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Centennial Celebration of the 2021 Salzburg Festival

Centennial Celebration of the 2021 Salzburg Festival

The 2021 Salzburg Festival continues to triumph after 100 years with 168 performances in 46 days at 17 venues.
Harmonies puts the spotlight on a few of the spectacular stages stunning audiences during the festival’s centennial celebration.

© Tourismus Salzburg

Domplatz (Cathedral Square)
Max Reinhardt (1873-1943), an Austrian-born theatrical producer, established the Salzburg Festival with Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Richard Strauss in 1920. Together they envisioned the whole city as a live stage, where daily life and stagecraft become one. Since then, the performance of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s play Jedermann takes place in the Cathedral Square every year. The cathedral in Salzburg was built between 1614 and 1628 according to plans by Santino Solari; it is the largest early Baroque church north of the Alps and also the oldest bishopric in present-day Austria. It provides an impressive theatrical backdrop for the morality play. The square seats 2,544 people. Within the temporary stage, there are several trap doors and pits for the actors. Reinhardt called it “a location unmatched throughout the world.”

© Oskar Anrather

© Salzburger Festspiele Archiv

Felsenreitschule
In 1693, according to plans by the Baroque master architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach, three tiers of 96 arcades were hewn into stonewalls by the Felsenreitschule (Summer Riding School) to enable the public to watch equestrian displays. Centuries later, in the 1920s, Max Reinhardt suggested that the Felsenreitschule should be used as a theater.

© Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

© Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

So, in 1926, he staged a play for the Salzburg Festival. Then in 1948, the first opera production took place in the Felsenreitschule when Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan conducted Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. In the 1960s the venue underwent a radical conversion and adaptation work took place, mainly according to plans by the Austrian architect and stage designer Clemens Holzmeister. An understage area, an orchestral pit and a lighting bridge were installed, as well as a weatherproof roll-back roof to offer protection against rain and cool summer evenings.

© Land Salzburg / Neumayr

© Land Salzburg / Neumayr

Also, an auditorium with boxes and circles as well as a depot for scenery were created. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s staging of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, which was presented here every summer from 1978 to 1986, achieved legendary status at this spectacular venue. The same is true of Shakespeare’s plays Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and Anthony and Cleopatra in the productions by Peter Stein and Deborah Warner (Coriolanus), which in the early 1990s were internationally acclaimed. Major renovations then took place to improve sightlines and acoustics for the audience and the Felsenreitschule reopened to much fanfare in 2011.

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

Grosses Festspielhaus
The plans for a Grosses Festspielhaus (Large Festival Hall), where the former archiepiscopal princely stables were located, were drawn up primarily by the architect Clemens Holzmeister. Herbert von Karajan also made many suggestions for the building project, in particular regarding the design of the theater hall. Every effort was made and no expense spared so as to “insert” between the three-centuries-old façade of the former court stables and the Mönchsberg a theater with an opera stage whose structure and technical equipment would still meet highest international demands after fifty years. Between autumn 1956 and the early summer of 1960, 55,000 cubic meters of rock were blasted away to create the relevant space.

© Salzburger Festspiele / Marco Borrelli

© Salzburger Festspiele

The Grosses Festspielhaus was opened on 26 July 1960 with a festive ceremony and the performance of Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss conducted by Herbert von Karajan. The ground plan of the auditorium is almost square, nearly 35 meters long and from the stalls as well as from the circle offers ideal acoustic conditions and sight-lines for 2,179 seats. The iron stage curtain weighs 34 tons and in the middle is one meter thick. The décor for the concert hall was renewed in 1993 by Richard Peduzzi. Five bronze doors with handles designed by Toni Schneider-Manzell allow the public access from the Hofstallgasse. The façade is ornamented by a Latin inscription by the Benedictine monk Professor Thomas Michels (Order of St. Benedict): Sacra camenae domus concitis carmine patet quo nos attonitos numen ad auras ferat (The holy house of the muse is open for lovers of the arts, may divine power inspire us and raise us to the heights). Mostly local materials were used for fitting out the Grosses Festspielhaus: the reinforced concrete columns in the entrance foyer were covered with the conglomerate rock removed from the wall of the Mönchsberg; the floor is made of Adnet marble. Low beam lighting in the sloping ceiling and panel dishes made of glass from Murano create a solid lighting design. Two sculptures created by Wander Bertoni in Carrara marble represent music and drama. The four large-scale paintings in the form of crosses on the theme Dreams with the Wrong Solutions, are by the New York painter and sculptor Robert Longo (1993).

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

© Salzburger Festspiele / Luigi Caputo

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The interval hall adjoining the entrance foyer is largely based on the original ground plan of the archiepiscopal princely stables. The floor of green serpentine is new and contains mosaics of horses by Kurt Fischer. On the wall is a steel relief by Rudolf Hochlehner entitled Homage to Anton von Webern. Through the arch built by Fischer von Erlach one can look out onto the horse statue and fountain and the Schüttkasten which was acquired by the Salzburg Festival in 1987. A separate access on the left of the interval foyer leads via an escalator and steps to the underground car park for the old town center of Salzburg.

© Oskar Anrather

The furnishings for a Patrons’ Lounge on the first floor of the Grosses Festspielhaus were financed by the American patrons of the arts Donald and Jeanne Kahn, who later became major sponsors of the Salzburg Festival. Since 1995 it has served as a reception area for patrons, sponsors as well as their guests and is also used for press conferences and various other functions in connection with the Salzburg Festival.

© Salzburger Festspiele / Andreas Kolarik

Specifications:
• Stage width: 100 m; stage depth: 25 m
• Proscenium width: 30 m
• Proscenium height: 9 m
• Five lifting podia, 18 x 3 m each; speed max. 0.25 m / sec.; loading capacity 20 tons each
• Hydraulic stage machinery (double attachment of ABB)
• Gridiron: 155 hoists with a loading capacity of 500 kg each, a third of them hydraulically driven and electronically controlled
• Lighting: 825 adjustable electric circuits with a power of over 5000 watts each; digital light console; depot of around 2,000 individual lights
• Electroacoustics: sound control board with up to 192 inputs, 20 main outputs and 4 auxiliary outputs; sockets for loudspeakers and microphones throughout the entire stage and auditorium

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