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Review of The Opera and Concert Programme 2014

1 SEP 2014

published in: Opera, Concert, General

Don Giovanni, Photo: Michael Poehn
The 94th edition of the Salzburg Festival began with a highly atmospheric, sold-out Ouverture spirituelle. The overwhelming rendition of the Vespro della Beata Vergine by John Eliot Gardiner at the Cathedral and the concert featuring Mozart’s final symphonies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt were early highlights of an immensely successful Festival season which attracted more than 270,000 guests. 

The series of this year’s new opera productions opened with Don Giovanni, which turned out to be a veritable audience magnet.

This was followed by the internationally highly acclaimed world premiere of Charlotte Salomon, conducted by its composer, Marc-André Dalbavie. The artists sharing the title role, Marianne Crebassa (mezzo-soprano) and Johanna Wokalek (narrator), gave a touching rendition of the story of this forgotten painter.

Der Rosenkavalier, which the Vienna Philharmonic under Franz Welser-Möst performed for the first time in an uncut version staged by Harry Kupfer, is certainly one of the outstanding contributions to the Strauss anniversary year. The role debuts of Krassimira Stoyanova as Marschallin and Günther Groissböck as an unusually young Ochs were widely celebrated.

The most spectacular opera premiere of the summer was surely Il trovatore, featuring Anna Netrebko, Plácido Domingo, Francesco Meli and Marie-Nicole Lemieux in the main roles. The high-carat cast of singers, directed by Alvis Hermanis and conducted by Daniele Gatti, surpassed even the high expectations associated with this production. 

The rarely-performed Schubert opera Fierrabras turned into a special discovery, due to Peter Stein’s production and Ingo Metzmacher’s conducting. Michael Schade, Julia Kleiter, Benjamin Bernheim, Markus Werba and Georg Zeppenfeld introduced the audience to the special charm of this Schubert jewel.

Elīna Garanča, Juan Diego Flórez and Ludovic Tézier were celebrated enthusiastically by the Salzburg audience for their concert rendition of Gaetano Donizetti’s opera La Favorite. The Tristan und Isolde Project assembled a Who-is-Who of Wagner singers, including Waltraud Meier, Ekaterina Gubanova, Peter Seiffert and René Pape under the baton of Daniel Barenboim, leading his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra.

Commemorating the 150th birthday of Festival founder Richard Strauss, his works formed the centrepiece of selected song recitals, chamber and orchestral concerts. Further concert highlights were the complete cycle of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas with Rudolf Buchbinder and the performance of all of Anton Bruckner’s Symphonies, interpreted by nine outstanding conductor personalities of our times.

The series Salzburg contemporary focused on Wolfgang Rihm, Marc-André Dalbavie and, in combination with the Ouverture spirituelle, on new music from the Islamic world.