14 Dec 2022

Salzburg Whitsun Festival 26. – 29. May 2023

„Les Passions de l’âme“

“Culture is essential to our lives because it determines how we live together. Passed down from generation to generation through rituals, customs, beliefs and learning, and more specifically through religion and art, it is the superglue that sticks together society. In all of this, myths are instrumental. They form the basis of traditions which define the identities of groups of people and of nations, and consequently their views, their behaviour and ways of living — all of which of course is part of their culture! “

Over the years at the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, we have explored many individuals, phenomena and places that have attained mythic status. Together, we have looked more closely at amazing people from the past who still concern us in many ways today, such as the mighty yet love-stricken queen Cleopatra, or the incredibly intelligent composer, theatre manager and facilitator of careers Gioachino Rossini, who communicated with leading European artists, thinkers and politicians of his time. We have imagined visits to Scotland, Rome and Seville – evocative places where different cultures converge. And, of course, we have retraced some of our most powerful myths in the histories of literature and music. Some of these explorations have concerned the dazzling quasi-mythic phenomenon of the castrati, who (among others) made us consider questions of gender long before today’s heated discussions. 

As a musician and singer, I firmly believe in the power of music and the human voice. Therefore, the Orpheus myth is naturally one of the ancient stories that fascinates me most. It heartens me when I read about the wondrous effect of Orpheus’ music: how it could pacify the most threatening enemies – even death – and how it could change lives in a way that would have been unthinkable if he had not desperately dared to challenge the world’s eternal laws. What Orpheus did suggests that we are equipped with heavenly powers that allow us to surpass our limitations as ordinary human beings. This is something we artists often feel when we go on stage to impart some particularly compelling music to you, dear audience. In this, we become a catalyst for something far greater than ourselves.  

Cecilia Bartoli

The festival programme for the Whitsun Festival 2023 is now available online.

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