Lucerne Festival says it’s going crazy

Lucerne Festival says it’s going crazy


norman lebrecht

December 02, 2020

press release:
Lucerne, 2 December 2020. The entirety of our social life has been altered this year, and with it how we perceive and appreciate culture: in short, all the norms have been upended and gone “crazy.” This is the theme of the 2021 Summer Festival, in the multifaceted sense of the German word for crazy (“verrückt”), which suggests going mad but also a shifting of paradigms. With the program preview to be published today, Lucerne Festival expects the summer festival to be implemented as planned….

The focus will be on innovators and revolutionaries in music history, from Bach to Boulez, as well as on such musical milestones as Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps and works that go beyond “normal” expectations, such as the symphonies of Anton Bruckner. Herbert Blomstedt and the Vienna Philharmonic will take on his Fourth, the Romantic; the Royal Concertgebouworkest under the direction of Daniel Harding will perform the Seventh; the Lucerne Festival Orchestra will present the Eighth under Yannick Nézet-Séguin; and the Ninth will be interpreted by the Staatskapelle Berlin and Daniel Barenboim. Three operas with “crazy” plots and protagonists are also on the program: Handel’s Partenope with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Tchaikovsky’s Queen of Spades with Valery Gergiev and the Mariinsky Orchestra, and Verdi’s Falstaff with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Iván Fischer.



  • Surprise the article don’t talk about Chailly normally he will be there…

    • Derek says:

      It seems there are more visiting guests and orchestras than ever.

      Chailly is giving some concerts including – Mahler 1, Rachmaninov 2 and concerto 2 with Matsuev.

  • Peter San Diego says:

    Sounds enticing; I hope the plans can be achieved. But for a season about “crazy”, the programming seems remarkably tame. Conventionally crazy, perhaps. I’d ditch the crazy-talk and keep the programme…

  • MezzoLover says:

    Normally I would pay no attention to Lucerne’s festival themes, as they can be contrived and not particularly interesting (“Power” for 2019, “Joy” for 2020, etc.) However something about the 2021 summer festival did catch my eye:

    They will be doing not one, not two, but THREE full-length operas in 2021. I believe this is a first for Lucerne.

    And while The Queen of Spades will be a concert performance, Partenope will be semi-staged and, most surprisingly, Falstaff will be a “staged performance” according to the festival website.

    How do they do that in the KKL Concert Hall, I wondered?

    Then it dawned on me – this is the same 2018 Falstaff production by Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra (even with the same cast), a production in which “the characters intertwine and react with the orchestra…they argue with the conductor, who grins and tut-tuts and, when Falstaff hits rock bottom, gives him a cloth and a cup of wine,” according to a music critic for The Sunday Times.

    Now I really have to go and see it myself!

  • John Borstlap says:

    Indeed, after times of grave disruption we need music which tried to do exactly THAT.

  • Couperin says:

    MORE Bruckner from Lucerne Festival?

  • Rodger says:

    Hmm. Sounds like they’re stretching their definition of “crazy” quite a bit to include Bruckner symphonies and whatever Bach may be planned. Typical big classical music institution: Offer up a zesty theme and then water it down with business-as-usual programming that only lightly addresses the concept at hand.

  • Stephen says:

    Can’t say 3 Bruckner symphonies seem very crazy to me. Seems like the usual stuff dressed up as something different. But it isn’t.