Salzburg Festival sizzles with Askonas Holt artists

On the opera stage, the first production of Harrison Birtwistle’s Gawain was given in the historic setting of the Felsenreitschule. The title role was taken with huge aplomb, including the beheading of John Tomlinson(!), by Salzburg favourite Christopher Maltman, a “master in the art of acting as well as singing” The Observer.  Jennifer Johnston made her festival debut as Lady de Hautdesert with The Telegraph saying “no praise for the cast can be too high” and Ivan Ludlow made his debut as Agravain.
Salzburg’s da Ponte trilogy commenced with a new production of Cosi fan Tutte starring Salzburg celebrated Mozartian Luca Pisaroni as Guglielmo. Luca will sing his first Salzburg Leporello in 2014 and having been acclaimed in the title role in Le nozze di Figaro in the past, he sings his first Salzburg Count when the opera completes the cycle in 2015.

Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg was given in a new production by Stefan Herheim, and this was a major role debut for Markus Werba as Beckmesser: “This character usually comes across as a crotchety old fussbudget. But Mr. Werba, 39, made Beckmesser a young, nerdy hothead. That he sang with a virile sound and sputtering intensity lent intriguing ambiguity to his portrayal” The New York Times.

Robert Lloyd continued his long standing relationship with the festival (where he has previously appeared in Pelleas et Melisande, Les Troyens, Die Zauberflöte, and Don Giovanni), appearing with Sir Antonio Pappano in Peter Stein’s new production of Don Carlo with the Vienna Philharmonic.
In his return to Salzburg, the superb bass Dmitry Belosselskiy had great success as Zaccaria in Nabucco with Riccardo Muti: “Dmitry Belosselskiy (as Zaccaria) is a forceful opponent and a fantastic bass” Der Kurier.
On the concert platform Belosselskiy made a huge impact in three great performances of Verdi’s Requiem with the Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Muti. Elīna Garanča who sang the Requiem with Daniel Barenboim at the 2012 festival, returned this year to sing this masterpiece for the first time with Muti: “Leuchtend hell und schön, perfekt phrasierend, aber auch mit der
nötigen Substanz in der Tiefe ausgestattet absolvierte sie ihre Soli.”
Die Presse.
Anna Prohaska’s three appearances this year included Mahler 8 and Mozart’s C Minor Mass with Gustavo Dudamel. She also led the world premiere of Hoskawa’s Lamentation for Soprano and Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit.

Ian Bostridge contributed to the festival’s Britten celebration, performing the Serenade for tenor, horn and strings with last year’s Salzburg Nestlé Competition winner Jamie Phillips, then in the Salzburg premiere of Britten’s War Requiem with the Santa Cecilia orchestra, alongside Anna Netrebko and Thomas Hampson, with Sir Antonio Pappano, a major festival event.
Dorothea Röschmann’s return to Salzburg, where she first appeared with Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1995, was to sing Mahler 4 with Cornelius Meister and to collaborate again with Harnoncourt and the Vienna Philharmonic in Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten.
Meanwhile, we had five Maestri on the podium across the prestigious Festival…
Salzburg hosted an El Sistema residency, which saw some 1,300 musicians from Venezuela creating lots of music in Salzburg for three weeks. Conductors Christian Vásquez and Diego Matheuz led the Teresa Carreño Youth Orchestra of Venezuela in a three-part concert featuring works by Bartok, Berlioz, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky. This unique four-hour long concert received rapturous applause from a packed concert hall including many young people.
Sir Simon Rattle enchanted audiences with the Berliner Philharmoniker in two programmes – Mozart’s last three symphonies and a ‘vintage’ Rattle programme of Schoenberg, Berg and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. He also revelled in working once again with musicians of El Sistema in a rousing performance of Mahler 1.
Sir John Eliot Gardiner returned once again to Salzburg, this time for a hugely-acclaimed debut with the Mozarteumorchester in two performances of Handel’s magnificent oratorio Alexander’s Feast (arranged by Mozart). A fitting tribute to departing Intendant, Mr Alexander Pereira!
Ben Gernon was lucky enough to soak up the Salzburg atmosphere over 5 weeks – conducting Die Entführung with the Young Singers Academy and making his triumphant debut with Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester at the Felsenreitschule as winner of the Nestlé and Salzburg Young Conductor Award.
Giovanni Antonini conducted performances of Bellini’s Norma with Cecilia Bartoli in the title role. His contribution to the success of the production has been noted internationally by many significant publications including the New York Times: “Also fundamental to the success of the evening was Giovanni Antonini’s conducting and the playing by La Scintilla, the period instrument orchestra of the Zurich Opera House.
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