Giuseppe Verdi’s historical opera Simon Boccanegra opened at the Great Festival Hall in Salzburg, Austria last Tuesday. The prologue of this tragic opera only features male singers with low voices. Director Andreas Kriegenburg transformed the “boring” background of the prologue from the 14th century to modern times. The prologue did not feel boring anymore with election campaigners holding cell phones and a governor being elected by forming public opinion through social network.
The opera was not just all about political symbols. The stage was well balanced with half of it being the Grimaldi mansion and the other half being Simon’s palace. The scene, where Simon played by baritone Luca Salsi and his daughter Amelia played by soprano Marina Rebeka met for the first time in 25 years was the culmination of humanity. The conductor Valery Gergiev highlighted bass part by placing low-pitched string instruments in the center.
A recital by Italian pianist Maurizio Pollini also attracted much attention. Since his debut in the Salzburg Festival in 1973, he has been invited to the festival for 60 times. The 77-year-old virtuoso seemed to find it hard to walk but the audience went breathless when he played Piano Sonata No.32 by Beethoven.
There is a Korean musician taking part in the Salzburg Festival. Bass Youn Kwang-chul made his debut at the festival as a soloist of the Berlin Philharmonic, singing the Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven. “We’ve invited pianist Cho Sung-jin to next year’s 100th Salzburg Festival and we’ll definitely check out flutist Choi Na-kyung’s music,” said Markus Hinterhauser, artistic director of the Salzburg Festival after the Verdi Requiem by the Vienna Philharmonic on August 17.
The Lucerne Summer Festival, which mainly focuses on concert, was reaching its climax on Thursday. Conductor Mariss Jansons could not be there at the Salzburg Festival with the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for health reasons. Therefore, Yannick Nezet-Seguin filled in for Jansons and made his debut at the Lucerne Summer Festival as well. Leionidas Kavakos, who performed Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, showcased Cadenza, a duet performance with timpani. The Lucerne Festival Orchestra performed an ensemble piece of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4 in C Minor.