An embarrassment of riches the phrase is over-used, but what else to call a Festival which features performances from Anna Netrebko, Magdalena Kozena, Andreas Scholl, Jonas Kaufmann, Plcido Domingo, Juan Diego Flrez, Matthias Goerne and Thomas Quasthoff? Its almost too much theres even one day when you can hear Scholl as Caesar at 15.00 and then Kaufmann as Don Jos at 19.30.
Opera is the big draw, with no fewer than seven new productions, beginning with Die Zauberflte conducted by Harnoncourt on July 27th this is followed by Ariadne auf Naxos on the 29th, with Riccardo Chailly conducting the VPO. That will probably be the hottest ticket in town, since the Tenor and Bacchus will be sung by the Tenor God himself, Jonas Kaufmann. Kaufmann also appears in Carmen, first night August 14th, when he will be frenziedly diving at Magdalena Koen under the watchful eye of the mezzos husband, Simon Rattle.
Other operatic highlights include La Bohme, a debutant for the festival and the result of a deliberate policy by the new Intendant, Alexander Pereira, to challenge anti-Puccini prejudice: the casting of Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala ought to be a big help with that. Another stellar cast graces Giulio Cesare from August 23rd, with Andreas Scholl and Cecilia Bartoli slugging it out in those florid trills.
Theres a wonderful series of spiritual concerts of oratorios and masses, beginning with the Festivals opening performance on July 20th, Haydns Creation conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and with Lucy Crow and James Gilchrist amongst the soloists, and culminating in a Verdi Requiem (September 1st) conducted by Barenboim, with Kaufmann and Ren Pape taking on the Ingemisco and Confutatis respectively.
Orchestral concerts include performances from the Vienna Philharmonic under Haitink, Gergiev, Muti, Holliger and Jansons, as well as the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Gatti, the Cleveland under Welser-Mst and the Leipzig Gewandhaus under Chailly.
Song devotees will be in their element, with recitals from, amongst many others, Christian Gerhaher (August 10th) Matthias Goerne (15th) Thomas Quasthoff (18th) and Juan Diego Flrez (28th).
All that is even without exploring the wonderful theatre, master classes, chamber concerts and childrens events; you can get full details at Salzburg Festival.
Contrary to what you might well expect from the starry singers and conductors and the glitzy Festival ambience, tickets are not all expensive. For example, you can hear Ariadne auf Naxos or Giulio Cesare for 80 in a seat with a similar view to a side balcony one at Covent Garden.
Sounds like the best way imaginable to avoid the dreaded Olympics.