Amid Virus Surge, Salzburg Festival Announces Next Summer

Austria went into lockdown recently to counter a record number of coronavirus cases. But in Salzburg, where the surge has been sharp, there are plans for a brighter future.

On Friday the Salzburg Festival, classical music and opera’s most storied annual event, announced its 2022 summer season — back to prepandemic scale, with more than 200 events over six weeks beginning July 18.

A double bill of Bartok’s “Bluebeard’s Castle” and Orff’s rarely performed “De Temporum Fine Comoedia” will be staged by Romeo Castellucci and conducted by Teodor Currentzis. The soprano Asmik Grigorian will star in all three one-acts of Puccini’s “Il Trittico.” The director Barrie Kosky and the conductor Jakub Hrusa will collaborate on Janacek’s “Kat’a Kabanova.”

Cecilia Bartoli will take the main role in Rossini’s “Il Barbiere di Siviglia,” and Shirin Neshat’s 2017 production of Verdi’s “Aida” and Lydia Steier’s 2018 staging of Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” will get return engagements. There is a rich lineup of spoken drama, orchestra concerts — many featuring the festival’s house band, the Vienna Philharmonic — and recitals, including the usual enviable array of pianists.

The season will be the first under Kristina Hammer, the festival’s ne-w president, whose appointment was announced on Nov. 24. A marketing and communications specialist, Hammer follows Helga Rabl-Stadler’s quarter-century tenure, and she joins Markus Hinterhäuser, the artistic director, and Lukas Crepaz, the finance director, in a triumvirate that will continue to negotiate the pandemic, as well as oversee a major renovation of the festival’s theaters.

Hammer’s appointment “is a conscious step taken by the board in order to further internationalize the Salzburg Festival,” Wilfried Haslauer Jr., the region’s governor, said in a statement.

Buoyed by government subsidies and sponsorship deals, Salzburg has been able to weather the pandemic, putting on a fairly robust season in 2020 for limited audiences and returning to something akin to normal in 2021. The commemoration of the centennial of the festival, which was established in 1920, ended up being spread over the past two years.

The Overture Spirituelle, a week or so of events originally instituted to draw audiences in the quiet period before the operas are running in earnest, comes into its own next summer as truly “a festival in the festival,” Hinterhäuser said in an interview.

Some distinguished Overture ensembles include Currentzis’s MusicAeterna; Klangforum Wien; John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists; the Tallis Scholars; and “Messiah” forces led by Jordi Savall. Their performances lead up to the premiere of “Bluebeard” and “De Temporum Fine Comoedia” — a grand, frantically apocalyptic oratorio unveiled at Salzburg in 1973 — and a concert version of Wolfgang Rihm’s 1979 chamber opera “Jakob Lenz.” (Among the other highlights: The actress Isabelle Huppert takes the meaty spoken title role in Honegger’s oratorio “Jeanne d’Arc au Bûcher.”)

Of the six staged operas, two are revivals, and a third (“Barbiere”) will have premiered in June at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, which Bartoli directs. This is an unusually high percentage of rehashes for a festival that prides itself on its ambitious slate of new productions. But Hinterhäuser insisted that both the “Aida” and “Die Zauberflöte” would be substantially rethought versions of shows that were not wholly successful in their original incarnations.

“I’m convinced it is the right thing artistically, and from the economic side,” he said.

Among the Vienna Philharmonic’s concerts is an ambitious juxtaposition, led by Daniel Barenboim, of the second acts of Saint-Saëns’s “Samson et Dalila” and Wagner’s “Parsifal,” with Elina Garanca, Brandon Jovanovich and Michael Volle singing in both. Amid a broad re-evaluation of touring as the pandemic wears on, the only American ensemble scheduled to appear is the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under Manfred Honeck, on the final day of the festival, Aug. 31.

Related Articles

Back to top button