Breaking: Salzburg loses Magic Flute actor

Breaking: Salzburg loses Magic Flute actor


norman lebrecht

July 12, 2018

The Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, 77, has pulled out of Mozart’s Zauberflöte, citing poor health.

Ganz’s most celebrated role was Adolf Hitler in Downfall.

He is replaced by another star actor,  Klaus Maria Brandauer, who is 75.

That would be roughly the average audience age, too.


  • Petros Linardos says:

    Where is the evidence about the average age of the audience being around 75?

    The average age of the audience was 60 acording to research.

  • Christopher Stager says:

    Get well, Damiel. You are the last angel among us.

  • Suzanne says:

    Get well, Bruno Ganz. One of the great actors and narrators / speakers on the classical music scene in the German speaking world.

    • ninedragonspot says:

      Not just the German-speaking world. He was utterly charming in the Italian film Pane e Tulipani.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Fascinating interview.

    But let’s not forget Hitler’s opinion about John Cage:

  • Alan O'Connor says:

    I’m 48. And really looking forward to the seven concerts I’m going to in Salzburg this year. Nice to know it’ll be another 11 years before I’m the average audience!

    • Highwayroller says:

      I’m 37, and going to see all six operas this year and another 14 concerts in addition, will try to make statistics a bit younger, if only for Mr. Lebrecht.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Keep up with your good work, young people!

        I had the huge privilege of helping lower Salzburg’s average age in my late teens and early twenties, back in the days of Karajan (bashers have mercy).

  • Nik says:

    There isn’t usually a role for a Narrator in the Magic Flute, is there? Must be particular to this production. I wonder what text he is given to read.

  • John Rook says:

    Even if the average age were 75, where would be the harm? Older people are vilified enough for being drains on society, unproductive, unattractive and smelly. The least one could do would be to leave them this one bastion of culture while the young and beautiful elevate their minds discussing Kim Kardashian.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      Old people deserve to enjoy themselves and leave their good money in bastions of high culture. Nothing wrong with that.

      But the absence of young people in an audience can only heighten concerns about the future of classical music.

      • John Rook says:

        Well, not really. The same arguments were being launched over forty years ago when most of the current faithful would probably not have been seen dead in a concert hall or opera house. Appreciation of high art often comes with discernment born of intellectual curiosity and experience. That takes time. It’s also why it’s so important not to dumb down; you’ll only create an audience by offering quality.

        • Petros Linardos says:

          I agree only partly. I am 100% on quality. Dumbing down can alienate the faithful and doesn’t create new long term audiences.

          Appreciation deepens with age, but I don’t think it starts when the hairs turn gray or fall off. The seeds are best planted in childhood, preferably in active ways: attending concerts is the icing on the cake for children. I am speaking both from my own childhood experience and as a parent.

          One easily overlooked reason behind old people’s predominance in classical music events can be time and money: they are retired and not busy raising children.

          Over the 46 years I’ve been attending concerts I’ve observed more thinning than greying of audiences. (Greying is relative, so maybe as we get older the audiences look less old to us!) I believe this is consistent with statistics, but would love to be proved wrong.

  • Martin Atherton says:

    Norman’s comment about the average age of a Salzburg Festival audience is sadly characteristic because it is (a) untrue and (b) he still cannot resist it because it serves an agenda of his. I do find him entertaining but I struggle to take his critical opinions seriously when this sort of thing shows fundamental bias and unreliability. Not breaking news, I know.

  • Lubino says:

    It is quite obvious that Ganz didn’t want to associate himself with the stupid “reworking” of “Die Zauberflöte” which Lydia Steier perpetrated in Salzburg. Ganz was supposed to perform as the newly-invented “narrator” who appears as “the three boys’ grandfather” and continuously interfers with the opera by telling a fairy-tale plot that everbody already knows. This ludicrous idea led to an utter disaster and the singing was embarrassingly weak to boot.

    • Martin Atherton says:

      No, Lubino, it isn’t obvious at all – your comment is highly suppositious. As for Lydia Steier’s ideas being “stupid”, I will look forward to seeing the production next week and finding out whether I agree with you. It does sometimes seem that no director can serve a work by doing something even remotely interesting without attracting this kind of response.

    • lk says:

      No Lubino, It’s not quite obvious… because Bruno Ganz discovered during the repetitions that he has cancer… so, you must pay attention when you are speaking about other people’s decisions