Markus Hinterhäuser, appointed interim Artistic Director for 2011, chose a quote by the Italian composer Luigi Nono as the motto for his programme: “To awaken the ear, the eyes, and human thought.” A relief by the artist Stephan Balkenhol became the 2011 Salzburg Festival’s image: a woman with a mysterious gaze, apparently listening attentively despite her missing ears. During the summer, the Festival exhibit showcased not only Stephan Balkenhol’s monumental sculpture sempre più, but also a series of new works created for this purpose by the artist, referring to the 2011 Salzburg Festival programme. The women and men whose figures and reliefs the Festival visitors encountered were reminiscent of characters from the 2011 Festival’s summer productions, yet they remained anonymous, even mysterious.
The figure of a small man hiding a knife behind his back might have reminded the observer of Macbeth’s bloody deed in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera of the same name. The first collaboration between Peter Stein and Riccardo Muti, Macbeth became the runaway hit of the Festival summer, several times overbooked. With Richard Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten, Christian Thielemann conducted his first opera in Salzburg; this opera was directed by Christoph Loy. The Makropoulos Affair continued the Janáček tradition of the Salzburg Festival, following From the House of the Dead, Jenůfa and Kát’a Kabanová. For this production, three personalities who had already written Festival history in 1998 with a production of Kát’a Kavanová gathered once again: director Christoph Marthaler, set designer Anna Viebrock and singer Angela Denoke, performing the central role, the ageless opera singer Emilia Marty. Leoš Janáček’s penultimate opera was conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen. 2011 offered the first opportunity to experience Claus Guth’s much-acclaimed productions of W. A. Mozart’s three da Ponte operas in one Festival summer. In Don Giovanni with the Vienna Philharmonic under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Gerald Finley and Erwin Schrott gave compelling performances in the title role and as Leporello. The young conductor Robin Ticciati led the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Le nozze di Figaro, Genia Kühmeier making her role debut as Countess Almaviva. The 2009 production of Così fan tutte, conducted in 2011 by Marc Minkowski and performed by Les Musiciens du Louvre, was extensively revised by the director and reflected the abysmal sides of the “school of lovers”. Four reliefs by Stephan Balkenhol – two men and two women – seemed to replicate the distant and mysterious interplay between the two couples in the opera house’s foyer. A concert double bill of Piotr I. Tchaikovsky’s last opera Iolanta and Igor Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol proved an enormous success with audiences and critics alike, not least because of its luxurious cast – Anna Netrebko sang the role of the blind princess Iolanta, while Piotr Beczala took on that of her beloved Vaudémont.
In the concert program, The Fifth Continent and the Mahler Scenes formed two focal points. In the fifth and final year of the Continents series, ensembles such as Klangforum Wien, les ensembles solistes XXI and the stadler quartet, and conductors such as Ingo Metzmacher, Jonathan Nott and Steven Sloane presented exemplary compositions of the past decades, creating multiple cross-references with previous Continents. After its widely-acclaimed 1993 performance, Luigi Nono’s work Prometeo made a comeback at the Salzburg Festival. Flanking the opera programme, Salvatore Sciarrino’s musical theatre work Macbeth (2001/02) was performed. The director and choreographer Sasha Waltz made a guest appearance during The Fifth Continent with her project Continu, based on music by Edgard Varèse, Claude Vivier and Iannis Xenakis. The series of Scenes, initiated in 2007, was dominated by the Gustav Mahler anniversary in 2011. As part of the nine-part cycle, Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra offered Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Piotr Beczala, Christian Gerhaher and András Schiff performed Das Lied von der Erde, and Pierre Boulez and the Vienna Philharmonic interpreted Mahler’s Das klagende Lied and Alban Berg’s Lulu Suite at the Großes Festspielhaus.
In addition to the revival of Jedermann in Christian Stückl’s production, two world premieres and the Faust Marathon at the Perner-Insel in Hallein were the highlights of the 2011 drama programme. Directed by Nicolas Stemann, both parts of J. W. Goethe’s Faust were performed on four weekends as marathon performances. The complementary framework of events, entitled Auf eigene Faust, offered such varied events as a staged first reading of Daniel Kehlmann’s play Die Geister von Princeton and a concert featuring the singer Gustav and Ben Becker, playing the role of Death in Jedermann in 2011. At the Landestheater, the Festival season began with a Salzburg Festival commission: Roland Schimmelpfennig’s play Die vier Himmelsrichtungen had its world premiere on July 30, directed by the author. Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure was also featured at the Landestheater in 2011. Apart from Thomas Ostermeier’s directing, it was mainly Gert Voss – who played Jedermann at the Salzburg Festival from 1995 to 1998 – and Lars Eidinger who made the strongest impression. The season’s second world premiere was a very personal play by the writer Peter Handke, presented on stage at the Perner-Insel: in Immer noch Sturm, Handke tells the story of his family and the history of the Slovenian Carinthians and their partisan war. In an evocation of his ancestors, the narrator brings his forebears back to life, imagining himself in their midst. Dimiter Gotscheff directed this co-production with the Thalia Theater Hamburg. Under the title Beyond the Border, the world premiere was flanked by readings, panel discussions and film screenings making political and aesthetic reference to the author’s oeuvre to date. In its tenth year of existence, the Young Directors Project continued to explore unusual theatrical formats. Beyond conventional stages, for example, the audience of the winning production Symphony of a Missing Room by the London-based artist duo Lundahl & Seitl visited an imaginary museum within Salzburg’s Museum der Moderne. 2011 was also Thomas Oberender’s last year as the Salzburg Festival’s Director of Drama, an occasion for review: from 2007 to 2011, the drama programme featured 448 performances of 93 productions, many of them world premieres or first performances, for example the celebrated adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment in 2008 or the double bill of Samuel Beckett’s The Last Tape and Peter Handke’s Bis dass der Tag euch scheidet oder Eine Frage des Lichts in 2009. For the series Poets in Residence, the drama director brought Claudio Magris, Daniel Kehlmann and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk to Salzburg. With productions like Heiner Müller’s Quartett with Barbara Sukowa and Jeroen Willems at the Carabinieri Hall at Salzburg’s Residenz, the Sad Face / Happy Face trilogy by Jan Lauwers and the Needcompany, or Peter Stein’s translation of Sophocles’ tragedy Oedipus at Colonus, which Stein also directed at the Perner-Insel, Thomas Oberender succeeded in creating unique artistic constellations.
Translation: Alexa Nieschlag