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100 Years of The Salzburg Festival

1920 - 2020: 100 years of the “Salzburg Festival”

In summer 2020, the Salzburg Festival will celebrate its centenary, with a view to its history, the European idea of the founders, and the future.

On the 21st August 1920, Europe was marked by the First World War, peace was still young and the old continent was looking for a new order. In Salzburg, the calls of “Everyman” resounded for the first time around the Cathedral Square. With the performance of the “Morality of life and death of the rich man”, the idea of the festival from the spiritual founding fathers Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt became a reality. In the Mozart City of Salzburg, far away from the hectic hustle and bustle, “in the heart of the heart of Europe”, the best artists are to meet every summer to bring opera and drama to the stage. These are to be “Of both the highest”, as Max Reinhardt wrote in 1917 in the founding script. This music and theatre festival, which opened with the “Everyman” performance on 22nd August 1920 is now one of the most prestigious in the world. What makes the Salzburg Festival so unique is the combination of opera, drama and concert on an incomparably high level.

The Festival Legend – “Quality is our Manifesto”

The Salzburg Festival is unique and is one of the most renowned and important music and theatre festivals in the world. From its moment of birth, one value has been explicitly committed to – quality! International stage stars, art connoisseurs and celebrities from politics, business and art all come together in Salzburg year after year and contribute to a very special atmosphere in the city. This “metamorphosis of time” takes place in the spirit of the founding fathers, whose express wish was that “The whole city is a stage” to receive the whole world here in Salzburg.

This idea of the extraordinary has proved to be viable, as the Salzburg Festival is now one of the most important festivals. Even the expectation that audiences from all around the world would be interested in the festival as an “epicentre of extraordinary”, as the current director Markus Hinterhäuser calls it, has also been fulfilled. The Salzburg Festival will celebrate its 100th birthday, despite the unique circumstances in 2020, with 90 performances. The two operatic highlights will be Strauss’ “Elektra” and Mozart’s “Così fan tutte”.

Jedermannaufführung vor dem Dom - Buhlschaft in rotem Kleid und Jedermann© Tourism Salzburg, Everyman in front of the Cathedral

The Salzburg Festival 2020 opens with Elektra by Richard Strauss

In 2020, the Salzburg Festival will begin its centenary with a work that played a major role in the lives of all three festival founders – Richard Strauss, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Max Reinhardt. It will be directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski, who made his successful debut at the Salzburg Festival at the Felsenreitschule in 2018 with Hans Werner Henze’s “The Bassarids”. Franz Welser-Möst, to whom the Salzburg Festival owes many unforgettable performances of the works of Richard Strauss, conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and the Vienna State Opera Choir Concert Association. The role of Elektra is played by the Lithuanian rising star Ausrine Stundyte. Tanja Ariane Baumgartner sings the Klytämnestra, Michael Laurenz is Aegisth and Derek Welton takes on the role of Orest. And Chrysothemis is Asmik Grigorian, who thrilled audiences and critics as Salome in 2018. In this jubilee year, she returns with Strauss to the Felsenreitschule. The premiere is on 1st August 2020.

Instead of the originally planned 200 performances over 44 days at 16 venues, the new program will now have 110 performances over 30 days at 8 venues. All performances from the anniversary programme, which cannot be shown in 2020, are to be shown in 2021. The anniversary programme will begin with the opening of The National Exhibition at the end of July 2020 and will not finish until the following year on 31st August 2021.

Tips for the 2020 Jubilee Summer

  • “Great World Theatre – 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival” Exhibition
    From 25th April to 31st October, the Salzburg Museum is hosting a provincial exhibition in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the Salzburg Festival with “Great World Theatre – 100 Years of the Salzburg Festival”. The exhibition in the Neue Residenz is designed as a “stage play in the museum” and in addition to a chronology of the festival, it presents documents, stories and original pieces from productions over the course of the last 100 years, which are designed in such a way that visitors can really get to know the Salzburg Festival. www.salzburgmuseum.at
  • Siemens Festival>Nights
    During the festival season, the curtains go up daily from 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. for the popular “Siemens Festival>Nights” on the Kapitelplatz in Salzburg’s Old Town. The programme includes audio presentations of concerts as well as opera and “Everyman” productions from past festival years, as well as current new productions, including live broadcasts of premieres from the Festival Halls. Admission is free, and the programme is scheduled for the end of June. www.siemens.at/festspielnaechte
  • “Everyman” Day
    “Everyman” is at the centre of attention with a big “Everyman Day” on 22nd August 2020 which pays tribute to this piece whose premier on 22nd August 1920 marked the birth of The Salzburg Festival. In addition, there is an extraordinary “Everyman” reading in the Felsenreitschule, a festive performance at the Cathedral Square and a banquet with a huge “Everyman” board in the streets and on the squares of the festival district.www.salzburgerfestspiele.at
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