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Dear audience

9 NOV 2017

published in: General

Cy Twombly · Fifty Days at Iliam, Part V: The Fire That Consumes All Before It, 1978 · Philadelphia Museum of Art · Courtesy: Archives Nicola Del Roscio © Cy Twombly Foundation, 2017
A thousand thanks to you. As a result of your interest, involvement and enthusiasm, we were able to exceed our ambitious expectations and make the 2017 Salzburg Festival a true epicentre of the extraordinary. Nobody could have described your key role as audiences in the Festival’s success more aptly than founder Max Reinhardt: ‘If the perfect miracle of which theatre is capable on a felicitous evening is to occur, the best must be not only on stage, but also in the auditorium.’

Your positive response and audible, visible joy in the challenge make it our task to continue to explore the great issues of humanity in our 2018 programme. Taking as our point of departure Friedrich Schiller’s reflections ‘On the reasons for taking pleasure in tragic subjects’, we intend to investigate the significance of art, the force of poetry and the power of music.

Ever since the tragedies of antiquity, art has not merely explored the beautiful and the sublime: we are equally fascinated by the aestheticization of the unfathomable and the obsessive by means of artistic representation. Art knows no morals; it is capable of transforming the tragic into voluble poetry and stentorian frenzy. Tragedy in particular is a manifestation of man’s greatness — and the abyss into which he can fall. ‘Much is monstrous, but nothing more monstrous than man.’ (Sophocles, Antigone

The Salzburg Festival’s 2018 programme is characterized by works of passion and ecstasy.
This time, we will once again listen to and reflect upon these aspects in the Ouverture spirituelle series, which will begin with Krzysztof Penderecki’s seminal St Luke Passion — one of the most poignant portrayals of the sufferings of Christ.

In Monteverdi’s last opera, L’incoronazione di Poppea, the title character’s hunger for power, Nero’s obsession, violence and eroticism are skilfully interwoven. Hans Werner Henze drew the inspiration for his opera The Bassarids — a triumph of intoxication over reason — from Euripides’ Bacchae. And the passion of Salome, heroine of Richard Strauss’ eponymous opera, is enflamed by Jochanaan, who for his part is infused with ecstatic piety. Hermann, the young officer in Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades, is driven to distraction by the secret of three cards, and loses himself in a delirium of love and gambling.
In drama, the nameless hero in Knut Hamsun’s Hunger is driven by his obsessions, just like Dovaleh, the protagonist in David Grossman’s dramatized novel.
It is probably Heinrich von Kleist, in his tragedy Penthesilea, who most directly poses the question as to whether man is master of his senses. In The Persians, the most ancient tragedy to have come down to us, Aeschylus shows how presumption and hubris lead man to perdition.

Only at first glance does Die Zauberflöte seem alien in this context. However, Mozart’s opera functions as a kind of microscope in connection with all these pieces. Or is it perhaps a universal, bright, playful discourse on all these themes — as only Mozart, in the Age of Enlightenment, was able to achieve with his music?

We would like to arouse your curiosity and unleash your passions with this programme booklet — ensuring that 2018 will also see a very special Salzburg Festival.

Helga Rabl-Stadler 

Markus Hinterhäuser 

Lukas Crepaz

Translation: Toby Alleyne-Gee