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Salzburg Whitsun Festival 2018

6 JUN 2017

published in: Whitsun

“This is the special quality of Cecilia Bartoli, our imaginative Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival: taking the Rossini memorial as a point of departure, she evokes the many turning points of the year 1868,” says Markus Hinterhäuser, Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival.

In order to assemble the events, Cecilia Bartoli used the year 1868, the year of Rossini’s death, as orientation. Her programme is to open a different perspective on the composer, showing what the world looked like at the end of his life, which terminated amidst a turning point in the musical world.

The centrepiece of the Whitsun Festival is the staged production, Rossini’s opera L’italiana in Algeri, first performed on 22 May 1813 – the very day that Richard Wagner was born. In this musical comedy, Cecilia Bartoli sings the role of Isabella: “She is a sharp-witted and feisty woman who tells the men around her what’s what,” the mezzo-soprano says. In comic fashion, the opera recounts the mad tale of two foreign cultures that collide and overwhelm each other with strange rituals. The opera is directed by the duo Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, already familiar to Whitsun Festival audiences from their productions of Bellini’s Norma and Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride. The opera is conducted by Jean-Christophe Spinosi, at the helm of Ensemble Matheus. Alongside Bartoli, the cast includes Peter Kálmán, Edgardo Rocha, Alessandro Corbelli, José Coca Loza, Rebeca Olvera and Rosa Bove.

While Rossini’s life was nearing its end, another composer – originally German, but French by choice – was at the height of his fame in Paris. In 1868 Jacques Offenbach’s opera Périchole was first performed. In 2018 this scintillating score will be revived in concert by Marc Minkowski and his Musiciens du Louvre. The cast features Aude Extrémo, Benjamin Bernheim, Laurent Alvaro and Lea Desandre, among others.

Whitsun Saturday also features a sacred matinee – Anton Bruckner’s motet Pange lingua of 1868 and Johannes Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem of 1869 will be conducted by Jérémie Rhorer. Genia Kühmeier and Andrè Schuen join the Bavarian Radio Chorus as soloists. At Cecilia Bartoli’s special request, the piano part will be played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Markus Hinterhäuser.

The musical turning point between eras can be traced not only in opera, but also in the development of the solo concerto and in symphonic music. The orchestra concert offers Rossini’s Overture to Semiramide, his melodramma tragico, Edvard Grieg’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 1 in G minor. András Schiff plays the solo part; the Staatskapelle Berlin is conducted by Daniel Barenboim.

Javier Camarena’s aria recital is both an homage to the Spanish tenor and vocal pedagogue Manuel del Pópulo Vicente Rodríguez García (1775-1832) and to Rossini. The role of Count Almaviva seems to have been tailored to Camarena himself. And García was reputed to reach the high C even in his chest voice. The recital features arias from Ricciardo e Zoraide, Il barbiere di Siviglia and El poeta calculista. Gianluca Capuano conducts Les Musiciens du Prince – Monaco.

The soloist concert with Maxim Vengerov on Whitsun Monday again takes us back to the year 1868, when Max Bruch completed his virtuoso Violin Concerto No. 1, a romantic showpiece par excellence. It is paired with Camille Saint-Saëns’ Rondo cappricioso and Havanaise as well as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade in C major for String Orchestra. The Camerata Salzburg performs together with Maxim Vengerov.

The 2018 Salzburg Whitsun Festival ends with a gala concert on Monday evening. Cecilia Bartoli, Rolando Villazón and Jonas Kaufmann sing with the Staatskapelle Berlin under the baton of Daniel Barenboim. While composing Lohengrin, Richard Wagner claimed, he had been haunted by melodies from Rossini’s Guillaume Tell, leaving him in “great torment” and blocking all original musical thought. He added that only by humming Beethoven’s Ninth to himself had he been able to liberate himself, restoring his creative power. – “It is music one must hear a number of times,” Gioachino Rossini acknowledged after attending a performance of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, “but I won’t be going again...” The two geniuses may have traded barbs – yet their only meeting, in Paris in 1860, turned out to be a friendly, thoughtful, even merry exchange. Musically, the two presumably never got closer than the practically through-composed Act III of Otello, parts of which will be performed at the gala concert. Wagner is represented by excerpts from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg and Tristan und Isolde.


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