Salzburg Festival set for new adventures

SALZBURG, Austria, Dominique Simon- A new chapter opens for The Salzburg Festival, the world-famous classical music, opera and drama extravaganza, when it kicks off on Friday under homegrown new artistic director Alexander Pereira.
Opening this year's 92nd festival, a highlight in the European classical music calendar running to September 2, will be Joseph Haydn's 1798 oratorio "The Creation" conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner with his Monteverdi Choir.

Salzburg Festival set for new adventures
For Austrian-born Pereira, this is the ideal opening to a festival that under his watch he wants to start focusing again on religious music, bringing it in a sense back home, the 65-year-old told AFP in an interview.
"Composers wrote their most beautiful works for churches," he said. "Salzburg, with its magnificent churches, is the logical location for a festival devoted to spiritual music."
Other performances in this vein, a kind of overture to the main programme, include works by Handel, Bruckner, Bach, Sherriff -- and of course the western Austrian city's favourite son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Pereira does not intend to limit the festival to Catholic and Protestant tradition, however, but plans to invite a different confession and its music to Salzburg every year.
In 2012, the focus will be on the Jewish faith, with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Indian Zubin Mehta returning after a four-year hiatus with works including Bruckner's "Te Deum" and Ernest Bloch's "Avodath Hakodesh."
Next year music from the Buddhish faith will be in the spotlight, followed the year after by works associated and inspired by Islam.
Other highlights among this year's 232 performances at 15 venues include a new staging of Mozart's opera "The Magic Flute" with Austrian maestro Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus Wien orchestra using period instruments.
This treat on July 27 will be first time that a major work by Mozart is performed in such a way in the city of the boy genius's birth, and will be "one of the most important events at the festival," Pereira said.
For good measure Harnoncourt will also stage a performance of Mozart's "Missa longa" in Salzburg cathedral with old tapestries hung again in an attempt to recreate the acoustics of the 18th century.
From 2013 until 2016 Pereira intends to present a world premiere of an opera every year, with all four already commissioned.
The Vienna Philharmonic will remain at the centre of the festival, with Pereira entrusting it with four opera premieres and five different concert programmes each year.
Another highlight this year with be Briton Daniel Harding conducting on July 29 a new production of Richard Strauss's one-act opera "Ariadne auf Naxos", 100 years after the original version had its world premiere, which was a flop.
Beethoven's oeuvre will be another focus of the summer, featured throughout various cycles, with performances including one by Murray Perahia as soloist with the Vienna Philharmonic under Bernard Haitink.
Andras Schiff offers both Bach's "Goldberg Variations" and Beethoven's "Diabelli Variations" on one evening, while Maurizio Pollini will play Beethoven's last three Piano Sonatas.
Contemporary music will also feature prominently, with the focus on Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Heinz Holliger and Witold Lutoslawski, whose works will be performed by the Berlin Philharmonic and the Cleveland Orchestra.
Zimmermann fans can enjoy on August 20 the premiere of a new co-production with Milan's La Scala of his only completed opera, "Die Soldaten", directed by Alvis Hermanis and conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.

Thursday, July 19th 2012
Dominique Simon

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