Salzburg Festival in Corona times

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It is a test with a signal effect. Do big festivals succeed in Corona times? The greatest effort was made in Salzburg. From now on, many people interested in culture will keep their fingers crossed for the creators.

Salzburg (dpa) – The Salzburg Jubilee Festival 2020 opened on Saturday evening with a frenetically acclaimed new production of Richard Strauss’ one-act opera «Elektra».

The world’s largest music and theater festival, which celebrates its centenary this year, takes place under strict hygiene regulations due to the corona pandemic. It is one of the few music festivals in Europe that has not been canceled and lasts until the end of August.

Visitors are only allowed to take off their masks on the seats; the distance rules should be adhered to by limiting the tickets. In the 100th year of the existence of the music and theater festival, instead of around 240,000 tickets, only 76,000 are sold.

Art lovers everywhere have the opportunity to use disinfectants. The pieces are played without a break, the buffets are closed. Almost all other usual events such as the actors’ premiere celebrations have been canceled as a precaution. “We are very excited,” said Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler shortly before the opening.

The corona situation in Austria had worsened in the past few days, but is still under control, according to the Ministry of Health. The number of new infections was around 100 to almost 200 cases daily.

Richard Strauss’ mythical opera “Elektra” kicked off the artistic start to the extraordinary festival season on Saturday afternoon. The visitors were strictly controlled at the entrance. Your tickets were personalized and non-transferable. No one came to the show without ID.

In the evening, the resumption of Michael Sturminger’s modern production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s mystery play “Jedermann” on the Salzburg Cathedral Square was on the program. Here, too, the number of seats was so limited that the minimum distance to the neighbor was maintained. With the theatrical long-running hit, the first Salzburg Festival was opened on August 22, 1920, at that time in the legendary staging of festival co-founder Max Reinhardt.

On Sunday there will be another shortened version of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” with the young German conductor Joana Mallwitz. Immediately afterwards, the highly anticipated premiere of the play “Zdenec Adamec” by the literary Nobel laureate Peter Handke will take place. In the work, Handke commemorates the student’s self-immolation on Wenceslas Square in March 2003. Adamec complained in a three-page text he carried with him about global problems such as wars and pollution.

In order to reduce the risk of infection outside the festival venues, around 100 Salzburg businesses in retail, hotels and restaurants have so far committed themselves to complying with higher safety standards than required by law. Entrepreneurs who make such a voluntary commitment can call themselves “partner companies” to the “safe festival” campaign.

As one of the few major music and theater festivals in Europe, the Salzburg Festival was not canceled due to the corona pandemic. However, the program was cut down and modified. Instead of 200 as originally planned, there are now 110 performances on the program.

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