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Everything to know about the Salzburg Festival 2023!
Artstyle 30 May 2023

Everything to know about the Salzburg Festival 2023!

With summertime just around the corner, what better time than now to start planning out your weekends and holidays? The Artsper team is here to help you navigate the boundless cultural and artistic events taking place over the coming months. For those of you searching for the perfect cultural itinerary during your European adventures, we have got you covered! The Salzburg Festival is an annual extravaganza that combines music, theater, and opera in the picturesque city of Salzburg, Austria. From July 20th to August 31st, the festival brings you an exciting selection of events and performances! Established in 1920, the festival has become one of the world’s most renowned events in the calendar. Its program attracts artists, performers, and culture enthusiasts from all corners of the globe, year after year! Will we be seeing you in Salzburg this year?

1. A history of the festival

Salzburg Cathedral, where Jedermann is performed annually © SF/Karina Salmen

It is not only a broadly diverse program of events which sets the Salzburg Festival apart from others, but also a unique heritage and history, right in the heart of the city. The interdisciplinary festival was founded by theater director Max Reinhardt, composer Richard Strauss, playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and conductor Franz Schalk. Envisioning the festival as an interdisciplinary celebration of the arts, the four creative minds sought to establish an event which brought light to Salzburg’s rich cultural heritage, and showcased the very best of classical music and theater to 20th century audiences.

The Felsenreitschule, a unique setting of the festival © SF/Kolarik

In the summer of 1920, the curtain was lifted on the inaugural festival, with a performance of Hofmannsthal’s play Jedermann (Everyman). Directed by Michael Sturminger, this performance shall be reprised once again in the city’s baroque Cathedral Square. A mysterious tale of morality, life and death, the play forms an integral part of the festival’s history and continues to be adored by visitors year after year.

2. Musical showcases

Vienna Philharmonic performing at Salzburg Festival © SF/Marco Borrelli

After the cast have taken their bow at the Jedermann performance, you’ll hear the melodies of nearby recitals reverberating throughout the city as you explore its historical center. From choral ensembles to symphony orchestras, the Salzburg Festival is renowned for its exceptional musical performances. The festival attracts leading conductors, soloists, and orchestras from around the world, offering a diverse repertoire that spans classical, romantic, and contemporary compositions.

This year, festival goers can look forward to a broad selection of performances by international groups such as the Boston Symphony Orchestra, as well as recitals by the Young Concert Artists group. The festival is unique in this way, in its approach to musical showcases. Each year, the program of performances maintains a harmonious balance between traditional and contemporary compositions, so there is something for everyone to enjoy! Visitors have the opportunity to watch renditions from both long-adored groups and the emerging talents in the world of classical music!

3. For opera enthusiasts

From Verdi to Bellini, Mozart to Berlioz, one of the festival’s merits is its unparalleled program of operatic performances each year. This year, visitors can enjoy a performance of Verdi’s reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Or indeed an operatic rendition of Henry Purcell’s The Indian Queen. Opera enthusiasts flock from all over the world to Salzburg to enjoy the festival’s extraordinary selection of acclaimed operas.

Orfeo ed Euridice, 2023: Cecilia Bartoli (Orfeo), Dancers © SF/Monika Rittershaus
Orfeo ed Euridice, 2023: Cecilia Bartoli (Orfeo), Dancers © SF/Monika Rittershaus

Salzburg is also home to a variety of unique and historical venues. It is across these venues that the festival’s opera program unfolds. From Salzburg Festival Hall (known affectionately as “Mozart’s Petit Palais” to loyal festival goers) to the Felsenreitschule. This particular venue, now an open-air theater in the city center, was once a historic summer riding school. It was Max Reinhardt, one of the festival’s founders, who spearheaded the school’s transformation into a theater. Today, visitors have the fortune of watching performances in venues which are steeped in the rich history of the city.

4. Play performances

Lesung Maria Stuart, 2021: Eva Mattes © SF/Franz Neumayr
Reading Maria Stuart, 2021: Eva Mattes © SF/Franz Neumayr

If your tastes are rather more thespian, you are spoilt for choice at the Salzburg Festival this year! The dramatic arts are also an integral part of the festival’s attractions. Several productions are on offer for those who wish to be whisked away to a world of wonder. These include plays, contemporary works, adaptations of literary classics, and poetry recitals. Yet another example of its diverse breadth of attractions, the festival embraces a wide range of genres in its theater repertoire, from thought-provoking dramas to light hearted comedies. Acclaimed directors and talented actors are afforded the opportunity to showcase the versatility and creativity of the performing arts.

5. Summertime in Salzburg?

The Hofstallgasse during a performance break © SF/Kolarik

Salzburg Festival also nurtures young artistic talent through various initiatives. The annual Young Singers Project provides aspiring singers with opportunities to train and perform alongside established artists. Equally, the Young Conductors Program supports promising conductors from all over the world in refining their skills. These platforms offer visitors a glimpse into the future of classical music and serve as a breeding ground for the next generation of Salzburg’s artistic culture. The festival is truly pioneering in its efforts to bring light to the emerging talent of the arts

Architectural detail of the Haus für Mozart © SF/Karl Forster

Aside from the plethora of artistic events at the festival, Salzburg is itself a city of breathtaking beauty. It is home to a broad variety of historical and cultural landmarks which are certainly worth a visit. The birthplace of Mozart is also commemorated by a museum in the city center. It offers visitors a fascinating glimpse into the life and career of the musical prodigy. Salzburg is also surrounded by the lakes of the Salzkammergut. These make for wonderful excursions and golfing trips during the summertime.

See you there!

Finally, the Salzburg Festival stands as a testament to the enduring power of the arts to inspire, entertain, and unite. For over a century, it has enchanted audiences with its exceptional performances, world-class artists, and breathtaking venues. The festival celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Salzburg and pushing the boundaries of artistic expression. In this way, it continues to evolve and captivate visitors from around the world. Are you an avid music lover, a theater aficionado, or simply seeking a remarkable cultural experience? The Salzburg Festival offers an unforgettable journey into the realm of the arts. Will we see you there this summer?

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