Hey-ho, Fat Lady!


Who Will Be Performing?

hr3 Open Air will kick off with Silbermond and Andreas Bourani on 9 June. They will be followed by the Just 90s party from Hit Radio FFH on the following day. On 11 June, Scorpions will take to the stage, followed by Kings of Leon on 12 June. David Garrett will perform on 14 June, followed by Peter Maffay on 15 June. Una notte italiana with Zucchero will take place on 16 June. To cap it all off, there will be a ‘Just white’ party from FFH on 17 June.

People will listen to ‘Wind of Change’ instead of the quiet rumbles of diesel engines, tune into Saxon harmonies instead of thinking about Hessian engineering, and think back on past Grammy awards rather than the Car of the Year. Musical greats such as Scorpions, Kings of Leon, and Silbermond will take to the stage in the parking lot where Opel employees usually park their Insignias and Zafiras. This is why the Fat Lady, one of the largest mobile stages in Europe, is being erected in the parking lot of the Adam Opel building, along with extensions that are 47 meters wide, 14.5 meters deep, 21 meters high, and weigh 65 metric tons. It will take four days to transform the 30,000-square-meter parking lot into the Hessentag Arena, which will be at the heart of this year’s Hessentag festival in Rüsselsheim, Germany.

Around 30 men bustle across the construction site on this early Monday morning, hauling steel girders, screwing in bolts, and hammering away. Soon afterwards, an additional group of 60 men enter the stage to install lighting and sound equipment. They need to assemble traverses with a length of 470 meters, lay 15 kilometers of cables, and connect 120 speakers. Construction manager Matthias Andrä – from Megaforce, the Stage Company – is in charge of overseeing the construction of the enormous stage.

Teamwork: A vast number of workers need to join forces in order to build such a stage.

Supplies: 23 mega trailers deliver the materials.

The raising and fixing of the hall roof is delayed by a couple of hours. “These things can happen,” says the construction manager, wearing reflective sunglasses. “We need four days for the construction and we started early enough. The only thing that can hamper with our plans is the weather.” And so far, the sun has continued to shine in the cloudless sky.


The Perfect Infrastructure


The organizers from Kultur123, a cultural center based in Rüsselsheim, stop by the construction site, feeling just as relaxed. Eckhard Kunze, director of the educational and cultural center for Rüsselsheim, has been tirelessly working on organizing Hessentag for the last year and a half. The event will finally kick off on 9 June, and a major, crowd-pulling act will take to the stage each day until 17 June.

But why did the organizers choose the parking lot of the Adam Opel building, of all places? Kunze says: “The infrastructure is just so well connected. The train station is just a stone’s throw away, and shuttle busses can travel in from the large parking lot in Paffenschlund and from Raunheim.” A further benefit is that visitors to the Hessentag Arena can also use the Opel parking lot on the opposite side of the road in non-productive times. Of course, the company was very happy to give the green light: “Hessentag in Rüsselsheim? It is an honor for Opel to participate,” says the manager.


Fixed firmly in place: It is crucial to get every detail perfectly right when building the stage.


Preparing the stage: Heavy metal band Scorpions, rock band Kings of Leon from the south of the U.S., Italian pop stars Zucchero and Gianna Nannini, as well as star violinist David Garrett will perform on the stage.


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Text: Eric Scherer, Photos: Alex Heimann