Statement from the Salzburg Festival: There is hope…

Statement from the Salzburg Festival: There is hope…


norman lebrecht

March 25, 2020

Just in:

(SF, March 25, 2020) The Salzburg Festival has a clearly defined plan with several levels to prepare decisions about whether the Festivals at Whitsun and in the summer can take place.

Level 1 was triggered on 16. March. Following guidance provided by the authorities, since that day all Festival theatres, offices and workshops have been closed, currently until 13. April. This means that all employees, including for example those in the ticket office, who can work from home are doing so via telecommuting, including the Directorate itself, of course.

The second level requires a decision on 15. April. At that point a decision must be made whether the Whitsun Festival, which is scheduled from 29. May to 1. June, can take place as planned. Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser is in continuous exchange about this with Cecilia Bartoli, the Whitsun Festival’s artistic leader. She is full of optimism and also already considering alternatives, should shortened rehearsal periods require programme changes.

Level 3 will become necessary on 30. May. By this point, a decision must be reached whether, and possibly in which form, the centenary edition of the Festival can take place. Of course, the Festival has already worked out various scenarios for this.

Artistically, the Salzburg Festival is well-prepared for both festivals, and able to make up for the phase of inactivity caused by present closures.

Both decisions, however, do not depend on the Festival’s leadership, but on the development of the coronavirus pandemic and the political decisions it requires. In order to eradicate the virus, we must all stand together. Therefore, health takes priority over all artistic and economic issues. However, there is hope that the Festival will be able to celebrate its anniversary with music and theatre.




  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    This is not a wise time to invest any money on buying tickets or making travelling arrangements for future events. What is likely to happen is there will be periods of relaxation of restrictions, followed by a surge in the number of people infected. More restrictions will follow. A period of total uncertainty.

    • Nik says:

      Tickets for Salzburg summer are already allocated.
      My letter arrived just a few days before Austria went into lockdown.

  • MezzoLover says:

    Looks like the 2020 Lucerne Summer Festival, which is scheduled from 14. August to 13. September, will take place as planned, as tickets went on sale on 23. March and are still available for online purchase at the time of this writing.

    The Festival also made this announcement on its website:

    “The conductor Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is expecting her second child this summer. As a result, she will be unable to appear at Lucerne Festival and to fulfill her role as artiste étoile.”

    The announcement, dated 22. March, made no mention of Mirga’s more recent, COVID-19-related health challenge.

  • Leporello says:

    Whistling in the wind. Reality? What’s that?

    • Tamino says:

      That’s a very good question, what is reality. But not necessarily in the way that you are biased toward reality?

      Probably only at the end of this year, when overall mortality stats will show that an average amount of people died in 2020, will people understand what is happening right now. Or probably they will not notice then either.
      Let’s wait and see. (and prepare for the worst, which is the worst, but not necessarily what will happen)

      • Saxon Broken says:

        It will be slightly more than “average mortality stats” this year. And the lockdown is one of the things ensuring the numbers aren’t much higher.

  • George says:

    Let’s just wait and see. Everybody is so impatient nowadays and wondering whether festivals will go ahead or not. The situation is changing daily. Let’s give the people responsible some space to prepare their strategies.

  • geoff says:

    Listening to expert comments this evening I doubt that any festivals will be able to take place in Europe until late summer or early fall. This is very disturbing news. But the people making these statements are not festival administrators or politicians. ‘Tis Reality