Stage director Krzysztof Warlikowski offers a happy ending, he hints, to Richard Strauss’ monumental tragedy Elektra at the Salzburg Festival, streamed live at its premiere on August 1 from the Felsenreitscchule at 5 PM Central European Time.
Against all odds the festivals of Salzburg and Rossini’s Pesaro are forging ahead this summer with real, live opera, though the limited programs and scarcity of tickets may discourage us from journeying to Austria or Italy in August. Would that we could!
Though Luigi Cherubini long outlived the carnage of the French Revolution his 1797 opÈra comique [with spoken dialogue] MÈdÈe fell well within the “horror opera” genre that responded to the spirit of its time. These days however MÈdÈe is but an esoteric and extremely challenging late addition to the international repertory.
It’s an inescapable reference. Among the myriad “Viva Genova!” tweets the Genovese populace shared celebrating its new doge, the pirate Simon Boccanegra, one stood out — “Make Genoa Great Again!” A hell of a mess ensued for years and years and the drinking water was poisonous as well.
Hans Werner Henze’s fifth opera, The Bassarids (those who wear fox skins) had its world premiere at Salzburg’s Grosses Festspielhaus in 1966. Now, 52 years later Henze’s massive “opera seria” returns, but to the Felsenreitschule —the old riding school made into a theater that hosts the Salzburg Festival’s difficult operas, the Grosses Festspielhaus now dedicated to the grand repertoire.
It was emeritus night at the Salzburg Festival with 75 year old maestro Mariss Jansons conducting 77 year old stage director Hans Neuenfels production about Pushkin’s 87 year old countess known as the Pique Dame.
A Romeo Castellucci production is always news, it is even bigger news just now in Salzburg where Lithuanian soprano Asmik Grigorian has made her debut as the fifteen year-old Salome.
South African actor, artist, multimedia artist, film and theater, now opera director William Kentridge has taken the world by storm over the past few years. In my experience The Magic Flute in Brussels, The Return of Ulysses (puppets) in San Francisco, The Nose in Aix, Lulu at the Met, Die Winterreise and his “One Man Show” in Aix. And now Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival.
Undaunted by the bloody majesty of this 1606 Shakespeare tragedy, German composer Aribert Reimann embraced the challenge back in the cold-war era (1970’s). Its Munich premiere was in 1978, a Jean-Pierre Ponnelle production that then traveled to San Francisco in 1981. Of the Munich cast only Helga Dernesch as Goneril appeared in San Francisco.
From time to time felicitous circumstances create impromptu masterpieces, like the Salzburg 2017 Whitsun Festival production of Handel’s Ariodante that has continued just now into the 2017 summer festival.