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Grand Theatrical Magic – The Program of the 2012 Salzburg Festival

11 NOV 2011

published in: Opera, Drama, Concert, General

Alexander Pereira, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, Photo: Wild & Team
Today, Alexander Pereira and Sven-Eric Bechtolf presented the eagerly anticipated program of the next Salzburg Festival. They have grand goals: the 2012 Festival will begin as early as July 20 and last until September 2. For the beginning, Pereira has been inspired by the city of Salzburg and its innumerable sacred buildings: the concert series Ouverture spirituelle presents sacred music, as “the greatest masterworks were written for the church,” as Pereira claims. The series will be continued during the coming years and is to focus on the dialogue between the Christian faith and another world religion – in 2012 this will be the Jewish faith (Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic are among the guests). More details here…

The Festival has a special obligation to the œuvre of Mozart. Thus, it is particularly fortunate that Nikolaus Harnoncourt will return to Salzburg as an opera conductor. Even as a trailblazer for historic performance practice, it is a premiere for him to conduct a grand Mozart opera, i.e. Die Zauberflöte, on historic instruments. He is accompanied in this adventure by his Concentus Musicus Wien and stage director Jens-Daniel Herzog.
Another prejudice has been swept away by Alexander Pereira right at the start of his tenure as Artistic Director: Puccini can and should be performed in Salzburg. With an exquisite cast surrounding Anna Netrebko, Piotr Beczala and the stage director Damiano Michieletto, who is only 31 years old, Puccini’s La bohème will see its brilliant first performance at the Salzburg Festival.
In general, all the operas presented should be new productions, in order to ensure the uniqueness of the Festival.
The detailed opera program – which also features Schikaneder’s sequel of Mozart’s Magic Flute, entitled The Labyrinth, the original version of Hofmannsthal/Strauss’ Ariadne in a version by Sven-Eric Bechtolf, as well as the Salzburg premiere of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s “opera of the century” Die Soldaten, and even offers premieres towards the end of the Festival: a return of Cecilia Bartoli in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, the Whitsun Festival’s opera of the year – and many more facts on the voluminous opera agenda, in which the Vienna Philharmonic plays a central role, can be found here.

The concert program also boasts grand names: from the London Symphony Orchestra to the reencounter with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, from Claudio Abbado to Franz Welser-Möst, from Elīna Garanča to Juan Diego Flórez, from Murray Perahia to Krystian Zimerman and innumerable further stars: we look forward to welcoming all of them next summer.

Pereira’s great goal is to “continue the extraordinary line of our predecessors with regard to championing contemporary music. This year, the composers in focus are Bernd Alois Zimmermann – with the performance of his opera Die Soldaten and the concerts surrounding this opera –, Heinz Holliger, who has written two commissioned works for this Festival summer, as well as Witold Lutosławski, whose works will be presented by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra, among others.” Apart from the series Salzburg contemporary and the Ouverture spirituelle, there is also a cycle of Slavic music, entitled Over the Border and presenting mainly chamber music by Antonín Dvořák, Josef Suk, Bohuslav Martinů, Leoš Janáček and Bedřich Smetana. However, the centerpiece of the concert program is, as always, the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Valery Gergiev, Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Heinz Holliger and Bernard Haitink. All details can be found here…

Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s leading concept for the Salzburg Festival’s drama program refers strongly to Festival founder Max Reinhardt and is based on the maxim of the “polyphony of theater”. “We believe that festivals should be a celebration. Not of themselves, but of the theater. The festive analysis of the matter is in itself its task. This is what makes its concern different from the justified interests of other events. Festivals are the Sundays of the theatre if their program is exemplary,” the new Director of Drama says.
German classics in casts worthy of the Festival, including, for example, Peter Simonischek, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Andrea Clausen and August Diehl in Andrea Breth’s interpretation of Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, are equally represented here as is an annual world premiere – in 2012, a play commissioned from Händl Klaus and Franui entitled Meine Bienen. Eine Schneise. The Festival will also commission an Austrian writer to create a work during the coming years, “due to our responsibility as one of the most representative cultural institutions in Austria”.
In addition, there will be one children’s play and one work of puppet theater every year, and in order to live up to Salzburg’s claim to being an international Festival, the involvement of internationally successful productions and artists is a special focus. During the 2012 season, Irina Brook, daughter of the theatrical legend Peter Brook, comes to Salzburg, where she presents a version of Peer Gynt created especially for Salzburg as well as her interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Not least, the successful YDP should be mentioned, which will be continued in its tried-and-true state and will focus even more on the support of young talents.
Please click here for more details on the drama program.

There is another aspect which will receive special attention in 2012 – the younger audiences; there will be a special children’s program which offers kids’ own versions of classics (Die Zauberflöte für Kinder), theater to actively participate in, an invitation to a first encounter with the genre of opera, and many other highlights. Click here for the children’s program.

232 performances on 45 days at 15 different venues: if a Festival is an invitation to celebrate, then come and celebrate with us – and join us on a fascinating journey!