Salzburg Festival Whitsun
21.-24. May 2021
Great success: Salzburg Festival Whitsun 2021
Euphoric applause from the audience and 99.5 percent of seats filled (based on the 50 percent of maximum capacity currently permitted by the authorities), but also the passion and joy of the artists on stage bore witness to the immensity of everyone’s longing for culture and the arts. The 2021 Salzburg Whitsun Festival was the first major classical music festival worldwide to take place after the end of the cultural lockdown, running from 21 to 24 May.
Under the motto ROMA ÆTERNA, Cecilia Bartoli invited the audience on a musical journey through her hometown, Rome. This was the tenth Whitsun Festival programme the artistic director had conceived for Salzburg.
2021 Salzburg Festival Whitsun will take place.
(SF, 29 April 2021) “Opera, theatre, ballet and concerts with an audience? When will the performing arts finally be allowed to leave the infinite loop of worldwide streaming behind? When will the arts, this nourishment for our souls, finally be systemically relevant? Starting on 19 May, this will actually come true in Salzburg: at Whitsun we will finally perform for an audience again! We are all overjoyed about this decision, and I would like to express my personal gratitude to the political decision makers and the Salzburg Festival’s management! Long live the arts and our shared enjoyment of them, that mysterious dialectic of passionate performance and open-minded reception,” says Cecilia Bartoli, Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.
The strategy for the 2021 Whitsun Festival remains the same as in the past, highly successful Festival year: under the primacy of health, the goal is to implement a festival which is artistically meaningful and economically viable. Information on the Prevention Plan COVID-19 can be found here.
Almost all performances can take place as planned. Under the motto ROMA ÆTERNA, Artistic Director Cecilia Bartoli places Rome – the eternal city, her hometown – at the centre of the 2021 Salzburg Whitsun Festival.
However, the Austrian government’s recent decree has made several changes to the programme necessary:
One event affected is the sacred concert Dixit Dominus by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner. Due to the British quarantine regulations, the artists themselves had to cancel their participation, which the Salzburg Festival sincerely regrets. Cecilia Bartoli is working on an alternate programme.
The Gala Dinner with the award-winning chef Heinz Beck cannot be held as planned and desired, due to the current Covid-19 regulations for the gastronomy sector; presumably it will be rescheduled for next year.
In 2021 I would like to pay special homage to Rome, my beloved home town. Completing 150 years as the capital of modern Italy, Rome retains its contradictory identities, one of proud splendour and the other of decadence and decay. Throughout all times, and despite having repeatedly been declared dead, the city has lived up to its epithet as the Eternal City and is still going strong.
Rome is one of those places that make dreams converge: in our mind life is easy in Rome, the scenery wonderful, people friendly, the food exquisite. Its culture is breathtaking and history palpable wherever we stop and look. We see Rome’s magnificence in its radiant marble buildings and dark green trees. They still dazzle our imagination with the same sort of impact as when we first set eye upon the newly restored frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.
Rome’s reputation as an eternal city was formed in antiquity and duly celebrated by great poets such as Virgil. But the sanctification of Rome had already begun around 200 BCE when Roman power and the Roman people had become identified with a goddess, Roma, for whom special sanctuaries were erected in distant provinces. In Christian times, its establishment as the pivot of the Roman-Catholic world consolidated the belief that the city would exist forever.
Rome has always displayed this grandeur, and we still marvel at it in the 21st century in extravagant epic films and in the shop windows of Via Veneto. On the other hand, many have been attracted by the black-and-white Rome of a darker world such as that portrayed in the films of Fellini, Rossellini or Pasolini.
Indeed, when you arrive in Rome today it strikes you as an overcrowded urban nightmare with a derelict infrastructure where people struggle to lead an ordinary life.
As someone born in this city, I have always been exposed to these contrasts. When you leave your apartment in the morning in Rome, you never know when your bus will arrive or whether it will arrive at all. Nor can you foresee anything the day will bring.
When I was young, I was not aware of the particular fascination Rome has for visitors. For me, it was normal to walk my dog in the park of the Villa Doria Pamphili, to drive my red Fiat Cinquecento around the Colosseum on my way to the Conservatoire, to pass an ancient aqueduct when my train left Termini station. I did not notice the pieces of white marble set into an ancient red-brick wall near my house. Nor did it cross my mind as a ten-year-old singing the shepherd in Tosca at the Rome Opera that each of the three acts was set in an actual building I had passed on my way to the theatre. Or rather, I had realized it but did not think of it as anything unusual.
The awareness grew when I started to leave Rome for longer periods to follow my profession and as I deepened my knowledge of the arts and music. Suddenly, I felt the intensely moving frisson of being in touch with history when leafing through the autograph manuscript of Bellini’s Norma at the Santa Cecilia library, when first meeting living members of the Pamphilj family, when singing at a church located literally in the Forum Romanum, or when I became the first woman to work with the Sistine Chapel Choir.
I finally began to understand why so many of the greatest artists had longed to visit Rome, where and why they were inspired to create their masterpieces. My favourite composers had been profoundly influenced by both the real and the imaginary
Rome: Caldara, Handel, Mozart, Rossini and so many others.
At the same time, I realized that what I had taken as a matter of course was in fact a huge offering to me. Today, I feel responsible for this legacy and would like to share it with you.
As children, we used to make fun of my mother when she told us she remembered the real old Rome where you travelled by horse-drawn carriage and bathed in the Tiber. When I return to Rome today and get stuck in one of those traffic jams or a throng of tourists, I think that I am the one who remembers the real old Rome of my childhood, when people played music in the small restaurants of Trastevere, when I was taken to see Aida with real elephants at the Baths of Caracalla, when I rode my Vespa to town.
Today’s ‘real’ Rome suffers badly from the same problems facing other large cities in the world: overcrowding, failing infrastructure, insufficient funding, poverty. From the perspective of other Italian regions, Rome is often perceived as proud, bureaucratic and devouring the country’s wealth.
And yet, every time I go there, I fall under its spell, experiencing feelings of gratitude and pride. I love walking past the fori on Sundays when the thoroughfare is closed to traffic.I browse the stalls at local markets. I still find many quiet places — even in the city centre — where waiters and shopkeepers chat with their customers, where locals marvel at the beauty of their own city, where people walk along the street singing popular songs. And although it has changed profoundly over the centuries, I feel that the essence of Rome has remained the same, both in my imaginary city, as in the real one.
Eternal Rome — yes. But next to cultivating your dreams you must also get to grips with reality in order to withstand the trials of time. This is the essence of Handel’s Roman oratorio Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno. It was conceived during a period when the Pope had banned opera in Rome. So apart from indulging in philosophy, inventive cardinals, composers and performers had to conceive a practical way of getting around this ban, which might have prevented music from thriving.
Rome teaches you not to shut out truth, to remain flexible and accept transformation without relinquishing your dreams. This important aspect belongs to my love and admiration for Rome and formed my own philosophy of life.
I have the great pleasure of creating my tenth programme for you in Salzburg at Whitsun 2021. Bearing in mind the changeful fate of Rome — the ideal one and the real one — and observing how it has overcome so many different trials, I am confident that we will meet again and celebrate this wonderful occasion together.
Programme Whitsun Festival
Questions and Answers
In the event of a performance cancellation, the customer will only be refunded the ticket price. After two-thirds of the planned duration, the performance is considered to have been completed. In case the performance is broken off earlier the refund is made proportionately. Further claims of the customer are excluded if the Salzburg Festival is not responsible for the reason for the cancellation of the event. The claim for the ticket refund must be stated within 3 months of the date of the cancelled performance. After that any claim expires.
Please note the rgulations considering the Jedermann on Cathedral Square: Since Jedermann performances on Domplatz (Cathedral Square) are openair performances, a weather risk cannot be excluded. In the event of rain or an uncertain weather situation (e.g. heavy rain or thunderstorms), the performance may be moved to the Grosses Festspielhaus. After 60 minutes, the performance is considered to have been completed; if the performance is cancelled earlier, the admission fee will be refunded on a pro rata basis. Due to the differences between the venues Domplatz and the Grosses Festspielhaus, it is not possible to guarantee a side-by-side position in the event of a performance of the Jedermann in the Grosses Festspielhaus, or to vary the position in line and spatial positioning in relation to Domplatz.
If the necessary bank details are available, any return transfers will be made from the day after the respective performance date (in the case of several performances, after the day of the last performance for which tickets have been accepted for resale on commission).
It is the customer’s responsibility to check the information on his/her tickets immediately after receipt. In the event of any errors, the ticket office must be contacted immediately.
The State of Salzburg has established a website especially for this issue.
Prevention measures set by the Salzburg Festival can be found on this site: Info Coronavirus.
General information on the coronavirus in Austria:
Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety Österreichisches Sozialministerium (in German only)
Outside of Austria, please contact the local health authorities.
Information on the prevention plan can be found here.
Learn more about the Whitsun Festival 2021