Just in: Salzburg says it can manage ‘a modified festival’

Just in: Salzburg says it can manage ‘a modified festival’


norman lebrecht

May 15, 2020

The specifics are unclear, but the response to this morning’s easing of federal restrictions has been instantaneous.

From the press release:

The Salzburg Festival is pleased that after long weeks without live events, this means that artists can once again invite their audiences to experience art together.

What exactly will become possible can only be explored after the ordinance has been published. After all, the old saying that “the devil is in the detail” applies particularly to the current situation. In particular, clarification is needed on the conditions under which stage rehearsals and performances by orchestras and choruses will be permissible.

The only thing that is certain is that the new health regulations mean that the Festival cannot take place as planned before the outbreak of the pandemic, both in terms of programming and duration. Therefore, the Festival will present an alternative for this extremely challenging year to the Supervisory Board on 25 May 2020. A modified Festival seems possible.

The Festival aims to publish the newly arranged programme for the summer in early June. Details on the further procedure for tickets previously purchased will be communicated to all our customers shortly and will also be published on our website.

This demonstrates that the directorate was justified to pursue a strategy of not cancelling the Festival too early, but waiting and observing the development of the pandemic, setting 30 May as the goal for decision-making.



  • almaviva says:

    They are simply ridiculous!

  • MezzoLover says:

    Comparing what is happening in Austria vs. Germany, I am reminded of the famous anecdote of a joint Prussian-Austrian operation in WWI:

    The Prussian officer sends a dispatch back to headquarters with the message, “Die Lage ist ernst, aber nicht hoffnungslos” (the situation is serious but not hopeless). The Austrian commander sends back the message “Die Lage ist hoffnungslos, aber nicht Ernst.” (The situation is hopeless but not serious).

    And, as the oft-used Austrian saying goes: “Keine Sorge, wird schon schiefgehen” (Don’t worry, things are bound to turn out wrong).

    I do, however, wish them success in staging the 100th edition of the Salzburg Festival this summer, if indeed that turns out to be their final decision.

    • Lausitzer says:

      That Austrian saying is popular in Germany, too. Like the situation being hopeless but not serious.

      The bold move by Wiesbaden has, I think, been reported here. And others could soon have something to announce for the coming weeks as well, if they find that they can handle te circumstances at short notice. Whispering about “unfamiliar and surprising formats” could already be heard.

      Other suggestions for a scenario of the situation being in one year from now, and maybe throughout the whole of 2021, just as hopeless but not serious than now? Let’s just wind up and dissolve everything?

  • Jonathan says:

    I am a singer working in Austria. I should be singing this summer in the chorus of the Salzburg Festival — a well-paid gig I have had for the past several years. It’s a lot of work and music, but an honor to be able to stand on stage for one of the leading arts festivals.

    I am very disappointed with this “wait and see” decision.
    First and foremost, nothing has been communicated with us about if we will be paid if our performances are cancelled and/or how we will be kept safe during rehearsals and/or performances. Anybody who has worked in theaters knows chorus members are packed into dressing rooms like sardines.

    If somebody from the chorus/orchestra/stage crew/etc. tests positive for COVID will the entire production (i.e. everybody who has had contact with him or her) have to self-quartentine for 14 days? How will a situation like this be handled?

    I have signed a contract for an apartment for my time in Salzburg that I need to cancel ASAP or I face paying a fee.

    While Ms. Netrebko and Mr. Domingo can probably survive if their fees are withheld or reduced, many chorus members count on the income from Salzburg. We need to know as soon as possible if we are being paid or not, so we can look for other possible summer jobs (which will be harder to find than in previous years).

    I respect the predicament the Festival finds itself in, but the leadership of the Festival has a responsibility to its artists as well as the Salzburg economy.

    • V.Lind says:

      Of course people in proximity will be quarantined if they are working beside someone who turns out to have Covid. What do you imagine — they will just tell you to go forth and spread some more?

      You have enumerated, at some length, your concerns, but are whingeing that you have not been given every detail since this decision was taken — what, an hour ago? Do you not grasp that the problems the organisers face are proportionately somewhat greater, hence the delay, so far, in informing you?

      The logistics, not to mention the liabilities, involved are massive. I don’t think they should do it, but their government says they may, under restrictions all of which you may not yet be aware of. So either make a decision on your own or live with theirs — but use your head. As someone has posted below, the proximity of choruses may not be on the cards.

      • anon says:

        It would be highly reckless of the Festival to make the decision to go ahead before determining the logistics of how they might hold a full opera with massed chorus, or to what extent they will need to reprogram their offerings. I think the original poster is very reasonable on all points.

      • ProMusician says:

        Are you self employed? Are you a self employed musician? I doubt it as you’ve no empathy for someone who is. Staring these financial losses in the face is a scary prospect, so a little clarity from a festival that’s employing you is not much to ask for. Particularly if they’re (the festival) happy to peacock and strut about for the press at the moment.

    • Donald says:

      Shame on every idiot that voted this post down.

    • RagnarDanneskjoeld says:

      Jonathan, the festival has just been informed about the requirements it has to meet. It takes several days to come up with solutions how to organize a scaled-down festival at all. I think everyone here understands your problem – I certainly do – but I presume the people in charge want to max out their options, staging as many performances as possible so you and your colleagues might have a gig after all.

      • Edgar Self says:

        Ragnar Danneskjoeld — wonderful name — perhaps not The Destroyer after all? Maybe we can spare a few of those gold bars for Singer Jonathan that you are holding in Hank Reardon’s account, while Atlas looks on and shrugs. But, then, who is John Galt?

  • Dejan says:

    I do not believe that they will be able to do any regular opera performance. With singers/choruses and full orchestration. Maybe some smaller format… But to risk a renewed outbreak, I do not think authorities will allow it.

  • George says:

    It is great to see they try and I wish them every possible success. We should support them.

  • Tamino says:

    ah well, maybe just call the whole thing off and give some recommendations for quarantine literature and recordings.
    Some outdoor events will be realistically possible, that’s it. Not much more will be feasible.
    Worth it?
    See you in 2021!
    Keep your spirits up.

  • Merville says:

    Le comportement de la direction du Festival de Salzbourg est irresponsable et irrespectueuse à l’égard du public et des artistes.

  • Edgar Self says:

    It’s a start and very welcome good news.

  • Jane says:

    Not my dreams! #Kaufmann ❤❤

  • Pamela Brown says:

    I have to wonder what Wolf would say. All this fuss, in a place he didn’t really like…

  • fflambeau says:

    Moneymaking trumps reason.

    It’s also why Mozart’s birthplace has turned him into a chocolate salesman. He was wise to leave.