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Opening and Review of Five Successful Years

10 JUN 2011

published in: Whitsun, General

Riccardo Muti, Markus Hinterhäuser, Helga Rabl-Stadler, Jürgen Flimm, (c) Silvia Lelli
Today, Friday, June 10, 2011, is the opening night premiere of the Whitsun Festival. Once again, the centerpiece of the Whitsun Festival consists of two productions conducted by Riccardo Muti: I due Figaro (1826), a melodramma buffo by Saverio Mercadante, and the Requiem in C-Minor (1816) by Luigi Cherubini. At the same time, this is the last stage of the musical journey of the Italian Maestro through the Neapolitan School. At a press conference, Riccardo Muti, Markus Hinterhäuser, Helga Rabl-Stadler and Jürgen Flimm summarized five successful years.

In Riccardo Muti, Jürgen Flimm and Markus Hinterhäuser found the ideal artist personality in 2007 to give the Salzburg Whitsun Festival a new and promising direction: the 18th century Neapolitan School and its composers were to be the focus – La Scuola Napoletana. A native of Naples, Muti is especially interested in supporting young singers and musicians. Thus, the youth orchestra he founded, the Orchestra Giovanile “Luigi Cherubini”, occupied a fixed and prominent place in the productions of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival for five years.
This cooperation between the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and Maestro Muti, which had originally been planned for three years, showed even during the first season that the common path taken was highly promising. Jürgen Flimm and Markus Hinterhäuser were able to convince Riccardo Muti to extend his contract for another two years, in order to continue the successful programmatic line of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

More than 7,000 visitors from over 30 nations attend the Whitsun Festival every year. Over 70 accredited journalists from Europe and the USA report regularly on the operas and concerts in Salzburg. The ORF broadcasts numerous concerts live on Ö1 and also records several productions.

Riccardo Muti, who studied at the Conservatorio San Pietro a Majella in Naples, has done pioneering work by discovering and disseminating pieces which had long been inaccessible to the public. This research – which is also esteemed by musicologists – enables ensembles and musicians around the world to study and perform the works presented in Salzburg. In this context, Ut Orpheus Edizioni (Bologna) plays an important role by republishing the lost works.
“The Conservatory in Naples is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world,” Muti recounts. “The first director at the convent of San Pietro a Majella was Giovanni Paisiello. He joined together four colleges of great importance for Europe in one institute in Naples. These four colleges had fantastic teachers, students, singers – Farinelli, for example – as well as major composers such as Porpora, Jommelli, Leo, Piccinni, Traetta, Scarlatti and Pergolesi. The Neapolitan School was a source for Europe.” 

From 2007 to 2011, the Salzburg Whitsun Festival offered opportunities to hear many works by these composers, so far underrepresented on European stages: thus, the 2008 presentation of Il matrimonio inaspettato, a dramma giocoso by Giovanni Paisiello, and Johann Adolph Hasse’s oratorio I pellegrini al sepolcro di Nostro Signore were followed a year later by his Missa defunctorum as well as Niccolò Jommelli’s Demofoonte, a dramma per musica. The highlight of the year 2010 was the interpretation of two settings of Pietro Metastasio’s libretto Betulia liberata by W. A. Mozart and Niccolò Jommelli.
The Ravenna Festival has been a cooperation partner of the Whitsun Festival since 2007. Further international co-productions: Domenico Cimarosa’s opera buffa Il ritorno di Don Calandrino was invited to the Theater in Las Palmas. Demofoonte, the opera seria by Niccolò Jommelli, was a co-production with the Opéra National de Paris. This year’s production of I due Figaro by Saverio Mercadante will also be performed at the Teatro Real in Madrid.

The Salzburg Whitsun Festival is sponsored exclusively by the watch-making company A. Lange & Söhne, which celebrated is 165-year anniversary in 2010. Our special thanks go to A. Lange & Söhne for their social engagement in donating opera and concert tickets to the initiative “Hunger for Arts and Culture”, enabling people living below the poverty line to attend this cultural event.