Salzburg Easter Festival

The pull of the South: The 2024 Salzburg Easter Festival is luring us to Italy

The Easter Festival, one of the most interesting and best classical music festivals worldwide, will take place for the second time under Artistic Director Nikolaus Bachler from March 22 to April 1, 2024. This year's program is inspired by the Mediterranean south.

At the beginning of April, Salzburg is transformed into the classical music meeting place for music lovers. The Salzburg Easter Festival, one of the most attractive and best classical music festivals in the world, will take place from March 22 to April 1, 2024. Here you will find all details about the Easter Festival.

For the 2024 Salzburg Easter Festival, Intendant Nikolaus Bachler will present a programme inspired by the Mediterranean South – with Italy at its heart. “We are all united by a longing for the South: for sun, light and broad horizons. At the 2024 Salzburg Easter Festival, we will therefore be embarking on a journey through Italy, the cradle of opera”, says Nikolaus Bachler. “We are inviting artists from Rome, the Eternal City, to come to Salzburg, for this city has enjoyed several centuries of close links with Italy: through the Church, through music, and through a theatrical, playful attitude to life itself.”

The Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia from Rome, together with its long-standing Chief Conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, will open the Easter Festival with a new production of Amilcare Ponchielli’s rarely performed opera “La Gioconda”. The principal roles will be sung by Anna Netrebko and Jonas Kaufmann. “The invitation to the Salzburg Easter Festival is probably the best recognition of the great work that the Orchestra and Choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, together with Maestro Pappano, have done in recent years,” says the President of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Michele dall’Ongaro. “We are therefore very proud to be able to participate in a festival that is a flagship of the international music world and we look forward to making music together in this extraordinary city, the musical cradle of Europe.”

Sir Antonio Pappano will also conduct two of the three concert programmes, including Giuseppe Verdi’s Messa da Requiem. As guest conductor, Jakub Hrůša from Czechia will conduct a concert with selected works by Berlioz and Martinů that offer their own very special perspective on Italy. The Festival programme will also feature two song recitals.

Here you will find all details on the current programme of the Easter Festival:

New Production: Ponchielli “La Gioconda”

Antonio Pappano is the Chief Conductor of the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia from 2005 to 2023. His last opera engagement in Salzburg was at the Summer Festival in 2013, when he conducted Giuseppe Verdi’s “Don Carlos”. He is returning to Salzburg in 2024 to conduct Amilcare Ponchielli’s “La Gioconda” at the Easter Festival, a work that has never before been performed here. The British director Oliver Mears (currently the Director of Opera at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden) will direct this story about the unhappy love affair of a ballad singer. The German visual artist Philipp Fürhofer will design the sets.

Anna Netrebko will make her long-awaited debut at the Easter Festival in the title role, after her planned debut in “Turandot” was cancelled in 2021 when the Easter Festival fell foul of the pandemic. Jonas Kaufmann will sing alongside her in the role of Enzo Grimaldo. He made his debut at the Easter Festival in 2012 in “Carmen”, subse- quently sang in “Cavalleria rusticana / Pagliacci” in 2015 and is returning in 2023 as Tannhäuser. For Anna Netrebko, this new production will also mark her debut in the role: “I am delighted to return to Salzburg for this very special project, and to have the opportunity to learn this wonderful score. I am looking forward to making my debut in this rarely performed work. I trust in Maestro Pappano as I always have in the past, that’s why I know it will be wonder- full!” The cast will also feature Agnieszka Rehlis (La Cieca), Eve-Maud Hubeaux (Laura), Tareq Nazmi (Alvise Badoero) and Luca Salsi (Barnaba).

Orchestral concert I

Italy as seen by Italian composers is what links the works of the First Orchestral Concert, conducted by Antonio Pappano. The programme features Luigi Boccherini’s “La ritirata da Madrid” in the version arranged by Luciano Berio, who was the President of the Accademia di Santa Cecilia from 1999 to 2003.  Victor De Sabata is remembered today above all as a conductor. He stood on the podium of the Santa Cecilia 90 times between 1921 and 1952. But he also devoted himself to composition from 1909 to 1934, writing operas, ballets, symphonic poems, piano music and incidental music, including “Juventus”. The programme will be completed by Almicare Ponchielli’s “Elegia” of 1883 and two of Ottorino Respighi’s most famous masterpieces, “Fontane di Roma” and “Pini di Roma”. These last two works were premiered in Rome by the Orchestra dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia.

Orchestral concert II

The Second Orchestral Concert is also dedicated to Italy, but this time with works by non-Italians offering their own perspective on the country. The guest conductor will be Jakub Hrůša, the Principal Guest Conductor of Santa Cecilia and soon to be the new Music Director of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Their programme will open with “Les Fresques de Piero della Francesca”, an atmospheric symphonic poem composed in 1955 by Bohuslav Martinů that was inspired by the fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca in the Basilica of San Francesco in Arezzo. It was given its world première at the 1956 Salzburg Festival, conducted by Rafael Kubelik. There follow two works by the French composer Hector Berlioz, who was able to live and work at the Villa Medici in Italy from 1831 to 1832, after having won the Prix de Rome. Taking his inspiration from the Roman land- scapes and the mountains of Abruzzo, he composed “Harold in Italy”. The Israeli violist Pinchas Zukerman will play the solo part, here in his debut with the Orchestra di Santa Cecilia. The programme will also feature “Le carnaval remain”, adapted in 1843 from Berlioz’s opera “Benvenuto Cellini”. Here, Berlioz combines themes from the love scene between Benvenuto and Teresa in the first act and its overwhelming finale in the streets of Rome, thronging with people at carnival time.

Choral concert

Giuseppe Verdi was made an honorary member of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in 1844. The first performance of his Requiem by the Orchestra of the Accademia took place on 4 April 1898 under the baton of Stanislao Falchi. Since then, the Orchestra has programmed it on more than 80 occasions, conducted variously by Arturo Toscanini, Tullio Serafin, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Daniele Gatti, Antonio Pappano, Manfred Honeck and others. In Salzburg, the solo parts will be sung by Sonya Yoncheva, Judit Kutasi, Jonas Kaufmann and Michele Pertusi. The orchestra will be joined by the Coro dell’Accademia di Santa Cecilia and the Salzburg Bach Choir.

Dance & Electro

The Easter Festival intends continuing the newly founded dance and electro programme in 2024, and will be inviting internationally known artists to engage with the topic of Italy and the South. Details will be announced at a later date.

A Trio for you – the new subscription of the easter festival

A trio for you – back on the programme for 2024 after its big success in 2023: a subscription at a special price, avail- able exclusively at the desk of the Ticket Office at Herbert-von-Karajan-Platz 11. This special cycle at a 30% discount includes: Orchestral Concert II (26 March), “La Gioconda” (27 March) and Lieder Recital II (28 March).

Herbert von Karajan – Salzburg’s great conductor

The Salzburg Easter Festival was above all the product of a single Salzburger. Herbert von Karajan was born on the modern-day Makartsteg, where today his life-size statue stands in a conducting pose. After studying at the Mozarteum and in Vienna, he conducted the Mozarteum Orchestra for the first time at the age of 20. From this first appearance, it was clear that his path would lead to the very top. From 1960 onwards, Karajan was an integral part of the Salzburg Festival. When, seven years later, with the founding of the Easter Festival, whose leading thereof took over his life, he created a monument not only to himself but also to the music scene in Salzburg.

Exceptional quality

Karajan’s explicit wish and expectations was to only have the best on stage. It had been a conscious decision to keep the Easter festival smaller than the Salzburg Festival as this was the only way they could guarantee unique performances from world-class musicians. Karajan was renowned and respected for his perfectionism. He took the opportunity to use “his” Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and his many contacts around the world to get only the best musicians and singers.

Here you will find all details on the current programme of the Easter Festival:

The artistic directors of the Easter Festival

The high quality of the Easter Festival continued even after Karajan was no longer there. One of the main reasons were the chief conductors of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, who were also automatically responsible for the artistic direction:

      • Herbert von Karajan: 1967 (founding) until 1989 (Karajan’s death)
      • Sir Georg Solti: Solti assumed the artistic direction in 1989 after Karajan died, shortly before the festival, and then worked at the Salzburg Festival. In 1992/93 he took over the artistic direction of the Easter Festival.
      • Claudio Abbado: Abbado became the artistic director in 1994 and expanded his first Festival with the series “counterpoints” (“Kontrapunkte”): chamber orchestras with members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra collaborating with first-class soloists.
      • Sir Simon Rattle: The curly-haired Brit took over in 2003. After ten seasons, his time and the time of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra came to an end.
      • Christian Thielmann: The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden came to Salzburg after the change.
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