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DAILY #30 - 30 AUGUST 2008

Utopia Unto Death

The Berlin Philharmonic and its Chief Conductor Sir Simon Rattle provide the final touchstone for the Salzburg Festival 2008, revisiting the thematic extremes of this summer: love and death.

In keeping with this year’s motto, “For love is strong as death”, the Berlin Philharmonic serves up a strong love potion in the shape of two major and seminal compositions: Richard Wagner’s Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde and Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla Symphony. Both works proved to be epoch-making – and in both cases, an unhappy love, impossible due to external circumstances, provided the inner motivation. “At once a love song, a hymn to joy, time, movement, rhythm, live and death,” that is how Olivier Messiaen deciphers the title of his monumental composition, Turangalîla Symphony, which combines two nearly untranslatable words from Sanskrit.

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DAILY #29 - 29 AUGUST 2008

Color and Sound Art

With Daniel Richter, Rebecca Horn and Karel Appel, the Salzburg Festival had three world-class protagonists of fine art on their roster this year. The tradition of engaging major artists for stage projects in the Festival town goes back to Max Reinhardt. Daily offers an overview of this tradition.

The Salzburg Festival has had an impressive fine arts track record since the 1990s: in 1992, Eduardo Arroyo designed sets and costumes for Janácˇek’s From the House of the Dead. In 1993, US artist Robert Longo was the set designer for Mozart’s Lucio Silla. In 1994, the prince among painters Jörg Immendorff designed sets and costumes for Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress. In 1999, Jaume Plensa created a large sculpture for the spectacular production of Berlioz’s La damnation de Faust by the Catalan ensemble La Fura dels Baus.

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DAILY #28 - 28 AUGUST 2008

Salzburg 2008 in Review

Sadly, this beautiful summer is over. Our doors are closed again – and this season too will be a memory: more than 200 events, operas, theater and concerts, all rewarded by hearty applause. There were 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!

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DAILY #27 - 27 AUGUST 2008

Empowering Youth with Music!

The Salzburg Festival offered an unprecedented program for children and teenagers this year. Artistic Director Jürgen Flimm, Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler and Business Director Gerbert Schwaighofer report.

At a time when schools and parents increasingly fail in the area of arts education, we want to offer an alternative – with our special ticket offers for young people, with children’s concerts, the activities of the Young Friends and opera camps for children and teenagers,” Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler is convinced of the necessity for action.

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DAILY #26 - 26 AUGUST 2008

Diving Fearlessly into Her Roles

Martina Gedeck is currently on stage in Salzburg as Harper Regan in Simon Stephens’s play of the same title. She spoke to Daily about the difference between movies and theater and the easy atmosphere at the Festival.

As an actor, you just have to dive into another element – just like a fish jumps into water because it cannot swim on land,” says German actress Martina Gedeck. At the Salzburg Festival, the water she is swimming in is a thicket of family catastrophes and insecurity.

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DAILY #25 - 24 AUGUST 2008

700 Concerts, 2,000 Operas

The Vienna Philharmonic and Salzburg: Clemens Hellsberg, President of the Orchestra, reports on a long-term intimate connection with a high emotional value between the Festival city and Vienna’s master orchestra.

In the history of the Vienna Philharmonic, Salzburg holds a special position: this is the first place the orchestra performed outside of Vienna, in 1877; a first continuity was established with its participation in six Salzburg Music Festivals before 1910; in 1922, the orchestra’s first guest appearance at the Salzburg Festival took place, and since 1925, its appearances at the Festival have become a fixture in its calendar.

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DAILY #24 - 23 AUGUST 2008

Finally, Qualified Personnel!

Mnozil Brass and Bernd Jeschek have invented Irmingard for the Salzburg Festival. It is the brass ensemble’s first opera project with the author and director. But read for yourself.

Bertl, the handsome prince from Melk, is hit by Cupid’s bow and falls in love with Irmingard, the emperor’s daughter. She, however, spurns the suitor, thus angering the emperor, who wants to finally retire, so much that he has her thrown into the darkest of his dungeons.

Bertl is consumed by his love for her, and it dawns upon her that she has not made the smartest move. May we hope for a happy end, or will the force of destiny sweep both of them into the abyss?”

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DAILY #23 - 22 AUGUST 2008

Resounding Miracle

The Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra and Gustavo Dudamel are the resounding proof of everything music can achieve. From August 22 to 29, the young musicians will be in residency at the Salzburg Festival, giving samples of their art in a great variety of events.

The very freshest wind in classical music is currently blowing in from the wide West: in Gustavo Dudamel and his Simón Bolívar Youth Orchestra, the lovers and cognoscenti of Western art now have living proof that music does not only make children smart and socially competent, but also prevents violence, fights poverty and unemployment, and on top of all that, can integrate itself without problems into established festivals, and moreover, may be instrumentalized in favor of given political power structures.

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DAILY #22 - 21 AUGUST 2008

Human Elements – “In Yer Face”

Simon Stephens is considered one of the most successful English playwrights today. In the German-language region, theaters are clamoring to perform his pieces. In Salzburg, Stephens’s latest hit, Harper Regan, will have its German-language premiere.

For a while now, the plays of Simon Stephens, born in 1971 in a provincial town in the Midlands and living in London today, have been transported to the stages of the European mainland immediately after their premieres. Last fall, the German-language premiere even took place before an English one: Pornography, a piece full of the fearful atmosphere after the London underground attacks, was premiered at the Hamburg Schauspielhaus and immediately nominated as a participant to the renowned Berlin Theater Summit.

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DAILY #21 - 20 AUGUST 2008

Without Sponsors, Not Even Papageno Would Have Feathers

“Who finances the Festival?” is a question that is answered differently, depending on one’s political point of view.

The No.1 source of income is the ticket buyer: half of the budget, i.e. 24.7 million Euros in 2007, consists of box office revenues. This is unique among European cultural institutions.

Fortunately, No. 2 is the state: the Festival receives about 10.4 million Euros out of the federal, state and communal budgets. The fact that the Festival pays about 12.2 million Euros in taxes and fees, however, means that it creates the revenue that pays its subsidies itself. In addition, it creates an overall economic effect of about 227 million Euros in income from production and services.

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DAILY #20 - 19 AUGUST 2008

Late, Miraculous Bartók

The Béla Bartók Series at this year’s Festival is approaching one of its highlights with the residency of the Cleveland Orchestra. Conducted by its Chief Conductor Franz Welser-Möst, the traditional US orchestra interprets three central works by the great Hungarian composer.

The Cleveland Orchestra is blazing new trails under its Music Director Franz Welser-Möst. The goal is to give not just short concerts away from home, but to have longer residencies, in order to offer audiences the highest quality possible. This concept is being implemented in Salzburg, where the musicians are not just in the orchestra pit for Dvořák's Rusalka, but also perform three concerts. Apart from works by Mahler, Schubert, Berg, Dvořák and Messiaen, three major compositions by Hungarian Béla Bartók form the centerpiece of these programs.

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DAILY #19 - 17 AUGUST 2008

Love amid Will-o’-the-Wisps

With his penultimate opera, 60-year-old Antonín Dvořák finally achieved a lasting musical theater success: his Rusalka, first performed in 1901, became the most popular Czech opera, tied with Smetana’s Bartered Bride. In Salzburg, Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito are staging the work under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst.

Without doubt, Rusalka is the most important version of the Romantic mermaid myth on the opera stage, in spite of E.T.A. Hoffmann and Albert Lortzing’s well-made Undine opera or the highly interesting Rusalka by the Russian Dargomyzhsky.

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DAILY #18 - 15 AUGUST 2008

Secrets of One of the Greatest

Riccardo Muti reminisces about Herbert von Karajan, who would have been 100 years old this year, in a conversation with Walter Dobner, and tells of his encounters with his great role model and supporter.

Sono Karajan,” Riccardo Muti heard from the phone. A perfect surprise. Could it really be Karajan who had found him here in Raleigh, North Carolina, in the midst of his farewell tour with the Philharmonia Orchestra London? Karajan immediately proceeded to business: “I would like to invite you for Così fan tutte in Salzburg in 1982.” Muti was dumbfounded.

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DAILY #17 - 14 AUGUST 2008

An Impossible Freedom

Nicolas Stemann has studied Friedrich von Schiller’s youthful hit The Robbers. At the Perner-Insel, his “concert of words” about self-encounters and freedom that is based upon it is being performed.

I never bothered with trivialities,” says Franz Moor towards the end of the drama. To bother with trivialities is not anything director Nicolas Stemann is planning to do either when he tells the story of Karl and Franz Moor at the Perner-Insel, a story invented and written down by Friedrich Schiller in 1781 and entitled The Robbers.

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DAILY #16 - 13 AUGUST 2008

The Colorful Feathery Joy of the Catch

Mozart’s Zauberflöte returns to Salzburg in the fascinating, colorful designs by Karel Appel. Riccardo Muti takes the podium to conduct the Vienna Philharmonic, Pierre Audi is the director.

Is Die Zauberflöte a hodgepodge? – This question was posed somewhat provocatively by the magazine Zeit und Kritik in the Seventies of the past century. Basically, our answer must still be Yes, if it means an amalgam that combines apparently disparate elements and still results in a homogenous whole. Like few others, Mozart’s last opera seems to combine extremely different elements, which together turned into one of the greatest hits in the history of opera.

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DAILY #15 - 12 AUGUST 2008

“Eleven amazing protégés!”

Welcome to the Young Singers Project: this year is the first time that eleven singers at the beginning of their careers will have the chance to perfect their art in public master classes, concerts and in the midst of the Festival’s daily life. The project is made possible by Montblanc International.

A look back: it is two days before the Festival opens. But for eleven young singers, the serious part has already begun. They have been selected through international auditions to participate in the first Young Singers Project (YSP), organized by the Salzburg Festival and Montblanc.

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DAILY #14 - 10 AUGUST 2008

“I am just the instrument”

Vanessa Redgrave at the Salzburg Festival: at the Landestheater, she is on stage in The Year of Magical Thinking; she reads poems from Guantánamo with Jürgen Flimm, and talks to David Hare about art and politics.

Vanessa Redgrave, wrote the doyen of U.S. film critics, Roger Ebert, is the rare case of an actress who keeps improving with age. One doesn’t wish to contradict him, even though the Englishwoman’s movie career actually began with a singular series of successes: her first leading role in Protest by Karel Reisz brought her the 1966 Acting Prize of the Cannes Festival, followed by a second one in 1968 for Reisz’s dance biography Isadora. Between the two, Redgrave played a model in Michelangelo Antonioni’s cult art mystery Blowup, personifying Swinging London. She was the figurehead of the angry young English movies of the Sixties; and her connection with director Tony Richardson was fruitful not only in a professional sense: she had two daughters from this marriage, which lasted from 1962 to 1967, Natasha and Joely Richardson – both have long since embarked on successful acting careers of their own.

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DAILY #13 - 09 AUGUST 2008

“Different From All the Others”

With seven concerts, a scenic production and a puppet play, this year’s Continents series is dedicated to the Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino.

Continent Sciarrino sponsored by Roche
 
I think every composer starts off as a dilettante and is shaped by wide variety of influences and models. That was the case with me as well, though I only became aware of it after a first period of discoveries: I have to compose differently than everyone else. Nevertheless, I liked composers such as Schoenberg and Webern. Unlike the postwar serial composers, who laid themselves open to the accusation that the logic of their structures eludes perception, and that their music thus tended to become a private matter, in the work of Schoenberg and even in Webern the structure and perception are not so far apart. But when I was starting to compose, the discussion of serialism was in full swing.

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DAILY #12 - 08 AUGUST 2008

A Question Mark at the End

Director Christian Stückl, a specialist for folk theater and passion plays, has gently brought Salzburg’s traditional play Jedermann by Hugo von Hofmannsthal into the 21st century. He spoke to Daily about his experiences in Salzburg, about tradition and faith.

Daily: How often have you directed Hofmannsthal’s Jedermann?

Stückl: This is the seventh year for my version of Jedermann. I did take two years off: I was in charge of Jedermann in 2002, 2003, 2004 as well as 2007 and 2008. So for me, this is the fifth year.

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DAILY #11 - 07 AUGUST 2008

Rather Inhibited, Even Uptight

Bertolt Brecht and the Salzburg Festival. On the occasion of the premiere of Brecht’s The Measures Taken, Hans Widrich recounts how Gottfried von Einem’s attempt to put the German poet in charge of the Festival’s drama division and to make him an Austrian failed.

For decades, there has been philosophizing about Bertolt Brecht and the Salzburg Festival. The reactionary forces on the Salzach failed once again when they had the chance to install great modern theater here. This is only half the truth. Both the Education Minister Hans Pernter and the Governor of Salzburg Josef Rehrl, both members of the ÖVP, welcomed the plan of a lasting association with the revolutionary poet. The idea was born in Switzerland. The Festival’s conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler was pushing the young Austrian composer Gottfried von Einem to become the Salzburg Festival’s reformer. Von Einem knew Brecht, who had moved to the safety of Switzerland after dangerous political charges because of suspected communism had been brought against him in the USA.

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DAILY #10 - 06 AUGUST 2008

Seven Doors, Nine Stags

Duke Bluebeard’s Castle is the scenic centerpiece of the Béla Bartók Series. Johan Simons directs the scenic production of Bartók’s only opera – the second in the history of the Salzburg Festival – with Falk Struckmann and Michelle DeYoung.

The Hungarian poet Béla Balázs, author of the drama At Duke Bluebeard’s Castle, described the composer Béla Bartók in his diary as “a naïve, awkward 25-year-old Wunderkind”. Balázs, who was born in 1884 as Herbert Bauer to a Hungarian Jewish family, but soon gave up his German name because of his enthusiasm for nationalism, was Zoltán Kodály’s roommate at a teacher’s training college in Budapest. Since Balázs was also interested in Hungarian folk songs, Kodály introduced his roommate to Bartók in 1906.

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DAILY #9 - 05 AUGUST 2008

Rosamunde in a Summer Night’s Forest

Schauspielmusik, incidental music or music for plays, is the genre that the Camerata Salzburg explores in its concerts this year. Conducted by Marc Minkowski and with well-known soloists, Helmina von Chézy’s Rosamunde and Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as set by Franz Schubert and Felix Mendelssohn will be performed at the Mozarteum.

 Peer Gynt has already taken his musical voyage at the Haus für Mozart, in the shape of the piece by Edvard Grieg written for Henrik Ibsen’s drama. The remarkable thing about this composition is that Henrik Ibsen had conceived the story of the young Norwegian with the many identities as a reading drama. Only when Edvard Grieg’s music had been written did he dare to stage the complex narrative with its many places of action.

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DAILY #8 - 03 AUGUST 2008

“I Will Sting You”

Salvatore Sciarrino’s opera Luci mie traditrici is the scenic centerpiece of the Continent Sciarrino series. German artist Rebecca Horn visualizes the Italian composer’s masterwork with her art.

Scene 8, a bedchamber: in the dialogue between the duchess and the duke, talk of love is now replaced by death. Murder of the duchess, end of the opera.” Thus, the last scene of Luci mie traditrici, performed as part of the Continents series, dedicated this year to Salvatore Sciarrino and supported by Roche, could be summed up briefly.

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DAILY #7 - 02 AUGUST 2008

Juliette Dances, Georgian-Style

Nino Machaidze performs the role of Gounod’s Juliette, opposite Rolando Villazón as Roméo. She spoke to Daily about her career, still in its early stages, the Italian opera tradition of her homeland and the gracefulness of Georgian folk dances.

Daily: When did you know that you wanted to be an opera singer?

Machaidze: I started to play the piano at the age of six, and I have been singing since I was eight years old. I wanted to be an opera singer even when I was a little girl. First, I went to the music school, and at the age of 17 I transferred to the conservatory.

Daily: How come you wanted to be an opera singer even as a child? Is your family a family of musicians?

Machaidze: No. But there is a great tradition of music-making in Georgia. There is a piano in every house, and the children are all sent to music school. We Georgians are a very musical people. There is singing, music-making and dancing everywhere. The folk tradition is kept up. Especially the Georgian folk dances are wonderful, very elegant, feminine and refined in their movements. This form of expression helps me on stage too!

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DAILY #6 - 01 AUGUST 2008

In the Iron Clutches of Love and Jealousy

Director Stephen Langridge presents his own view of Verdi’s multi-faceted late work Otello. Riccardo Muti conducts the new production. As the lovers Otello and Desdemona, the young singers Aleksandrs Antonenko and Marina Poplavskaya make their Festival debuts.

An intimate and clear-eyed exploration of the feeling of jealousy,” that is what Stephen Langridge calls Giuseppe Verdi’s dramma lirico in four acts, Otello.

The late masterwork by Verdi and his congenial librettist Arrigo Boito is a multi-faceted concept and unfolds its cruel plot on various levels. First of all, it is “the story of an unconventional love – unconventional because Otello and Desdemona have to leave their respective cultures behind in order to come together,” the director says. “Otello has given up his language, his religion, his culture, and still finds himself an outsider.” Desdemona too has broken lose from her noble family in order to marry Otello against her father’s wishes, “a great break with convention.”

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DAILY #5 - 31 JULY 2008

Strange Tricks of Memory

The Young Directors Project goes in search of reconstructed experiences. The first piece to be presented is the world premiere of Marius von Mayenburg’s latest work, Der Stein (The Stone).

1993. Finally, Heidrun Heising is able to return to her parents’ house in Dresden, together with her mother and daughter. But with the move come the memories of decisive turning points in her life: in 1935, a Jewish family sells the house to the Heisings in order to finance their escape from Germany; the end of the war in 1945 coincides with the town’s destruction by fire and her father’s death; in 1953, mother and daughter flee from the GDR. And after the fall of the Wall, the family legend of her father, who was supposed to have been in the resistance and saved a Jewish family, starts to crumble.

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DAILY #4 - 30 JULY 2008

Veiled Girls and Angels’ Tongues

In Orhan Pamuk and Dimitré Dinev, this year two writers with very different œuvres and extraordinary life experiences take up residence at the Festival. Readings and public conversations give audiences an insight into their work.

For a whole lot of girls in our situation, the wish to commit suicide symbolizes gaining control over their own bodies” – this is a sentence the veil-wearing girl Hande speaks in Orhan Pamuk’s novel Snow, published in 2002 (German version: 2005). The description of the circumstances of Hande’s life is one of the most depressing moments of the book. The main thing the protagonist Ka, coming from the West, notices is the conflict that the girls live in – the pressure from society to take off the veil, and the pressure from their families or Islamic groups to cover up. Through his obsession with details and his imaginative poetry, Pamuk reveals modern Turkey to the reader – and its struggle to find a way out of the tension between Westernization and fundamentalism. He does this without any black-and-white characterization; his novels feature the voices of very different groups: Islamists, Turkish nationalists, Kurdish nationalists, the church, the army, various ethnic groups and also Islamic fundamentalists. But it is not just the journeys into foreign circumstances that make Pamuk so popular as an author, it is also his humor: he tells of clashing philosophies with a wink, of the practical wisdom and courage of everyday people.

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DAILY #3 - 29 JULY 2008

When War Knocks on the Door

Jan Lauwers, all-round artist, theater director and mastermind of the Flemish Needcompany, presents the third part of a trilogy with The Deer House – commissioned by the Salzburg Festival. He spoke to Daily about his way of working, about positive conflicts and about war, which is closer than we think.

I am restless. I cannot find peace with myself if I’m only dealing with one medium. Even though there may be a very subjective hierarchy in my head,” says Jan Lauwers. Born in 1957 in Antwerp, Lauwers is at home in innumerable genres: he paints, takes photographs, draws, puts together installations and creates sculptural objects, he writes, makes music and creates theatrical works.

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DAILY #2 - 28 JULY 2008

Wounded Humanity in Real Time

With Don Giovanni, director Claus Guth and costume and set designer Christian Schmidt continue their Mozart-Da Ponte cycle in Salzburg. In their production, they try to bring the myth of Don Giovanni down to earth, to ground him in humanity.

Real or fictional? Human being or myth? No other figure symbolizes the instinctual and impetuous as much as Don Juan. In 1613, thanks to Tirso de Molina, he first walked upon a stage – and it is not certain whether this was an invention of Spanish popular imagination or a real figure after all. Some sources see the model for Don Juan in a certain Don Juan Tenorio from Seville, a seducer and hedonist from the times of King Pedro I, also known as Pedro the Cruel, who reigned from 1350 to 1369. After having murdered the governor of Seville, Don Juan Tenorio was lured into an abbey by the monks and executed. In order to hide the deed, the rumor was spread that the statue on the grave of the murdered man had taken revenge.

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DAILY #1 - 27 JULY 2008

“If Music be the Food of Love, Play On!”

On July 26 at 11 a.m., this year’s Salzburg Festival’s opening ceremony was held. In her keynote address, German writer Elke Heidenreich examines the potency of love and death, and invokes the power of art. Excerpts from the speech.

The motto of this year’s Salzburg Festival claims: “For love is strong as death.” This means that death may be strong, but an all-encompassing love is equally strong. I have my doubts about that. Love not only loves wandering, but love itself changes, love cannot be held, forced, and at the doors of death, all earthly love must end, we pass through a gate and nobody has ever returned from there, it does not matter how love bangs on the gate with tears and fists. And so I think: For death is stronger than love…

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