Just in: Christian Thielemann in Salzburg collision

Just in: Christian Thielemann in Salzburg collision


norman lebrecht

August 21, 2019

The conductor has published an open letter in the Salzburger Nachrichten – behind paywall – detailing his conflict with the incoming Easter Festival director, Nikolaus Bachler.

Thielemann says he has planned Lohengrin for 2022 and Elektra for 2023, each with a stellar cast. Bachler has rejected his plans.

He is contracted as artistic director until 2022.

It’s deadlock.

Meanwhile, the main Salzburg Festival has leaked that it is planning Elektra next summer.


  • Gustavo says:

    He’s a bad looser, spoilt by the inbreeding success of Bayreuth.

  • Gustavo says:

    He was planning to bring coals to Newcastle.

    Elektra can just as well be done in the summer with the Vienna Phil.

    Bayreuth’s current Lohengrin can hardly be topped.

    So what’s the fuss?

  • thielemann / salzburg easter festival ! says:

    it is quite clear that people are going to the easter festival because of Christian Thielemann and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. no one will ever understand why a certain person put in an Intendant unwilling to work with this team.

    • Gustavo says:

      Why on Earth go to Salzburg to hear the Staatskapelle Dresden?

      Go to the Semperoper in Dresden where the best of Strauss’s operas were premiered.

      Strauss / von Hoffmansthal founded the far more important summer festival in Salzburg.

      The Easter edition is a Karajan invention as far as I know. Not a big tradition to get worked up about.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Those Salzburg festivals are hugely over-rated. Vienna, Berlin and Dresden are all highly recommended. Salzburg is essentially a theme park.

        • Gustavo says:

          You mean like Bayreuth?

        • MJA says:

          Sue Sonata Form – your comment baffles me. The facilities and the setting in Salzburg trump the other places you mention quite easily and to dismiss it as a theme park seems to me crass. Perhaps you’ve not visited recently, or judiciously, or else you are accustomed to some fabulous theme parks.

      • MJA says:

        Gustavo “Not a big tradition to get worked up about”? Well it’s lasted fifty -plus years and produced some remarkable things from Karajan, Abbado and Rattle so, with respect, I think you’re wrong.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Let’s hope Mr. Bachler will be sacked.

  • erich says:

    The whole thing is due to the staggering incompetence of the local Salzburg politicians and the board, who completely fail to understand basic artistic psychology.

  • Olassus says:

    Nikolaus Bachler, who has been a disaster for Bavarian State Opera (bequeathing 25–30 perverted or just stupid new productions for his successor Serge Dorn to replace), was recruited by Salzburg bigwigs for his close ties to Kirill Petrenko in the hope that the Berlin Philharmonic could be enticed back into its original position as anchor of the Easter Festival. So of course his first moves are to oust Thielemann and the Dresdners. It would be news if Thielemann and Bachler were getting along.

    • 32VA says:

      Yes, that string of sold-out Munich productions with 5* reviews, what a ”disaster’ he’s been, eh? And the clutch of top-end corporate sponsors he has wooed, who are all sticking in for future seasons? Or how about the innovative productions such as Kosky’s FIERY ANGEL, which have been taken up on co-production deals by the Met? They are hoping for more ‘disasters’ just like that, eh? It all illustrates the paucity of ideas behind Thielemann’s thinking. He should stick to waving a stick – all he can do. No wonder the Berliners didn’t want him.

      • sycorax says:

        I remember “North Pole” in Munich – sensationally expansive, celebrated by Bachler and his henchmen like a new gospel and flunked by the audience. The first night was full and then it became emptier every day until the end where a performer said “More people on the stage as in the house”.
        The second run wasn’t done. Rolando Villazon obviously wasn’t willing to ruin his voice even further with this stuff, Thomas Hampson (who wasn’t good in the first run) wasn’t enough to get people in the house – and so it was cancelled.
        It cost the BSO a lot of money – and I don’t think one could name it “a success”.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          I am sure you are right, but one failure doesn’t condemn the whole term of office. If it did we would have even more conservative programming than we do already.

        • 32VA says:

          Bravo, you found ONE production which wasn’t a success.

  • Olassus says:


  • Hermann Lederer says:

    Elektra comes next year with FWM in summer. He has lost the battle in Salzburg from the beginning because of his childish behaviour and the troubles will go on in Dresden and finally also in Bayreuth….

  • Waltraud Becker says:

    Elektra is planned for the Summer festival next year. So why the same opera soon later in a new prod. at Easter? He wants to promote Katharina Wagner!
    Lohengrn will be new at Bayreuth 2021, so it will be less work for him to put the cast and whole opera to Salzburg soon later…..
    No innovation, no real “program”…..
    Hope he will be out of Salzburg quickly.

    Bachler plans Freischütz and Holländer for 2023 and 2024 !

  • Amos says:

    Shocking, first Nelsons has to go from Bayreuth now Salzburg must kneel. Authoritarian rule, in music and politics, is a convenient way to try and mask incompetence.

    • Gustavo says:

      Pure agony.

      I think it’s now quite clear that Petrenko and the Berliners are going to be brought back to Newcastle.

      They will hopefully also take back the ZDF-Silvesterkonzerte.

    • face it .. says:

      so incredibly wrong and badly informed .. Nelsons put himself out of Bayreuth since of his own private problems as well of acoustic problems with the stage setting (which was optimized immediately). since then he isn t longer an option for Bayreuth, to the regret of all there. so only the journalists wrongly saw a connection to Thielemann .. he isn t that stupid, by the way. in Salzburg it seems that CT shall be made an sacrifice for a bad manoeuvre of some politicians. thats definitely not his fault. nevertheless he and his Dresden band saved the festival ..

  • Pedro says:

    I very much want to hear Elektra conducted by CT. I was supposed to go to Dresden when he did it with Herlitzius, Meier usw but an urgent surgery forced me to stay at home.

    Lohengrin I have heard I Dresden and Bsyreuth and it was splendid both times.

  • 32VA says:

    Elektra and Lohengrin?

    Is that all CT could think of?

  • Edgar says:

    “Electric” times coming to Salzburg, I take it…