27 Nov 2023

Salzburg Festival 2024 Programme Presentation

The Programme of the Salzburg Festival 2024

Esteemed Festival Visitors!

Movements between heaven and hell connect the works featured in the Salzburg Festival’s 2024 programme: conjuring up the innate beauty of the immeasurable and the ‘demonic’ abysses hidden within it, revealing infinite solitude and dizzying godless freedom.
Such are the lives lived by enduring archetypal figures whom we are both eager and reluctant to watch. The destructive narcissist Don Giovanni, the relentless avenger Vitellia, the deluded traitor Sesto, the commendably lenient Tito, the feverish gambler Alexey and the impassioned artist Hoffman are among the characters to be found in the Festival’s 2024 programme, along with a shady femme fragile, perpetrators of patricide and matricide, a mysterious Dostoyevskian idiot, a soulful singer, a wealthy grandmother, a ‘twisted, troubled man’, fickle dreamers, pining romantics and many more.
Each and every one of them is a nomad on the path between heaven and hell. Their stories speak of the soul’s deepest longings, the fragile nature of life, ruinous excess and greed, harrowing selfdestruction and hellish passions — while also offering a potentially hopeful vision of the future. The sombre creations and character studies you will see are based on works by writers whom Stefan Zweig called ‘transgressors of boundaries’ in literature. Their literary models extend from the earliest Greek tragedies to the figures of Don Quixote and Don Juan; from myths both ancient and modern through to the great novels of high modernism. We delve into the fanciful phantasms of E. T. A. Hoffmann and the high-charged prose of Dostoyevsky, whom Stefan Zweig esteemed for having ‘the magnifying power of a microscope and the clarifying insight of a seer’. The epic panorama spans even wider, thoroughly examining the human condition in crisis: from Thomas Mann’s saga about the decline of the bourgeoisie and Zweig’s ‘Stellar Moments of Humankind’ through to a biblical narrative by Botho Strauß. Composers as varied as Mozart, Offenbach, Prokofiev, Weinberg, Georg Friedrich Haas and Beat Furrer offer a musical lens on the conflict between the self and the world.

These artists are all great masters of storytelling. Through their compelling writing and powerful music, they hold up a mirror to our inner worlds, bring light into ominous depths, and capture the essence of universal human experiences. The works in this programme also place us at the threshold of a turning point, richly evoking both an old world in the process of dying and a new world not yet born. In so doing, they point to the temporal nature of our existence, stretched between the past, the present and the future; between memory, experience and expectation.
One such turning point occurred in 1940, when the great Jewish philosopher and writer Walter Benjamin wrote — amid the Nazi atrocities and the Hitler-Stalin Pact — of an ‘angel of history’ drifting towards the future while gazing back on a catastrophic pile-up of events: ‘But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.’
Our expectations are bound to such an unknowable future in the 2024 programme of the Ouverture spirituelle, which will be contemplated musically with a combination of fear and hope. Arnold Schoenberg believed that ‘only the new, the unsaid is worthwhile saying in art’, and we will mark the 150th anniversary of his birth — an anniversary shared with Hugo von Hofmannsthal, the creator of Jedermann — in this year’s programme.

We warmly invite you, our esteemed audience, to explore the rich tapestry of life and the ‘depths of the human heart’ by immersing yourselves in the great works of art being performed at the Salzburg Festival this summer. Join us in undertaking, as Stefan Zweig so eloquently phrased it, ‘wanderings over the icy ridges of the mind, descents into the hidden springs of the unconscious, ascents to the dizzy heights of self-knowledge’. For it is by following those who ‘overstep all boundaries’ that we humans are made more aware of ‘the mysteries of existence’.

Kristina Hammer · Markus Hinterhäuser · Lukas Crepaz
Board of Directors of the Salzburg Festival


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