Opera + Classical Music Features

Preview: Salzburg Festival 2019


Salzburg (Photo: Marc Eskenazi)

In the beautiful surroundings of Ely House, now the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, just around the corner from the Royal Academy in London, the team from the Salzburg Festival introduced next year’s programme – and what a programme it is, with something for every taste. Salzburg keeps its position as the Summer Festival with the most prestige, the grandest and most spectacular surroundings and the most ‘starry’ performers – all at a price of course. They certainly know how to host a party – pink fizz and artsy canapés go down very well, especially when there’s a brief recital by Christopher Maltman and Simon Lepper, to whet our appetites for the production of Oedipe in which Maltman sings the title role.

Those who chose to scarper before the Schubert and Wolf missed a real treat – three songs based on Myth, the overall ‘theme’ of the 2019 festival, all sung with tremendous panache by a baritone who seems to get better every time one hears him. His ‘Prometheus’ was as compelling as his ‘Anakreon’s Grab’ was subtle, and Simon Lepper gave him outstanding support.

So, always supposing one can afford it, what looks special this year? The stand-out staging, for us, has to be Idomeneo, directed by Peter Sellars, with the Freiburger Barockorchester conducted by Teodor Currentzis and with set design by George Tsypin. Those fortunate enough to have seen the Sellars / Tsypin Theodora at Glyndebourne will know how striking the combination of these two can be. Sellars spoke on screen about his view of Mozart’s work – he sees it as the ‘music of the future’ in its time, and relates it to our present day problems; his enthusiasm for Mozart’s achievement in creating a complete ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ such as had not been seen since the time of Monteverdi, was extremely infectious.

Cherubini’s Médéé follows, with Sonya Yoncheva in the title role, and then Handel’s Alcina directed by Damiano Michieletto, starrily cast with Cecilia Bartoli as Alcina and Philippe Jaroussky as Ruggiero.

Oedipe is the central production, with musical direction from Ingo Metzmacher and staging by Achim Freyer – as well as Maltman in the title role, it stars John Tomlinson as Tirésias. As with Médéé, the Wiener Philharmoniker will be in the pit. A total contrast, but on the same quasi-mythological subject, is Offenbach’s Orphée aux Enfers which will be directed by Barrie Kosky (his Saul for Glyndebourne will be fondly remembered by many) and with the Wiener Philharmoniker conducted by Enrique Mazzola.

Veering slightly away from the mythological theme, there will be two Verdi operas – Simon Boccanegra with Luca Salsi in the title part and with the WP conducted by Valery Gergiev, and Luisa Miller with Nino Machaidze as Luisa and Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo. Two more productions will be desirable for their star sopranos – Adriana Lecouvreur featuring Anna Netrebko, and Salome with the soprano ‘du jour,’ Asmik Grigorian.

The orchestral and chamber music offerings impress, as always, and the Liederabende include Christian Gerhaher, Matthias Goerne and Diana Damrau. Igor Levit, Maxim Vengerov and Maurizio Pollini are amongst the soloists. The WP begins its concerts with Mahler’s 9th conducted by Herbert Blomstedt, and follows with performances conducted by Franz Welser-Möst, Riccardo Muti, Daniel Barenboim and Bernard Haitink.

For more information, visit: www.salzburg.info/en/salzburg/salzburg-festival/salzburg-festival

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