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1999 was not yet over when the Supervisory Board appointed the composer and cultural manager Peter Ruzicka as Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival with effect from 1 October 2001. At his suggestion, Jürgen Flimm was appointed head of straight drama; however, he resigned in spring 2003, and in 2005 and 2006 Martin Kušej took over the agenda for productions in drama. Jürgen Flimm in turn followed Peter Ruzicka as Artistic Director in autumn 2006.

Nevertheless, it was Gerard Mortier who still dominated the Festival for two seasons. In early 2000, coalition negotiations foundered between the SPÖ (Social Democratic Party of Austria) and the ÖVP (Austrian People’s Party), paving the way for the FPÖ’s (Freedom Party of Austria) participation in the government. Gerard Mortier requested an early termination of his contract, but then decided ‘in solidarity, to support resistance against the FPÖ with all the artistic means at his disposal’; this was in a climate of Austria’s international isolation. Gerard Mortier bade farewell to Salzburg in 2001 with Hans Neuenfels’s radical and scandal-ridden adaptation of Die Fledermaus/The Bat. Likewise in 2001, the course was set to remodel the Small ­Festival Hall into a House for Mozart, which was opened in 2006.

The beginning of Peter Ruzicka’s period as Artistic Director was overshadowed by the following events: on 11 September 2001, terrorists steered two aircraft into the Twin Towers of the New York World Trade Center. This attack by Al-Qaeda was to change the world permanently.

During his directorship, Peter Ruzicka gave much thought to the redefinition of the ‘Salzburg Dramaturgy’. He saw the Salzburg Festival as a ‘European memory’ ‘that is mindful of the changed perspectives at the start of the 21st century’. He wished to counter the ‘“deconstructive” scenic perspectives’ of the 1990s with ‘stories about human beings’ told with the ‘imaginative means available to the theatre’. After quite a few years in which Mozart’s operas had not been in central focus, the time was ripe for Mozart 22, the theatrical performance of all operas of the genius loci in the Mozart Year 2006. It turned out to be a summer that broke all records. The Salzburg Festival was supported here by Uniqa and Credit Suisse, main sponsors as of 2002 and 2006.

Artistic Director Jürgen Flimm endeavoured to interrelate the sectors and various artistic genres more intensively, basing his seasonal planning motto on metaphysical questions. This was a reflection of the hope of setting accents through art in times of devaluation – a financial crisis shook the global economy from 2007 on: with new formats, through youth projects, or the involvement of young styles in stage direction, as had been successful already in 2002 and later with the establishment of the Young Directors Project sponsored by Montblanc. Supporting the Artistic Director here were the head of concerts Markus Hinterhäuser and Thomas Oberender, the new director of drama – also, and as ever, President Helga Rabl-Stadler and the Commercial Director Gerbert Schwaighofer. Flimm made a resounding start in his role as Artistic Director in 2007 by winning Riccardo Muti as spiritus rector of the Whitsun Festival.