Salzburg pats itself on the back

Salzburg pats itself on the back


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2020

For once, the festival’s closing report is really pertinent. Salzburg was the first to break the clone that shut down other summer fests.

‘In this special festival year at the festival, we all created something together, which hardly anyone could expect a few weeks ago: that with a very thoughtful, smart yet no one overloading safety concept music, theatre, concerts, opera, all these wonderful things again can be possible. The tension before August 1. was very high and the six rehearsal weeks before that were quite a challenge. Who could have imagined that in Corona times an Elektra, Così would be possible again? Who could have imagined that this gathering of people would be possible again? We have told all our artists again and again that if we manage to get this summer across the stage as we imagine, we will only make it together. The behavior of the audience, which has increasingly internalized our security measures during the festival, has also contributed to this. Thus, the signal emanating from Salzburg will be the strongest, most vital and most essential to send to the world,’ says Director Markus Hinterhäuser.

‘The fact that the Salzburg Festival could even take place in 2020 was the greatest anniversary present. We were allowed to set a sign of the power of art in powerless times and were able to revive the founding idea in the most meaningful way. The Salzburg Festival was founded in 1920 in a time of great need as a courageous project against the crisis. Max Reinhardt was convinced that only art could reconcile the people who were ravaged by war against each other, yes nations. – Art not as decoration, but as food. We are overjoyed that the festival has been able to prove itself as meaningful and employer in the world that is too deeply unsettled by Corona,’ says Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler.



  • Leo Doherty says:

    I agree Salzburg did a brilliant job in producing this festival despite covid. I watched every live broadcast via Arte tv on line. Great to see a spaced out audience in attendance and much credit to everyone involved.

    • George says:

      Not to throw cold water on this but let’s see once if there are any Covid-19 outbreaks after 10-14 days. That will be the real test. They were definitely pushing against the boundaries in having a chorus sing Beethoven’s Ninth.

  • erich says:

    A huge and greatly laudable achievement. Many people – and I include myself – had grave doubts about the viability of this attempt and have been proven wrong. Let us hope that other countries – with the right security measures – will follow suit. We owe this to the large artistic community who are still suffering major mental, physical and financial hardships due to the lack of employment and the inability to practice their art.

  • Alan says:

    Well done Salzburg. Showing us all how it can be done. What a pity other countries have been so slow to get the arts moving again.

  • Derek says:

    Salzburg Festival has set a fine example.

    Excellent concerts have been available on line, as well as for the audiences that attended.

    It has shown that major works can be performed safely with audiences, and that is very encouraging for everyone!

  • MezzoLover says:

    Let’s be clear here – the fact that Salzburg Festival 2020 was able to take place despite the pandemic was due in no small part to well-coordinated and perfectly-timed support of the Austrian government, made possible no doubt by the strong influential power of Helga Rabl-Stadler.

    According to Deutsche Welle:

    “New regulations presented by Austrian Health Minister Rudolf Anschober and Andrea Mayerk, a senior culture official, on May 25 enabled the organizers to announce they were going ahead with the Salzburg Festival. Under the motto “things are looking up in the cultural sector,” they presented a timetable aimed at relaxing distancing rules. As of May 29, events with an audience of 100 people have been permitted, the auditorium can hold up to 250 people beginning July 1 and from August 1, there can be an audience of 500 and even up to 1,000 people “with a special permit.” The Festspielhaus theater in Salzburg has such a special permit…”

    When the theaters in Germany reopen after the summer break, artistic directors and concert managers may refer to the Salzburg Festival and ask why, for example, only 200 tickets are still allowed to be sold in the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, while in the Festspielhaus with its 2,400 seats up to 1,000 guests populated the tiers during the Elektra and Così performances.

  • John Ivanov says:

    Ok. The winners shall not be judged. But it’s just mere luck the festival was not unravelled by an covid-19 outbreak. No outbreak no guilt on the part of organizers?

  • Player says:

    Pretty impressive in these times! Well done them. I only wish the UK profession and institutions could compare in this respect.

  • Karl says:

    I must admit I’m jealous. Here in the US we were only able to go on with a huge motorcycle rally at Sturgis with 250,000 attending. Maybe they could have asked the bikers to bring instruments and a biker band could have played Beethoven. Murica!

  • Jackyt says:

    Juan Diego Florez gave a recital as part of the Festival, with Vincenzo Scalera at the piano. It can be see on Arte tonight at 7.30pm (BST)

  • I saw yesterday on tv the 6th of Mahler by the Winer and Andris. There was only one musician with a face mask. No distancies between musicians for this symphony Who needs a lot of people on stage

  • Elizabeth Lloyd-Davies says:

    This is an example to us all……Music and Art are an essential part of ciivilized living…..especially in times of crisis.
    The BBC Prom last night with Simon Rattle and the LSO was another triumph over adversity …….