Salzburg Festival: operas Elektra and Così fan tutte

“Instead of 200 events over the course of 44 days at 16 performance venues, there will now be 110 events over 30 days at 8 venues. We will endeavour to postpone all the productions of the centenary programme which cannot be shown in 2020 to the summer of 2021. The anniversary programme will commence with the opening of the State Exhibition at the end of July 2020 and only end next year, on 31 August 2021.”


Franz Welser – Möst, photo Michael Poehn

12 Opera Performances: Elektra and Così fan tutte

The Salzburg Festival opens the summer of 2020 with a work which played a major role in the oeuvre of all three Festival founders – Richard Strauss, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt: the opera Elektra by Richard Strauss. Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s eponymous drama, based on the tragedy by Sophocles, was first performed in Berlin in 1903, directed by Max Reinhardt. Richard Strauss was in the audience, and he felt the encounter with Hofmannsthal to be guided by fate.


Aušrine Stundyte, Schneiderphotography

In a letter in 1906, he asked Hofmannsthal to ‘give me the right of first refusal for anything in your hand that lends itself to composition. Your manner corresponds so closely to my own, we were born for one another and shall certainly produce something beautiful together, if you remain faithful to me’. That same year, Richard Strauss began to compose his one-act opera. Three years later, on 25 January 1909, the world premiere took place in Dresden, with resounding success.

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Krzysztof Warlikowski, photo SF/Anne Zeuner

The present production is directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, who made his successful Salzburg Festival debut in 2018 with Hans Werner Henze’s The Bassarids. Franz WelserMöst, to whom the Salzburg Festival owes many unforgettable performances of Richard Strauss’ works, conducts the Vienna Philharmonie and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus. The role of Elektra will be embodied by the Lithuanian rising star Aušrine Stundyte. That of Chrysothemis will be sung by Asmik Grigorian, who was chosen by the critics’ poll of the journal Opernwelt as Singer of the Year for her portrayal of Salome in 2019. They are joined by Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as Clytemnestra, Michael Laurenz as Aegisthus and Derek Welton as Orestes. The premiere takes place on 1 August at the Felsenreitschule.

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Asmik Grigorian, photo Algirdas Bakas

Così fan tutte

The two Mozart operas originally scheduled for the centenary, Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte, will be presented in 2021. However, the audience will not have to forego a Mozart opera in such an important year: Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser and director Christof Loy have spontaneously developed the idea of making Così fan tutte an experience for these coronavirus times: without major stage machinery and with a significantly reduced rehearsal period.


Joana Mallwitz, photo lutz edelhoff

Joana Mallwitz conducts the Vienna Philharmonic, making her Festival debut in Così fan tutte, the first woman ever to conduct an opera at the Salzburg Festival. A young ensemble has been engaged: Elsa Dreisig takes on the role of Fiordiigi and Marianne Crebassa that of her sister Dorabella. Bogdan Volkov sings the role of Ferrando and Andrè Schuen that of Guglielmo. Lea Desandre and Johannes Martin Kränzle appear as Despina and Don Alfonso.The premiere takes place on 2 August at the Großes Festspielhaus.


Marianne Crebassa, photo Simon Flower

“The dream of a fairy temple”

Artistic Interventions on Festival Theatres Never Built: Mönchsberg, Schlosspark Hellbrunn, Kapuzinerberg, Mirabellgarten – July to December 2020.

Over the last 130 years, numerous sites were planned for a Festspielhaus, or Festival Hall. For the Festival’s centenary, it plans to make four of these unrealized architectural projects visible, breathing life into them through artistic interventions. The choice of locations — on the Mönchsberg in 1890, in Hellbrunn in 1922, on the Kapuzinerberg from 1940 to 1943 and on the Mirabell Garden’s Rosenhügel in 1950 — clearly shows the great importance that was attached to the building of a Festspielhaus. (After Press Materials).

Marijan Zlobec

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