from Rüdiger Pusch.
In the summer of 2018, Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig was responsible for the first time for the artistic production of LEIPZIGER MARKT MUSIK in cooperation with Leipziger Messe.
15 years of GANS GANZ ANDERS
Since 2002, Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig has been presenting the extravagant dinner show "GANS GANZ ANDERS" at Christmas time in the historic mirrored marquee in Leipzig's city center.
In 2016, the extravagant dinner show GANS GANZ ANDERS celebrates its 15th anniversary. In the world's largest mirrored marquee "Queen of Flanders", Krystallpalast Varieté Leipzig presents the big anniversary gala with top acts of international artistry, live music and dance. An exclusive 4-course menu is served on two floors of the mirror tent, which can be seen for the first time in Europe.