In 2014, the board of curators appointed Markus Hinterhäuser as the new artistic director from autumn 2016, bringing Bettina Hering to Salzburg as head of drama and appointing Florian Wiegand as concert director. The board of directors was again increased to three members by the appointment of Lukas Crepaz as commercial director.
The 95th edition of the Salzburg Festival began with Haydn’s Creation – performed this year by Marc Minkowski and his Musiciens du Louvre – as part of the Ouverture spirituelle. This year, a fourth world religion, Hinduism, was the focus of the concert series. In dialogue with Western sacred music, the Kollegienkirche witnessed theatre, music and dance performances from various regions of India.
The 94th edition of the Salzburg Festival in 2014 was dedicated to the commemoration of the outbreak of World War I in 1914. After all, the founding of the Salzburg Festival with its chosen goal of (re-)connecting peoples was also a reaction to this “fundamental catastrophe” of the 20th century.
With El Sistema during the summer of 2013, Artistic Director Alexander Pereira brought a project to Salzburg which is unique throughout the world in its social and artistic success. Similar to the Festival’s founder Max Reinhardt, whose intention was to create a festival “not as a luxury for the rich and sated, but as food for the needy”, one conviction stood at the beginning of the project of José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema and speaker of the Festival’s 2013 keynote address: “Physical poverty is vanquished by the spiritual richness of music.” The movement which began in 1975 has enabled more than two million children in Venezuela so far to learn an instrument and play in the country’s ensembles and orchestras, giving them new perspectives on life. 1,400 children and teenagers travelled to Salzburg to make music in 14 concerts with conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel – presumably the most famous student of El Sistema – and Sir Simon Rattle.
That is what Alexander Pereira said at the press conference for his first programme, encompassing the 2012 season. Even before he started in Salzburg, the new Artistic Director was able to claim success: the artistic reorientation of the Whitsun Festival under its Director Cecilia Bartoli, whom Pereira had appointed, was applauded widely by audience and press. Furthermore, the company Rolex became a new sponsor of the Whitsun and the Summer Festivals.
The grand Mozart finale with which Peter Ruzicka concluded his successful years as Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival was over. The new artistic leading team of the festival, Artistic Director Jürgen Flimm, Markus Hinterhäuser, responsible for the concert programme, and Thomas Oberender, Head of Drama, took up office in October 2006. The posts of Festival President, Helga Rabl-Stadler, and Business Director, Gerbert Schwaighofer, remained unchanged.
A quote, by the Italian composer Luigi Nono, chosen by Markus Hinterhäuser, appointed interim Artistic Director for 2011, as the motto for his programme. A relief by the artist Stephan Balkenhol became the 2011 Salzburg Festival’s image: a woman with a mysterious gaze, apparently listening attentively despite her missing ears. During the summer, the Festival exhibit showcased not only Stephan Balkenhol’s monumental sculpture sempre più, but also a series of new works created for this purpose by the artist, referring to the 2011 Salzburg Festival programme. The women and men whose figures and reliefs the Festival visitors encountered were reminiscent of characters from the 2011 Festival’s summer productions, yet they remained anonymous, even mysterious.
That is the motto, the 2010 season bears. “This time we are rather like archaeologists opening up a door and going down to explore and remind ourselves about the interrelated origins and contradictions of our history and of our civilisation. We want to try and find traces of what we still are nowadays and follow up memories. We also want to show how the ancient themes of tragedy are timeless and still relevant,” Artistic Director Jürgen Flimm sums up.
Was the theme of the Salzburg Festival programme in 2009. Many operas, plays and concerts dealt with this theme. Handel, Rossini, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn dominated the opera season – as well as Luigi Nono, whose outstanding work Al gran sole carico d’amore was presented at the Felsenreitschule and was a standard-setting success with audience and press, just like the opening production of Handel’s Theodora. Claus Guth completed his Mozart-Da Ponte cycle with a new production of Così fan tutte in 2009, following the celebrated production of Le nozze di Figaro in 2006 and his much discussed reading of Don Giovanni in 2008.
Peter Ruzicka based his dramatic concept for the programme of the Salzburg Festival on five pillars. He paid tribute to Salzburg’s most important son with exemplary new productions and the first complete performance cycle of Mozart’s 22 operas; works by Richard Strauss were performed in honour of one of the Salzburg Festival’s founding fathers.
To commemorate Mozart’s 250th birthday Peter Ruzicka put all 22 operas by Mozart on the programme of the Salzburg Festival and thus made his last season as artistic director a record summer. Never before had there been so many productions and performances in a festival season, never before did so many visitors come to Salzburg, and revenue was the highest achieved in the festival’s history.
The new production of Verdi’s La Traviata was a sensational success; the new “dream couple” Anna Netrebko and Rolando Villazón were triumphantly acclaimed and Willy Decker’s intelligent production received euphoric approval. Kent Nagano and Nikolaus Lehnhoff’s interpretation of Die Gezeichneten by Schreker was also highly praised as well as Marc Minkowski and Günter Krämer’s production of Mozart’s Mitridate, re di Ponto.
Before the opening of the festival season, artistic director Peter Ruzicka announced that he would not be available to extend his contract beyond 2006. Jürgen Flimm, who directed the opening production in 2004 of Purcell’s King Arthur, was designated artistic director from 2006. The most successful production of the season was Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Die tote Stadt; in particular stage director Willy Decker and soprano Angela Denoke were highly acclaimed.
Gerard Mortier made it his task to overcome the stagnation that had become evident especially in the last years of the Karajan era. “The New Salzburg” that he proclaimed followed a policy of opening up the festival to a broader and modern repertoire, to unfamiliar, occasionally also provocative views as regards aesthetics, to different and a younger generation of audiences.
Hans Neuenfels’s radical production and re-writing of Die Fledermaus, with which Gerard Mortier bids his farewell to Salzburg, creates one last “scandal”, provoking passionate controversy. And the drama department breaks taboos as well by hiring the director Calixto Bieto, who stages Shakespeare’s Macbeth as a “wild party with escalations into murder” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), including necrophilia.
The year begins with turbulence: after the change of government in Austria and the participation of the FPÖ in the coalition in Vienna, Gerard Mortier announces his premature departure, only to take it back four weeks later. The politicians cut the Festival’s budget by 2% and charge Mortier with leaving a balanced budget for the new Artistic Director Ruzicka.
An era draws to its close: in March, Gerard Mortier announces that he has no intention of extending his contract beyond 2001. A search committee is established in order to find a successor in time. Mortier, however, still has three seasons to shape. The summer of 1999 opens with the world premiere of Luciano Berio’s Cronaca del luogo, with which director Claus Guth makes his sensational Salzburg debut.
Herbert von Karajan opened the newly built Grosses Festspielhaus on 26 July 1960 with a performance of Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and inaugurated a new era: from then onwards a huge auditorium was able to seat a capacity audience of over 2,200 visitors. Excellent sight lines were guaranteed from all seats, the proscenium measuring 32 metres and the total width of the stage measuring over 100 metres was at the time the largest in the world.
As early as the spring, the public debate began: what will happen to the Salzburg Festival after Herbert von Karajan? A commission is established to find a successor. The person whose heritage is being decided upon does not live to see the results: on the afternoon of July 16, Herbert von Karajan dies at the age of 81 in his house in Anif; only the day before, he attended a rehearsal for Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera, which was to open the season.
The program features three new productions: Mozart’s Titus with Riccardo Muti, Rossini’s Cenerentola with Riccardo Chailly and Elias Canetti’s Hochzeit [Wedding] directed by Axel Corti. The concert program is dominated by two cycles of works: the Alban Berg Quartet plays Beethoven’s complete string quartets, and Alfred Brendel, a regular guest in Salzburg since 1960, presents Franz Schubert’s oeuvre for piano in four recitals.
A conflict about the freedom of art shakes up the Festival: George Tabori’s production of Franz Schmidt’s Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln [The Book of Seven Seals], which was to continue the tradition of oratorio performances at Kollegienkirche, is banned after its premiere. The clergy considers the drastic images created by the director to be incompatible with the consecrated church space, since the actions on stage violated religious dignity.
It was nothing short of a miracle: only three months after the end of the war, when Salzburg was crowded with refugees and soldiers, when the wounds caused by the bombing raids were still open, and when many products were only available on the black market, the festival took place again in the summer of 1945, with the support of the American occupying forces. In the following year the process of normalisation and consolidation really began: members of the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera and the Vienna Philharmonic were available again.
For many visitors the Salzburg premiere of Richard Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau was the high point of the Summer Festival, not least of all because of the front-rank cast of Hans Hotter, Hermann Prey, Fritz Wunderlich and Hilde Güden.
In a summit meeting of two grandees, Gustaf Gründgens staged and Herbert von Karajan conducted Verdi’s Don Carlo in the Felsenreitschule. Lisa Della Casa and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau were the celebrated stars of a new Arabella staged by Rudolf Hartmann and conducted by Joseph Keilberth.
The era of Herbert von Karajan opened with a twin fanfare as he conducted and produced Beethoven’s Fidelio and Verdi’s Falstaff, the latter with an unforgettable cast consisting of Tito Gobbi, Rolando Panerai, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Giulietta Simionato, Luigi Alva and Anna Moffo.
On 12 March 1938 German troops marched into Salzburg. The Anschluss – the annexation of Austria by Germany – was now complete, and Nazi ideology immediately began to affect the Festival. Many artists who had left a deep imprint in previous years – we need only think of Max Reinhardt, Bruno Walter and Arturo Toscanini – were no longer welcome.
On 29 July, a week before the “Summer of Theatre and Music” was to begin, an order arrived from Propaganda Minister Goebbels cancelling every festival in the Reich. Clemens Krauss exploited his close ties to the Berlin regime in order to salvage at least the dress rehearsal for the scheduled world première of Richard Strauss’s Die Liebe der Danae.
According to Hitler’s decree of 8 March 1943, the scheduled events were no longer allowed to take place under the name of “festival".
The organizational structure envisaged for the Festival by its founders was thrown overboard with the dissolution of the Salzburg Festspielhaus Association on 1 April.
Toward the end of the First World War the idea arose of establishing a festival in Salzburg, a princely baroque town far removed from the everyday bustle of the big cities. Director Max Reinhardt, whose had begun his career as an actor at Salzburg Stadttheater, submitted a memorandum to this effect in Vienna in 1917. The poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal in turn published an outline of the festival’s philosophy in 1919.
Clemens Holzmeister began work on enlarging the Festival Theatre. The main novelty was the 180 degrees rotation of the stage and auditorium. The stage area was thus shifted to the side of St Peter’s Abbey while the auditorium points in the direction of the Faistauer Foyer.
In March, at the suggestion of provincial governor Franz Rehrl, the Salzburg Parliament passed the "Law for the Protection of the Salzburg Festival". As a result, outside events scheduled at the same time as the Festival now required special permission from the provincial government. This regulation remained in effect until 1970.
Alfred Roller, whose stage designs set the tone for the Festival’s aesthetics from its inception, died on 21 June. His sets, however, remained in use as late as 1953.