The unique architectural complex of the Domberg (Cathedral hill) simply cries out to be a theatrical stage. The staircase leading to the Cathedral and the Church of St Severus, with its 72 steps, is ideal for staging religious ceremonies and secular performances.
There is documentary evidence of occasional theatrical events here back in the Middle Ages, but it was not until the 1960s that regular summer performances were staged by Städtische Bühnen Erfurt for a few years.
Then, in 1994, on the initiative of Dietrich Taube, General Director of Theater Erfurt at the time, the DomStufen-Festspiele in Erfurt was established, which has been organised every summer since then. After the first Festival season, with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, the emphasis in selecting the works was initially on the 20th century pieces that offered the opportunity for all divisions of Theater Erfurt then – drama, singing, dance and orchestra – to be involved. It was directed then by the General Director Dietrich Taube and there was a new production and a revival of the previous year’s production every season. In 2009, the programme was expanded for the first time in the morning and afternoon by the productions forming part of DOMINO - DomStufen-Festspiele for children. The constantly rising number of visitors led in 2001 to a doubling of the seating capacity in the stands, which now hold 2,105 seats.
Under General Director Guy Montavon, there was a change in artistic orientation in 2002. From then on, grand operas and musicals were part of the programme. Instead of a revival, the elaborately staged new productions were performed more frequently in summer. Since the staging of Carmen in 2018, there have been 21 performances per season. In 2019, for the first time, over 50,000 festival guests saw the first performance of the musical Der Name der Rose and the children’s work Pettersson und Findus und der Hahn im Korb as part of the DomStufen-Festspiele.