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Leadership debates overshadowed artistic accomplishments until the mid-2010s. Moreover, the former technical director of the Salzburg Festival was discovered as being involved in a financial scandal connected to the organizationally autonomous Easter Festival. Artistic Director Jürgen Flimm had asked to terminate his contract early at the end of 2008 in order to take over the Berlin Staatsoper Unter den Linden; accordingly, in May 2009, the Supervisory Board appointed the head of Zurich Opera, Alexander Pereira, from autumn 2011 onwards as the new Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival who engaged Sven-Eric Bechtolf as head of drama.

So as not to endanger the Festival, in 2010 Markus Hinterhäuser was elected to the Board of Directors as interim Artistic Director. Festival President Rabl-Stadler took over the agenda of the departing Commercial Director Gerbert Schwaighofer until 2017; her contract was incrementally extended until 2020. She thus enters Festival history as the most influential President, who has succeeded in confidently leading the Festival through the rough and the smooth.

Also Alexander Pereira’s time as Artistic Director began with a change at the Whitsun Festival. In Cecilia Bartoli, one of the foremost singers of our era took over as Artistic Director in 2012 and led the Festival to new heights.

Even before the first Festival summer under his directorship began, quarrels about the budget flared up between Pereira and the Supervisory Board; Pereira backed growth and brilliant singers and wished to present solely new productions. In the end, he started with a successful new series and created with the ‘Ouverture spirituelle’ a format, which still continues today. The programme became much wider in range, which simultaneously meant a higher level of financing. In 2012, Rolex became the exclusive sponsor of the Whitsun Festival and main sponsor of the Salzburg Festival. In 2014, Audi extended its sponsorship, the next year Nestlé did the same. The Kühne Foundation became main sponsor in 2019. When in June 2013 Pereira announced he was to be the new director of La Scala Milan, his contract was terminated early, Bechtolf was appointed to the Board of Directors and together with Rabl-Stadler entrusted with the planning of the seasons 2015 and 2016. The position of Artistic Director was advertised. Still in 2014, the Supervisory Board engaged Markus Hinterhäuser to be the new Artistic Director starting in autumn 2016. He appointed Bettina Hering as head of drama in Salzburg and Florian Wiegand as head of concerts. The Board of Directors was reinforced in personnel to three again by the appointment of Lukas Crepaz as Commercial Director.

With the first seasons of Markus Hinterhäuser manifesting much artistic success, the Salzburg Festival has positioned itself as an ‘epicentre of the extraordinary’. When COVID-19 started to spread dramatically early in February 2020 and far-reaching restrictions put a stop to social and economic life all over the world, the Salzburg ­Festival, too, was significantly affected by these measures.