The third special programme for the Russian Friends of the Salzburg Festival ran August 6th through 9th in Salzburg. The programme, which included the most spectacular musical and concert events of the 2016 Festival Season, guided tours, and lectures, was organised by the Festival in collaboration with Aksenov Family Foundation.
A concert of the Vienna Philharmonic under the direction of the Indian conductor Zubin Mehta opened the programme. That evening, the stage of the Grosses Festspielhaus saw performances of works by Arvo Pärt, Gustav Mahler, and Anton Bruckner. Thus, Mehta celebrated the 55-year anniversary of working together with the Vienna Philharmonic – the conductor first performed with the orchestra in 1961, immediately after completing his studies at the Academy of Music in Vienna with Hans Swarowsky.
The second day of the programme dazzled the audience with a (singing and spousal) duet by Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov, appearing in the lead roles of the opera Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini. Famous for the parts of Lyudmila and Natasha Rostov, Anna Netrebko nevertheless has a special love for the Italian operatic repertoire, which is why her expressive and soulful performance of Manon’s arias and arioso utterly charmed the audience. After the opera, a charity gala evening was held in honour of the singer. The reception was held in the historic building of the Salzburg Residence in the centre of the Old Town, formerly the archbishop’s residence, which became a museum with an outstanding collection of the Renaissance, Baroque and classic art. Funds collected throughout the evening were donated to the educational programmes of the Salzburg Festival.
The third special program for the Russian Friends of the Salzburg Festival ended with a magical recital of Grigory Sokolov, a musician, who cannot be heard performing in Moscow.
Finally, the most spectacular and controversial moment of the special programme was Richard Strauss’s opera Die Liebe der Danae, under the direction and with the set design by the Latvian director Alvis Hermanis. The plot of the opera, conceived by one of the founders of the Salzburg Festival, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, in 1921, combines two ancient myths – of Jupiter visiting Danae in the form of a shower of gold and of king Midas. On stage, the motive of Danae’s lust for gold was embodied in the dazzling richness of the scenery, which shone with an unearthly light thanks to the work of the lighting designer Gleb Filshtinsky. Greatly successful was the part of Danae by the Bulgarian singer Krassimira Stoyanova, whose lyric-dramatic soprano, according to the director Franz Welser-Möst, perfectly suits the music of Strauss. It is worth noting that the opera was performed in Salzburg publicly only twice – in 1952 and 2002 – so the precious was the opportunity itself to see and hear the score on the big stage.
The third special programme for the Russian Friends of the Salzburg Festival ended with a magical recital of Grigory Sokolov, a musician, who cannot be heard performing in Moscow. This time, Sokolov’s genius blossomed in the romantic music of Robert Schubert and Frédéric Chopin. Despite the late hour, neither the public nor the pianist wanted to leave the concert hall. Sokolov returned more than five times for the encore, and the Grosses Festspielhaus continued to be filled with amazing melodies of Schubert in his performance.
In addition to opera and concert performances, the programme was complemented by the daily lectures from invited musicologists, and music walks led by the music critic and historian Alexey Trifonov.
Participants were able to get behind the scenes of the Festival, visit the costume workshops and see how the dresses were not only sewed, but stored and catalogued by the costume designers in memory of the performances of recent years.
We are grateful to everyone who joined us and supported the Salzburg Festival in 2016, and look forward to seeing you again soon!