“For love is strong as death”
in keeping with this motto, the 2008 Salzburg Festival explored the relationship between love and death, in opera, drama and concert. The programs of this 2008 season enabled the Festival to generate revenues of 25,100,000 Euros, achieving another financial record – the highest revenues, second only to the Mozart Year of 2006 – from over 200 events, which received lots of applause. Some boos too, but those are the spice of success.
What will we think back upon? Claus Guth’s woods for Don Giovanni, in which the love-hungry figures searched for each other desperately? And which ended in a miserable death? A young Otello and his masterly conductor, Riccardo Muti? Villazón’s Romeo and Machaidze’s Julia, inspired by Yannick Nézet-Séguin to move the audience to storms of applause? The Bartók evening, so grandiosely conducted by Peter Eötvös, ingeniously decorated by German painter Daniel Richter and wisely directed in such a condensed manner by Johan Simons? The Magic Flute by Appel, Audi and Muti? Or Rusalka with our guests from Cleveland, compellingly conducted by Franz Welser-Möst; what fairy-tale country of their own devising did Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito lead us to? And finally, what a heavenly nonsensical finale Mnozil Brass, the creators of the opera Irmingard, provided!Not everything was equally successful, but how could it be. Alfred Brendel’s farewell concert was unforgettable, just like Pollini’s art. And the Brahms Requiem with the Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna’s State Opera Chorus and Riccardo Muti, and many comparable concerts.
Continent Sciarrino was densely populated, with Luci mie traditrici as the central focus, carefully staged by Rebecca Horn. Thus, this important work made its way to Salzburg. After Schumann, this year the Schubert Scenes were a worthy successor. And after the touching visit of Daniel Barenboim’s West-Eastern Divan Orchestra last year, this year, we were able to admire the unique project of the Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra.
Nicolas Stemann’s quirky Robbers raged across the Perner-Insel stage, the quiet Harper Regan stumbled through her small-scale life. Andrea Breth brilliantly unfolded Dostoyevsky’s tour de force Crime and Punishment. Needcompany presented its trilogy, and Vanessa Redgrave’s monologue The Year of Magical Thinking moved many of us to tears. Pamuk and Dinev were wise poets in residence.
And youth! The children’s chorus, the young singers and directors, music camps, children’s concerts. Discussions, conversations and so much more, beautiful evenings and encounters, and also cheerful parties and thousands on the Kapitelplatz, watching our performances on large-scale screens. All this forms a wonderful mosaic of the Salzburg Festival, which enthralled so many of our audience members.