© Tourismus Salzburg GmbH - Orchesterkonzert im Großen Festspielhaus

Salzburg Whitsun Festival


For 2023, visitors to the Salzburg Whitsun Festival embark on a journey to the underworld – and experience the birth of opera from Orpheus' mourning for the loss of his beloved Eurydice anew from May 26 to 29.

In 2023, Artistic Director Cecilia Bartoli, who has held this role since 2012, places a journey to the underworld at the center of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Cecilia Bartoli and her guests explore the myth of Orpheus’ enchanting lament, his moving singing and playing in works by Monteverdi, Gluck, and Haydn. “As a musician and singer, I firmly believe in the power of music and the human voice. Thus, the myth of Orpheus is naturally one of the ancient stories that fascinate me the most. I feel encouraged when I read about the wonderful effect of Orpheus’ music: how it could appease the most threatening enemies – and even death – how it changed life in a way that would have been unthinkable if Orpheus had not desperately dared to challenge the eternal laws of the world,” describes Cecilia Bartoli, Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, the program she has put together for the Salzburg Whitsun Festival from May 26 to 29, 2023.

The last day of the Whitsun Festival will also be dedicated to a Schubertiade and a benefit concert for Daniel Barenboim, to whom Cecilia Bartoli is artistically and personally connected in a special way: “I am forever grateful to him for discovering and advising me early in my career and remaining an infinitely inspiring musical partner and loyal friend for 35 years now,” she describes the relationship with one of her most important musical mentors and supporters. As an exceptional musician, Daniel Barenboim enriches the world of music as a pianist, conductor, and initiator of cultural projects for an incredible seven decades. “People like Daniel Barenboim are proof to me that great myths are not merely creations of our aspiring minds. They can obviously be very real and have their origins in people filled with deep humanity,” she characterizes the outstanding personality of Daniel Barenboim further.

Here, you will find all the information on the Salzburg Whitsun Festival.

The Whitsun Festival and its changing artistic direction

The Festival has been shaped by great personalities ever since it was founded. It was clear from the onset that it should be an independent institution with a programme very different to the festivals in Summer and at Easter:

  • Karajan’s era: At first, the Festival was intended to be an extension of the Easter Festival. Founded six years previously, it drew large crowds and Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra created a first-class programme.
  • From 1982: Subsequently, more and more orchestras and conductors from around the world were invited. The focus had been on works by Anton Bruckner until Karajan died in 1989. After this devastating experience, the Salzburg Whitsun Festival started to lack direction.
  • New start in 1997: After Baden-Baden played host to the Whitsun concerts in 1997, it prompted a new start in Salzburg in the following year. Completely different to the other two, it was now dedicated to the Baroque composers.
  • Riccardo Muti: The Festival reinvented itself in 2007. Muti, from Naples, wanted to put the spotlight on the composers of his home country. So, until 2011 the programme included Italian composers of the 18th
Cecilia Bartoli as Artistic Director

Cecilia Bartoli has not only been the artistic director since 2012, but has also taken on the lead in the opera production. Alexander Pereira also became the Festival director in 2012 and saw to it that the opera productions could also be used for future summer festivals:

  • 2012: Friedrich Händel: Giulio Cesare in Egitto
  • 2013: Vincenzo Bellini: Norma
  • 2014: Gioachino Rossini: La Cenerentola as well as Otello
  • 2015: Iphigénie en Tauride
  • 2016: Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story
Holiday Destination Austria give feedback for a chance to win a special holiday experience!