Helga’s counted them all out… and she’s still there

Helga’s counted them all out… and she’s still there


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2015

When Helga Rabl-Stadler became president of the Salzburg Festival, Nikolaus Harnoncourt walked out.

Well, that’s Salzburg, always someone walking out.

But not Helga. Entering office 20 years ago today (she had previously run the Salzburg chamber of commerce), she has clung on through thick and thin, progressive regimes and laughably mediocre, for longer than anyone in charge at the festival since the late Herbert von Karajan.

Join us in raising a flute of Sekt tonight to Durability Helga, the Salzburg battery that never runs out.

helga rabl-stadler


  • Erich says:

    Let me defend Helga. She’s not mediocre. She has very skillfully carved a path for herself in a role, in a city and a country where such positions are regarded as targets for every form of abuse and intrigue – and has survived. Even more, she is now – in an interim fashion – responsible with Sven-Eric Bechtolf for the artistic Programme for the next two years as well as for the entire finance sector of the Festival. Mediocrity forsooth!
    Given the utterly ghastly names being bandied about about her possible successors after 2017, one can only hope she sticks around for another ten!

  • Barbara says:

    You have misread the sentence I think. The regimes sometimes were mediocre. That is why there are two commas round the phrase.

  • SDReader says:

    She is a classic bean-counter. That’s all.

    She destroyed Pereira’s regime, which marked a return to quality after 11 years of weak artistic leadership, and has now succeeded in restoring weak leadership, under which she thrives and the books are balanced.

    Have you seen the Salzburg Festival 2015 program? It is all about repetition and money-saving. 2016 will be weak too.

    No need to toast this woman!

    • Erich says:

      correction: Pereira destroyed his own regime. If he had made the slightest effort to keep the people he needed ‘on side’, instead of constantly alienating them with his unbelievable arrogance, he would have been a hero and have stayed the course, rather than being drummed out.