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This has been the Salzburg Whitsun Festival 2018

22 MAY 2018

published in: Whitsun, General

Supervisory Board of the Salzburg Festival with Cecilia Bartoli © SF/Neumayr
“Cecilia Bartoli is the heart and soul, but also a genius of an Artistic Director of the Whitsun Festival. The variety and admirable quality of her programming has made the Whitsun Festival an equal partner of the summer Festival. We, the Festival Directorate, are infinitely grateful to her for this. If the frenetic applause is anything to go by, the audience has long joined us in this gratitude,” Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler raves.

It was the seventh Whitsun Festival under the artistic direction of Cecilia Bartoli. Seven events between 18 and 21 May 2018 took place under the motto “1868 – Year of Ruptures”.

“One of the goals of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival is to open up new visions of our musical heritage by adopting unusual perspectives. I was pleasantly surprised at the fact how natural the path is from Rossini to Brahms, Wagner, even Tchaikovsky. To me personally, this overview also meant reviewing my own career. It began 30 years ago with Rossini and has always taken me back to him, despite detours into far-flung repertoire, all of which enabled me to experience and present him in totally new ways. That is why I was particularly happy that so many of my favourite artistic companions have accompanied me in the 2018 Whitsun Festival – in addition to the Directorate which inspires and supports me, President Helga Rabl-Stadler, Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser and Executive Director Lukas Crepaz. Many of these artists have been my mentors and partners for years; more recent, innovative projects have brought me together with others. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart, and of course our faithful audience which follows us year after year with great enthusiasm, and which I look forward to welcoming back next year,” says Cecilia Bartoli, Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

Almost 12,400 visitors from 52 nations attended the 2018 Whitsun Festival in Salzburg. After Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, France, Great Britain, the USA, Spain, Russia and Italy, Argentina is the first Latin American nation to make it into the top 10. Under the artistic direction of Cecilia Bartoli, a strong core of regular visitors has also begun to attend the Whitsun Festival. 40 percent of these visitors have attended Salzburg at Whitsun at least three times since 2012. The overall rate of seats sold was 97 percent.

The press office accredited 84 journalists from 12 countries all over the world for this year’s Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

Cecilia Bartoli had chosen the motto “1868 – Year of Ruptures” for the 2018 Whitsun Festival. On the one hand, in homage to Gioachino Rossini, who died that year. On the other hand, to show the great range of works which were composed or premiered that year, encompassing everything from Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem to La Périchole, Jacques Offenbach’s opéra bouffe.

Frenetic applause and standing ovations greeted Rossini’s comic opera L’italiana in Algeri, which opened this year’s Whitsun Festival. The directors’ team of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier toyed with gender and cultural clichés, reaping laughter and thunderous applause from the audience. Conductor Jean-Christophe Spinosi led his Ensemble Matheus, taking noticeable joy in Rossini’s musical palette of colours. Lavish stage sets by Christian Fenouillat – including an entire housing block in Algiers with satellite dishes adorning every apartment, stuffed camels, a bathtub for bubble baths and a huge ship – glided across the stage during the course of the evening. The highly engaged ensemble displayed a colourful range of costumes by Agostino Cavalca, ranging from caftans to track suits and ribbed underwear. The inspiring cast of singers included Peter Kálmán as Mustafà, Edgardo Rocha as Lindoro, Alessandro Corbelli as Taddeo, José Coca Loza in the role of Haly, Rebeca Olvera as Elvira and Rosa Bove as Zulma. The soloists returned to the stage six times for bows to unending applause. When Cecilia Bartoli, the Whitsun Festival’s Artistic Director, finally walked on stage, having given her role debut as Isabella, nothing kept the audience in its seats. The lengthy standing ovations were repeated after the second performance on Sunday evening.

On Whitsun Saturday, the applause following the Sacred Matinee was equally generous. Anton Bruckner’s motet Pange lingua, written in 1868, and Johannes Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem of 1869 were conducted by Jérémie Rhorer. The Requiem was rendered in Brahms’ own, more intimate version for soloists, choir and four-hand piano. Genia Kühmeier and Andrè Schuen and the Bavarian Radio Chorus offered the audience intense moments. Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser took on the piano part, at Cecilia Bartoli’s special request. After several minutes of applause, this concert too ended with standing ovations.

Jacques Offenbach’s La Périchole had been scheduled for Saturday evening as a concert performance. To the audience’s delight, the ensemble of singers led by the three protagonists – an outstanding Benjamin Bernheim as Piquillo, Aude Extrémo as La Périchole and Alexandre Duhamel as Vice King of Peru – turned the evening into a semi-staged production. Marc Minkowski and his Les Musiciens du Louvre proved themselves ideal interpreters of Offenbach, the composer who went down in music history as the “Mozart of the Champs-Élysées”. The final applause was enormous.

On Whitsun Sunday, the audience rewarded the Staatskapelle Berlin under Daniel Barenboim with soloist András Schiff with several minutes of applause as well. The Orchestra Concert featured Rossini’s overture to Semiramide, Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor. As an encore and in special reverence to Cecilia Bartoli, Daniel Barenboim led Gioachino Rossini’s overture to La Cenerentola.

Javier Camarena’s Aria Recital on Sunday afternoon featured several special moments. In homage to the Spanish tenor Manuel García, he sang arias from Ricciardo e Zoraide, Il barbiere di Siviglia and El poeta calculista. Gianluca Capuano conducted Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco. Cecilia Bartoli had devised a special surprise. Although she was due to return to the stage as Isabella two hours later, she demonstrated the high esteem in which she holds Javier Camarena by joining him in the duet “Tutto è deserto… Un soave non so che…” from La Cenerentola, appearing for this encore in her Cenerentola costume of 2014.

Maxim Vengerov and the Camerata Salzburg enchanted the audience at the Soloists’ Concert on Whitsun Monday. As the crowning finale of the 2018 Whitsun Festival, tonight Cecilia Bartoli and Jonas Kaufmann will perform a Gala Concert. Together with Daniel Barenboim leading the Staatskapelle, they offer music by Rossini and Wagner.

Since 2012 Rolex has supported the Salzburg Festival as a Main Sponsor and the Salzburg Whitsun Festival under the directorship of Cecilia Bartoli. Without Rolex, the Salzburg Whitsun Festival could not feature a staged production. The successful cooperation has been extended until 2021.  


The Summer Festival will see the revival of L’italiana in Algeri: the premiere takes place on 8 August 2018; further performances are scheduled for 11, 14, 16 and 19 August 2018 at the Haus für Mozart. The appeal of Bartoli’s name is demonstrated by the fact that all performances are already sold out.