Salzburg: We don’t want to be an exception

Salzburg: We don’t want to be an exception


norman lebrecht

April 27, 2020

Helga Rabl-Stadler, outgoing president of the Salzburg Festival, said last night on Austrain television that she would go along with whatever the rest of the country does, a strong indication that the full festival will not take place. She hinted at generously-spaced concerts being held outdoors in the cathedral square as one alternative option.

‘We don’t want to be an exception,’ she said. ‘Either everyone – under the rules of health – can unlock or nobody can.’

She went on to say that ‘pretty much all politicians are second to third-rate about art and culture.’



  • Olassus says:

    They should not be an exception, indeed, but it would be reasonable given the festival’s prominence and clout with the government in Vienna for them to test various configurations and possible solutions over the summer so that we can see how the 2020-21 season might shape up, not just in Austria but everywhere.

    Otherwise where will be be? Experimenting during the main season? Giving up on live music?

    We want to know how for instance a symphony orchestra can now operate, how opera singers can rehearse, how audience seating can be configured to be safe.

    Salzburg is a good place to start because the festival encompasses every type of art music form in a variety of venue types, and won’t be allowed to fail. To say nothing of the 100-year anniversary.

    • MezzoLover says:

      I am not sure what you mean by “Salzburg…won’t be allowed to fail.” Last time I checked, the virus did not recognize any boundaries between cities, states or countries when it spread.

      And Salzburg is definitely NOT a good place to start this experiment, precisely because of the concentration of various music venues and the restaurants/cafes/shops clustering around them, all within a fairly confined area with narrow, winding streets which would make social distancing very challenging. (it is an altogether different physical environment compared with Lucerne which is still holding on to ITS 2020 summer festival.)

      Finally, the fact that this would be the 100th edition of the Salzburg Summer Festival should have no relevance in the decision-making process. After all, Beethoven’s musical legacy lives on without the planned celebration in either Bonn, Baden-Baden or Berlin for LvB’s 250th birthday.

      • Mama Moomin says:

        I agree. I find it difficult to understand that they still have not cancelled the summer festival, when the Tokyo Olympics, which was originally scheduled to take place around the same time, has been cancelled. Both events draw a large number of people from around the world and require some form of rehearsing in groups in advance of the actual dates. (e.g. the preliminary rounds for the olympics and the rehearsals for Salzburg). And let’s not forget that the average age of the visitors to Salzburg Festival is much older and thus more vulnerable to this illness!! There are talks coming from several heads of state in Europe that travel to Schengen from non-Schengen areas might have to be banned till September (Macron specifically mentioned this). As someone who will have to fly in from a non-Schengen area to attend Salzburg, I’m worried about this as well and I don’t understand why the organisers are stalling regarding making a final decision whether to hold the summer festival or not. It’s unfortunate that this is all happening when it’s a major year to mark the Festival, and I was really really looking forward to some concerts for which I’ve submitted my ticket purchases, but that shouldn’t be a reason to go ahead with it when the public health is at stake….

  • arts shall be free says:

    she is great – and Hinterhäuser and Rabl-Stadler are doing alone this very important discussion ..