Salzburg Festival 2020

Black and white photo of 2 sculptures at the entrance of the Großes Festspielhaus, Salzburg. In the background the fortress Hohensalzburg
Großes Festspielhaus, Salzburg (c)

It was supposed to become a great event - for all fans of the Salzburg Summer Festival: the celebration of the 100th anniversary of one of the world's most important art and cultural events. 222 performances in 44 days at 15 venues. Many of the productions have already been sold out for months.

Entrance to the Großen Festspielhaus of the Salzburg Festival
Salzburger Festspiele, (c)

The 22nd of August is dedicated to "Jedermann". On this day, 100 years ago, the drama by Hugo von Hofmannsthal was performed for the first time on Salzburg Cathedral Square as part of the Salzburg Festival. It was virtually the birth of the Salzburg Summer Festival.

The program on this particular day includes a "Jedermann reading" in the Felsenreitschule, a "Jedermann Special Performance" on the cathedral square and a celebratory banquet that will extend throughout the entire festival district.

Jedermann at the Salzburg Festival 2014: Jedermann (Cornelius Obonya) and Death (Peter Lohmeyer)
Jedermann, 2014 (c)
A scene from "Jedermann", 2014
Jedermann, 2014 (c)

I also wanted to pay my respects to the jubilarian with a modest contribution: a special exhibition of photos from festival performances of recent years.

Salzburg Festival, 2014: Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo in Il Trovatore
Il Trovatore, 2014: Anna Netrebko & Placido Domingo. (c)
A scene from Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival 2014
Don Giovanni, 2014. (c)
A scene from Don Giovanni at the Salzburg Festival 2014
Don Giovanni, 2014. (c)
A scene from Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival 2014
Rosenkavalier, 2014 (c)

At least that was the original plan. Until that moment when a useless little beast appeared on the world stage - and changed all our lives at once.

The question that arises is: can this year's anniversary festival be held at all under the foreseeable circumstances? And if so: in which way?

Travel restrictions will probably continue to affect our travel behaviour for some time.

Major events are prohibited in Austria until the end of August. We're going to have to maintain a minimum distance of at least 1 meter.

But how do you do that at performances that are already sold out, where people will be sitting side by side in the tightest of spaces?

Crowd of people at Mozart Square in Salzburg, 2014
Salzburg, 2014. (c)
Crowd of people at Residenz Square in Salzburg
Salzburg, 2014 (c)

A lot of questions arise from the contradictions that we will find for a long time to come. The Salzburg Festival was founded in 1920. After the devastating First World War they were to be a cultural contribution to the creation of a new Austrian identity -  the emergence of a new era.

This year, the Summer Festival will probably be a more modest form of the original celebrations - if they take place at all.

A scene from "Jedermann" at Salzburg Festival 2017
Salzburg Festival 2017, "Jedermann" (c)
A scene from "Jedermann" at Salzburg Festival 2017
Salzburg Festival 2017, "Jedermann" (c)

But perhaps the Salzburg Festival in 2021 can become a symbol of a new beginning: as a festival in honour of the victory over the world's greatest catastrophe since 1945.The decision whether the Summer Festival will take place this year at all - and if so, in what form - will be determined at the end of May.

Chin up & let´s get through it!

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