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SALZBURG FESTIVAL BLOG

Opera 2017

1 DEC 2016

by FESTSPIELKIEBITZ  12:01 h;
published in: Opera

Louise Bourgeois, FUGUE (detail), 2003, Suite of 19 screenprints and lithography on music paper, Each: 30.5 x 40.6 cm © The Easton Foundation/Bildrecht, Wien, 2016
The beginning of Markus Hinterhäuser’s new tenure as Artistic Director is marked in the 2017 opera programme by five new productions, three semi-staged performances and two operas performed in concert. Of course Ariodante, performed at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, will also be shown during the summer.

The Salzburg Festival opens with La clemenza di Tito, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera seria, directed by Peter Sellars. The American director, who made Festival history as early as 1998 with Olivier Messiaen’s opera Saint François d’Assise, sets out to answer the questions “How can we live together in times of conflict?” and “How can we offer a healing gesture in times full of anger?” in his production. Teodor Currentzis, voted Conductor of the Year in 2016 by cultural journalists, is the opera’s music director. In the main roles, Russell Thomas sings Tito Vespasiano, Golda Schultz embodies Vitellia, Christina Gansch is Servilia and Marianne Crebassa sings Sesto. Teodor Currentzis will open the Salzburg Festival at the Felsenreitschule with the orchestra musicAeterna and the musicAeterna Choir, which he founded in Russia.  

The opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which, as its composer Dmitri Shostakovich himself wrote, is the “tragic depiction of the fate of a talented, wise and outstanding woman who perishes under the horrible conditions of pre-revolutionary Russia,” will be the second opera premiere of the 2017 Salzburg Festival. For the first time, Mariss Jansons appears as an opera conductor at the Salzburg Festival, leading the Vienna Philharmonic and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus. Andreas Kriegenburg directs. The main roles feature Ferruccio Furlanetto as Boris Timofeyevich Izmailov, Maxim Paster as Zinoviy Borisovich Izmailov, Nina Stemme as Katerina Lvovna Izmailova and Maxim Aksenov as Sergei.

Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida is one of the most frequently performed operas worldwide; at the Salzburg Festival it will be given only its second production since Karajan’s staging in 1979/1980. Riccardo Muti, one of the outstanding Verdi connoisseurs of our times, conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus at the Großes Festspielhaus. The production is directed by one of the most important contemporary visual artists, the Iranian film-maker, photographer and video artist Shirin Neshat. It is her first opera production. Anna Netrebko makes her role debut as Aida, joined by Ekaterina Semenchuk as Amneris and Francesco Meli as Radamès. In the last two performances, Vittoria Yeo sings Aida and Yusif Eyvazov Radamès.

The premiere on August 6 will be followed by a Gala Soiree honouring the artists at Salzburg’s Residence. Its net proceeds will be donated to the Salzburg Festival’s youth programmes.

Georg Büchner’s drama fragment Woyzeck, the story of the simple soldier who is harassed by everyone until finally turning brutally violent, served Alban Berg as the subject of his opera Wozzeck. The Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus as well as the Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor. The South African universal artist William Kentridge will make one of his rare appearances as an opera director in Salzburg. Matthias Goerne sings Wozzeck, John Daszak the Drum Major and Asmik Grigorian Marie. The opera is accompanied by a William Kentridge exhibition first shown at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, on view at the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg from July 29, 2017 onwards.

Cecilia Bartoli appears at the Whitsun Festival in one of her beloved trouser roles, Ariodante. The summer features five further performances of George Frideric Handel’s opera Ariodante, in which the composer proves himself a virtuoso at depicting all the varieties of love, power and intrigue. Christof Loy directs the dramma per musica at the Haus für Mozart. Cecilia Bartoli is joined on stage by Kathryn Lewek in the role of Ginevra, Rolando Villazón as Lurcanio and Christophe Dumaux as Polinesso. Diego Fasolis conducts the orchestra Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco, founded by Cecilia Bartoli in 2016; the Salzburg Bach Choir performs. 

Aribert Reimann’s opera Lear, first performed in Munich in 1978, is based on Shakespeare’s play King Lear. The opera is one of the masterworks by the composer, who received the Ernst von Siemens Music Prize in 2011 – the Nobel Prize for musical creations, so to speak. It has long been considered one of the most important operas of the 20th century. Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus. Simon Stone will direct the production at the Felsenreitschule. In the main roles, Gerald Finley sings King Lear, Lauri Vasar the Earl of Gloucester, Evelyn Herlitzius Goneril, Gun-Brit Barkmin Regan and Anna Prohaska Cordelia.

The Salzburg Festival celebrates the 450th birthday of Claudio Monteverdi – the composer considered one of the inventors of the opera genre. Sir John Eliot Gardiner, one of the great baroque specialists of our times, joins director Elsa Rooke in bringing all three existing Monteverdi operas to the Felsenreitschule in semi-staged performances. He conducts his English Baroque Soloists and the Monteverdi Choir. Krystian Adam, Romina Basso, Hana Blažíková, Francesca Boncompagni and other singers also perform.

Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, first performed in 1607, has a special significance for Salzburg. Orfeo is the first opera to be performed north of the Alps: the performance took place in 1614 at the Carabinieri Hall at Salzburg’s Residence – not, as has sometimes been erroneously claimed, at the stone theatre in Hellbrunn. For Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria the composer used Homer’s Odyssey as his source. In his opera L’incoronazione di Poppea, first performed in 1643, Monteverdi was the first to choose a historical subject, namely the erotic obsession of Emperor Nero with the power-hungry Poppea.

The two operas performed in concert will be a true festival of singers.

The composer Giuseppe Verdi felt the subject of his opera I due foscari, written in 1844, to be “delicate and full of pathos”. At the 2017 Salzburg Festival, the work will be performed twice in concert. In the main role, Plácido Domingo interprets the role of Francesco Foscari, joined by Maria Agresta as Lucrezia Contarini, Joseph Calleja as Jacopo Foscari and others. Michele Mariotti conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg; the Philharmonia Chorus Vienna sings.

Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia will also have two concert performances at the 2017 Salzburg Festival. Ildar Abdrazakov sings the role of Don Alfonso, Krassimira Stoyanova sings Donna Lucrezia Borgia, Juan Diego Flórez sings Gennaro. Marco Armiliato conducts the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, accompanying the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus.

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