Final Report on the 2016 Salzburg Festival

42 days ago Haydn’s Die Schöpfung was performed at the Großes Festspielhaus, opening the Ouverture spirituelle and thus the 2016 Salzburg Festival. Now the time has come to summarize the Festival summer of 2016. The programme featured 192 performances over the course of 41 days at 14 performance venues.


Die Liebe der Danae, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Forster

The Festival opened one week later, on Thursday, July 28, 2016, with a world premiere by the British composer Thomas Adès. The Exterminating Angel is based on Luis Buñuel’s film of the same title. Adès himself also conducted the piece, earning standing ovations from the audience at the premiere. Tom Cairns, who also created the libretto, directed the production. The ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna performed; the cast included Anne Sofie von Otter, Charles Workman, Frédéric Antoun, Thomas Allen and John Tomlinson. After Salzburg, the opera will be shown in London, Copenhagen, and in 2018 in New York.


Thomas Adès – The Exterminating Angel, Salzburger Festspiele / Monika Rittershaus

For a contemporary opera, the piece reached the remarkable percentage of 91% of sold seats. Altogether, 46 opera performances were on the programme: three new productions, two revivals, one restaging, one revival from the Salzburg Whitsun Festival and three concert performances formed the 2016 opera offerings. Compared to last summer, 12,000 opera tickets more were on sale – a record topped only during the Mozart Year 2006.

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Richard Strauss – Die Liebe der Danae

With Die Liebe der Danae, an opera was performed which is part of the Festival’s history: it was scheduled to have its world premiere in Salzburg in 1944 – however, due to the events of July 20, 1944, the Festival was cancelled by the Nazis, so that only the public dress rehearsal of Danae could take place. The actual premiere followed only in 1952. Alvis Hermanis directed a fairy-tale production inspired by Art Nouveau style. The audience and critics agreed that in conductor Franz Welser-Möst and the singers Krassimira Stoyanova, Tomasz Konieczny and Gerhard Siegel, the opera had an outstanding cast. 10.659 visitors saw Die Liebe der Danae: 50 percent more than in 2002, when the opera was last featured on the Salzburg Festival’s programme. Charles Gounod’s opera Faust, on the other hand, made its first appearance on the playbill of the Salzburg Festival on August 10. Reinhard von der Thannen directed and designed stage sets and costumes. Piotr Beczala was celebrated as Faust, as were Ildar Abdrazakov as Méphilstophélès and Maria Agresta as Marguerite. Alejo Pérez conducted the Vienna Philharmonic at the Großes Festspielhaus.


W. A. Mozart – Le nozze di Figaro, Salzburger Festspiele / Ruth Walz

The Mozart / Da Ponte Cycle was completed by director Sven-Eric Bechtolf in 2015 with Le nozze di Figaro. This Festival summer featured all three productions – Le nozze di Figaro (2015), Don Giovanni (2014) and Così fan tutte (2013) – as revivals, the latter restaged at the Felsenreitschule.


W. A. Mozart – Così fan tutte, Salzburger Festspiele / Ruth Walz

Ottavio Dantone conducted the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg. Julia Kleiter as Fiordiligi and Angela Brower as Dorabella were enthusiastically received. Mauro Peter took on the role of Ferrando and Alessio Arduini sang Guglielmo. Martina Janková and Michael Volle drove the intrigue forward as Despina and Don Alfonso at the Felsenreitschule.


W. A. Mozart – Don Giovanni, Salzburger Festspiele / Ruth Walz

Alain Altinoglu was the conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic for Don Giovanni. As in 2014, Ildebrando d’Arcangelo sang Don Giovanni, while Luca Pisaroni repeated his performance of Leporello. Donna Anna was portrayed by Carmela Remigio, while Layla Claire took on the role of Donna Elvira. Paolo Fanale sang Don Ottavio, Alain Coulombe the Commendatore. Zerlina was embodied by Valentina Nafornita, while Masetto was sung by Alessio Arduini alternating with Iuri Samoilov. Don Giovanni reached a percentage of seats sold of 96%.


Le nozze di Figaro

Dan Ettinger conducted the Vienna Philharmonic in Le nozze di Figaro, as in 2015. Luca Pisaroni and Annett Fritsch repeated their performance as Count and Countess Almaviva from last summer; Margarita Gritskova sang Cherubino and the servants Susanna and Figaro were portrayed by Anna Prohaska and Adam Plachetka. All three Da Ponte opera were celebrated by the audience; 94% of seats were sold. More than 25,700 visitors attended the Mozart operas.


Leonard Bernstein – West Side Story, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Silvia Lelli

Long before its revival, the Salzburg Whitsun Festival’s production of West Side Story was sold out. Cecilia Bartoli in the role of Maria and Norman Reinhardt as her Tony convinced the audience. For the production by Philip Wm. McKinley, 60 tons of steel and acrylic glass were used to construct the sets, turning the Felsenreitschule into a New York street scene. Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela not only contributed passionate and hot-blooded South American rhythms, but also accompanied the duets of Tony and Maria with sensitive tenderness.


Yusif Eyvazov and Anna Netrebko in Manon Lescaut, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

Anna Netrebko was celebrated in the concert performances of Manon Lescaut, side by side with her husband Yusif Eyvazov, whose Salzburg Festival debut convinced reviewers and audiences equally. Armando Piña took on the role of Lescaut, Carlos Chausson sang Geronte de Ravoir and Benjamin Bernheim portrayed Edmondo. Marco Armiliato conducted the Munich Radio Orchestra. After the performance on August 7, a Gala Soiree took place at the Salzburg Residenz in honour of Anna Netrebko. The net proceeds of 107,618 Euros benefit the Salzburg Festival’s youth education programmes.


Placido Domingo – Thais, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

Thunderous applause also greeted Plácido Domingo after the concert performance of Jules Massenet’s Thaïs on August 16. In the role of Athanaël, he won the audience over completely; at his side, Marina Rebeka as Thaïs and Benjamin Bernheim as Nicias were no less convincing. Patrick Fournillier conducted the Munich Radio Orchestra.


Otto Nicolai – Il templario, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

An opera rarity provided the vehicle for a brilliant performance by tenor Juan Diego Flórez: Il templario was composed in 1840 by the founder of the Vienna Philharmonic, but fell into obscurity later, despite its great success at the time. Clémentine Margaine sang the role of Rebecca at Flórez’ side. Andrés Orozco-Estrada conducted the Vienna Philharmonic.


Vienna Philharmonic and Mariss Jansons, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

81 concerts were presented at the 2016 Salzburg Festival

As in recent years, the Ouverture spirituelle opened the Festival, exploring Eastern Christianity in 2016. Five sold-out concerts offered a portrayal of this highly diverse vocal music. Ensembles and choirs from Russia, Greece, Armenia, Lebanon, Egypt and Ethiopia presented their repertoire and skills. These works were juxtaposed with those of our Western tradition, including three oratorios: Die Schöpfung by Haydn already mentioned above and conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, winning storms of rapture from the audience at the Großes Festspielhaus; the world premiere of Péter Eötvös’ Oratorium balbulum, which earned many a laugh and enthusiastic applause from the audience, and Handel’s oratorio Belshazzar conducted by Ottavio Dantone.


Ouverture spirituelle – Choir of the Geghard Monastery (Armenia), foto Salzburger Festspiele / Michael Pöhn

Two special events were the focus of the Ouverture spirituelle. On the one hand, there was the concert of the Bavarian Radio Chorus at the Kollegienkirche with works by Schnittke, Pärt and Rachmaninoff, which will remain unforgotten to all those present. On the other, Isabelle Faust’s three-hour interpretation of Bach’s Partitas and Sonatas mesmerized the audience at the Kollegienkirche. The focus on Salzburg 2016 explored works with a close relationship with Salzburg itself.


Salzburger Festspiele and Theater Kinder Chor, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Michael Pöhn

Thus, the performance of the Missa Salisburgensis at the place of its first performance, Salzburg’s Cathedral, used no less than four organs, to the audience’s delight.


Missa Salisburgensis, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

The series The Vienna Philharmonic and its Composers illuminated works closely associated with or first performed by this orchestra. Daniel Harding, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and Mariss Jansons conducted the series, which also included the operas Il templario and Die Liebe der Danae. A chamber concert rounded out the programme, featuring two chamber music works – by Schoenberg and Bruckner – representing the great chamber music tradition of the Vienna Philharmonic, and originally premiered by ensembles of the Vienna Philharmonic.


Missa Salisburgensis

Under the heading Guest Orchestras, leading international orchestras graced the Salzburg stages: the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Concentus Musicus by Andrés Orozco-Estrada, the ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra appeared under the baton of Lorenzo Viotti – winner of the 2015 Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award – and of Cornelius Meister; furthermore there were performances by the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra under Daniel Barenboim, the Cleveland Orchestra under Franz Welser-Möst, the Filarmonica della Scala under Riccardo Chailly, the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Philippe Jordan, the Berlin Philharmonic under Simon Rattle, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam under Daniele Gatti and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig under Herbert Blomstedt.


Berlin Philharmonic and  Simon Rattle, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The series Salzburg contemporary honoured four composers. One was Thomas Adès, who performed his own Piano Quintet written in 2000. The 90-year-old Friedrich Cerha honoured the Salzburg Festival with the world premiere of Eine blassblaue Vision, but also won stormy applause for his Keintate, featuring HK Gruber as vocalist and conductor. Another anniversary was celebrated by György Kurtág, who was represented by works from different creative periods. The young clarinettist and composer Mark Simpson performed his Hommage à Kurtág. Péter Eötvös was equally present as a composer and conductor. As mentioned above, he presented his world premiere of Hallelujah – Oratorium balbulum.


Salzburg Contemporary – Songs of Cerha and Kurtag with Isabelle Faust and Anu KOmsi,  foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The traditional series of Mozart Matinees brought first and foremost the Salzburg debut of conductor Constantinos Carydis together with the bass soloist Tareq Nazmi and the Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg – labelled a “Mozart miracle” by the press. The series was dedicated to the world of the First Viennese School, with works ranging from Mozart to Beethoven.


Mozart Matinee – Mozarteum Orchestra Salzburg, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The Camerata Salzburg offered six concerts this year: Ádám Fischer conducted Mozart’s Mass in C minor at the St. Peter’s Abbey; Lionel Bringuier gave a celebrated debut with Yuja Wang; and Roger Norrington, the Camerata Salzburg’s conductor laureate, led an all Beethoven programme.


Carrie – Ann Matheson and Rolando Villazón, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli


Yuja Wang and Matthias Goerne, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

Song recitals were offered by Christian Gerhaher, Bejun Mehta, Matthias Goerne, Thomas Hampson, Anu Komsi and Rolando Villazón, plus a recital debut by Mauro Peter.


Debut by Mauro Peter, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The series of Solo Recitals brought a reunion of great pianists. Grigory Sokolov was celebrated with endless applause; Maurizio Pollini received standing ovations.


Maurizio Pollini – Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli


Arcadi Volodos, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli


Grigory Sokolov, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The series of Chamber Music Concerts featured outstanding quartets, among others: the Calder Quartet was joined by Thomas Adès at the piano, the Jerusalem Quartet appeared with András Schiff, and the Quatuor Ébène performed.


Anna Prohaska, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

Martin Grubinger & Friends won the audience over completely, and Anna Prohaska performed a highly extraordinary programme with Veronika Eberle & Friends. For the 11th time, August 28 saw a Special Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, this year with young wind and brass talents from Salzburg and Lower Austria.


Special Concert of the Vienna Philharmonic, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

Children’s and Youth Programme

A total of 19 performances were offered for children and teenagers at the 2016 Salzburg Festival. These included eight performances of the children’s opera Die Feenkönigin and eight introductory workshops Fun and Games with Purcell.


Fun and Games with Purcell, Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

For the first time, four opera camps were offered. The children’s and youth programme was also 100% sold out.

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Sean Michael Plumb (Oberon) and  Nika Gorič (Titania), Salzburger Festspiele / Matthias Baus

Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award 2016

The Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award was presented for the seventh time this year. The three young finalists were: Ciarán McAuley (33) from Ireland, Alexander Prior (23) from Great Britain and Aziz Shokhakimov (27) from Uzbekistan.


Aziz Shokhakimov, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The winner of the prize, which carries a cash value of 15.000 Euros, is Aziz Shokhakimov, who conducted the Radio Symphony Orchestra Vienna in the Prize-Winner’s Concert at the Felsenreitschule.

Young Singers Project

13 young vocalists participated this year in the Young Singers Project, which offers young talents not only musical training, repertoire expansion and stage experience, but also the opportunity to attend rehearsals and work with Salzburg Festival artists.


Young Singers Project, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

The audience was able to witness their progress, for example in the public master classes with KS Christa Ludwig, Ann Murray, Thomas Hampson and Malcolm Martineau, but also in the children’s opera Die Feenkönigin and in the concert performances of Thaïs, side by side with Plácido Domingo, and in Manon Lescaut with Anna Netrebko. The highlight was the final concert of the Young Singers, during which they presented a diverse programme illuminating the vocal qualities of each individual participant. The path for their next career moves is prepared.



Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler was named “Grande Ufficiale dell’ordine della Stella d’Italia” on August 13, 2016. The medal was presented to her by the Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Giorgio Marrapodi, in the presence of Maestro Riccardo Muti.


Helga Rabl-Stadler, Riccardo Muti and H.E. Giorgio Marrapodi, Salzburger Festspiele/Anne Zeuner

Friedrich Cerha and the Salzburg Festival go back many years. This relationship between Festival and composer was commemorated on August 10, 2016 by Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler. Cerha made his Salzburg Festival debut in 1965; this year – during which he also turned 90 – he gave the audience the world premiere of his work Eine blassblaue Vision.


Heinz Wiesmüller, Friedrich Cerha  and  Helga Rabl-StadlerSalzburger Festspiele/Anne Zeuner

On August 8, 2016 – the eve of his 200th performance at the Salzburg Festival – Peter Simonischek was awarded the Ruby Festival Brooch by Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler and Artistic Director Sven-Eric Bechtolf.


Peter Simonischek (second) was awarded, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

After a celebrated concert, Zubin Mehta also accepted the Ruby Festival Brooch from President Helga Rabl-Stadler on August 7, 2016. For more than 55 years, he has been conducting the Vienna Philharmonic, with whom he made his Salzburg debut on August 3, 1962. This performance has been followed by 39 additional concerts since that day.


Zubin Mehta was awarded, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

On August 29, Sven-Eric Bechtolf was awarded the Ring of the City of Salzburg, a very rare honour, by Mayor Dr. Heinz Schaden for his outstanding service to the Salzburg Festival.


Sven-Eric Bechtolf was awarded, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

Broadcasts at the Siemens Festival Nights

The Siemens Festival Nights celebrated its 15-year anniversary this summer. 750.000 culture lovers have enjoyed the public screening events over the past 15 years – a series that can be called the largest and most successful public screening on the European cultural scene without exaggeration. The special atmosphere on Kapitelplatz makes the Siemens Festival Nights, which are presented in cooperation with Siemens, the Salzburg Festival, ORF Salzburg and Unitel, a unique experience. Once again, the audience flocked to Kapitelplatz: so far, 50.000 visitors have attended the free screenings of operas, concerts and drama productions on the daylight-compatible large LED wall.


Siemens Festival Nights, foto Siemens

Apart from historical productions, major premieres of this year’s programme were shown: new productions such as Die Liebe der Danae and Faust as well as the unique ambiance of one of the largest open-air culture feasts drew thousands of viewers to Kapitelplatz. Altogether, 58 performances were screened this year, with something for visitors of all ages. As every year, the Siemens Children’s Festival enjoyed great popularity.

Esteemed Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press!


Sven-Eric Bechtolf, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

“My time at the Salzburg Festival is ending, as you know, and I would like to give thanks. First of all, I wish to thank all the employees of the Festival. They have supported me in the various positions I was fortunate to hold here, sharing their experience and expertise with me. From the beginning, I found a professional and even friendly reception. I always felt supported in our joint efforts and was given the benefit of many a “lesson”, being a “career changer”, so to speak. We have achieved much in these five years, and all those involved have every right to be proud of these achievements. Thank you! I also wish to thank the Festival’s Supervisory Board. For the trust that was placed in me, but most of all for the passionate interest and true concern for the Festival, which I always felt to be genuine across party lines. Therefore, you will not hear any complaints about politicians from me, on the contrary: I was deeply impressed with the professionalism and human quality of the members of the Supervisory Board and its delegates. My thanks are due to the members of the Supervisory Board, to Landeshauptmann Wilfried Haslauer, to Mayor Heinz Schaden, to the representative of the Tourism Fund, Hans Scharfetter, Member of the State Parliament and Chairman of the Supervisory Board this year, to the representatives of the Federal State of Austria, Section Leader Andrea Ecker and NR Abg. Maria Fekter; and, for the members of the Assembly of Delegates, to Associate Landeshauptmann Astrid Rössler and Johann Bachleitner, this year’s Chairman of the Assembly of Delegates. I must also thank the Association of Friends. It is the largest and most faithful supporter of the Festival, and economically and emotionally solid as a rock. As a representative of all the members of the association, I thank Heinrich Spängler. My gratitude also goes to our sponsors, who never tried to influence the Festival in its presentations, and without whose support the Festival would probably not exist anymore in its current shape. We should never tire of remembering this fact and acknowledging them.


Sven-Eric Bechtolf, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

Of course I also thank our wonderful and knowledgeable audience all over the world, which received most of our programmes with such enthusiasm. Please remain faithful friends to the Festival for many years to come. My thanks are due to the outstanding artists who have performed here in Salzburg during the past five years. It was an honour for us and, as many assured me, an honour for them as well.

My special thanks go to Claudia Mayr, my assistant in the Artistic Director’s Office. I owe Constanze Albert, the director of the drama office, and all her staff there more than gratitude. And of course I think Helga Rabl-Stadler. I am convinced that nobody suspects what an enormous workload she shoulders and with what active enthusiasm she serves the Festival! And nobody needs to suspect it, but I want her to know that I know, and that she has my wholehearted admiration for it. Thank you for a beautiful cooperation, and thank you for a beautiful friendship. Naturally, in my function as Artistic Director I also thank you, the representatives of the press, for your interest in the Festival and your reporting. Personally, the extraordinarily positive reaction and support of the audience, the heartfelt recognition of my efforts from my colleagues the artists, and the outstanding economic success of the past years on the one hand, and the vilification – some of which appearing dogmatic to me at times – heaped upon my work by large parts of the German-language press on the other hand have often held me in a state of painful schizophrenia. Since, however, it is better to part as friends, I would like to share a line from Così fan tutte with you: “Quello che è stato è stato, scordiamci del passato” – or: What is done, is done – let us forget the past.”

Sven-Eric Bechtolf


Sven-Eric Bechtolf, foto Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

International Recordings and Broadcasts of Festival Productions

Together with UNITEL, the exclusive audio-visual media partner of the Salzburg Festival, 4 productions from the concert and opera departments were recorded as co-productions with ORF, 3sat, NHK and Classica, and broadcast in approximately 40 countries via television and internet. ORF Radio broadcast 5 opera productions and 22 concerts. Via the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) partners, these were rebroadcast in about 30 countries worldwide.


Siemens Festival Nights, foto Siemens


220.936 at regular events, 1.415 ate 1 sold-out dress rehearsal, 17.346 at 57 special events (e.g. master classes, Festival Opening Party etc.) = 239.697.  19,321 at 16 ticketed rehearsals and dress rehearsals = 259.018 The percentage of seats sold will exceed that of the previous season (95%) by 1%, reaching a total of 96%. Provenance of Visitors: 81 Nations – 41 Non-European Nations.

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