Bucking Cancellations, Salzburg Festival Has Plans for August

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Bucking Cancellations, Salzburg Festival Has Plans for August

Post by lennygoran » Tue Jun 09, 2020 8:56 am

Bucking Cancellations, Salzburg Festival Has Plans for August

By Zachary Woolfe

June 9, 2020, 7:00 a.m. ET

The cancellations have come in a flood, demolishing much of the global performing arts calendar through the summer, and even into the fall. But while the coronavirus pandemic has claimed huge swaths of culture, the mighty Salzburg Festival announced on Tuesday that it would go forward in August.

In modified form, that is. The festival, classical music and opera’s starriest and most important annual event, will compress what was to have been an expansive celebration of its centennial. The original plan — more than 200 performances over 44 days — will become 90 performances over 30 days. Seven opera productions are being reduced to two.

“The world usually looks to us for artistic reasons,” Helga Rabl-Stadler, the festival’s president, said in an interview. “This time, we also have to prove that we are the best at dealing with this health situation.”

For several months, Salzburg resisted cancellation, even as other summer events threw in the towel. And with the spread of the virus seemingly under control in Austria, the federal government last month laid out a plan that, starting in August, would allow for audiences of up to 1,000. The festival decided that number, about half the capacity of its main theater, made its operations viable, though Ms. Rabl-Stadler estimated a loss of at least 15 million euros (about $17 million) in ticket revenue.

Audience members, who will sit in a staggered, chessboard-like formation, will be asked to wear masks as they enter and leave the theater, but can remove them during performances. Intermissions, with their mingling crowds, will be eliminated. Tickets will be nontransferable, with a contact tracing system in place in case cases are later discovered. Artists and those working backstage will be tested for the virus before their arrival and at regular intervals during the festival. (Ms. Rabl-Stadler said that details of the testing regimen were still being worked out.)

The Vienna Philharmonic, long the festival’s house band, has already recommenced performances in Vienna. The orchestra will appear in four concerts in Salzburg, as well as in the pit for productions of Strauss’s “Elektra” and Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte.” It’s an appropriate pair: Mozart, Salzburg’s favorite son, and Strauss, one of the festival’s founders, have long been fixtures of the programming. (While “Elektra” unfolds in a single 100-minute act, it remains to be seen how audiences will respond to an intermissionless “Così,” which has about three hours of music.)

The “Elektra,” directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski and conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, was part of the original schedule. But the “Così,” directed by Christof Loy and conducted by Joana Mallwitz, is a last-minute interpolation — planned with almost unheard-of speed for an opera production on this level.

“It will have an extremely modest set and costumes, with greatly reduced rehearsal time,” said Markus Hinterhäuser, the festival’s artistic director. “To show that we can have a Mozart opera without a sophisticated apparatus. It’s about the pure joy of doing a Mozart opera with a young cast.”

Mr. Hinterhäuser added that most of the canceled performances would be merely postponed until next summer. Some singers who were supposed to star in full opera productions, like Anna Netrebko and Cecilia Bartoli, will appear in concert instead. There will be still be an enviable array of recitalists — including, as planned, a complete cycle of Beethoven’s piano sonatas from Igor Levit, who has been omnipresent through the lockdown over livestream. The capacity of the 1,500-seat Haus für Mozart, where smaller concerts will take place, will be capped at 800.

Orchestras from countries still struggling with the pandemic have dropped out — including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and, from Russia, recent Salzburg favorite Teodor Currentzis and his ensemble, MusicAeterna. But the Berlin Philharmonic, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien will still appear as guests.

When the festival was first held, in the summer of 1920, it consisted of just half a dozen performances of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s morality play “Jedermann” (“Everyman”). The piece has become a perennial event, and will be presented 14 times this summer in the plaza of Salzburg’s cathedral, including on the 100th anniversary of its premiere, Aug. 22.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/arts ... virus.html

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Re: Bucking Cancellations, Salzburg Festival Has Plans for August

Post by Rach3 » Tue Jun 09, 2020 7:28 pm

I wish them, and more importantly the audience,well, but I fear reckless wishful thinking.

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