“It is true that Mozart enjoyed eating chocolate. As Harnoncourt said that Mozart’s chocolate’ should not cover music. That is, what is dangerous in this generation is that only stars and events are emphasized,” said Salzburg Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler (age 70) in a calm yet determined voice. It was a promise to herself not to allow Salzburg, home of Mozart, to be used commercially.
The Salzburg Summer Festival, which marked its 98th anniversary this year, opened on July 20 and will continue until August 30, presenting 206 performances in total at 18 concert halls. Five of the eight operas were produced with new direction. Above all other operas, Tchaikovsky's “Queen of Spades,” which was performed for the first time on August 5, was assessed to be the best masterpiece of this festival together with Strauss’s “Salome.” Contessa, which was sung by mezzo soprano Hannah Schwarz, who is still active singing at the age of 75, was phenomenal. The realistic and surreal stage and costumes, which were created by 77-years-old master Hans Neuenfels, are also overwhelming.
The entire songs of Hugo Wolf’s “Collection of Italian Songs,” sung by soprano Diana Damrau and tenor Jonas Kaufmann, who are currently the two most popular singers around the world, gained people’s attention. The two singers, who sang “love fights” as if they were performing an opera was truly the best.
Rabl-Stadler, former journalist and famous politician in Austria, was appointed as the head of the world’s biggest music festival in 1995 and her contract has been extended until 2020. This was quite different from the reality of Korea’s national or public performance centers where it is frequent for art directors not to fulfill his or her term of two years due to the appointee’s political preference, irrespective of one’s ability.
“Festivals needs to be held in small cities, not big ones. Performances in Seoul, Paris, or London will not bring any changes. In Salzburg, however, the whole city may be changed.”
During the summer vacation period, tourists stay in Salzburg for an average of six days to concentrate on appreciating operas and concerts. It has been said that for this year, 85 percent of the tickets have already been sold in January.
As pure art may be, Salzburg Festival is also in deficit. “Among 61 million euros of budget, half of it is covered by ticket sales. The remainder is sponsored by businesses and individuals, and government support. We may gain profit with concerts but this is not possible in operas, which require a lot of money.” The economic inducement effect, however, which easily exceeds 183 million euros per year is truly magnificent. The creation of 2,434 jobs directly reveals how much a successful festival contributes to a country.