Sunday, 20 September 2020

100th Salzburg festival kicks off under virus restrictions

Leonhard Foeger / Reuters

LONDON: While many theatres, opera houses and concert halls across the globe remain closed, one of the world’s most prestigious summer music festivals has opened in Austria this weekend – with strict anti-coronavirus measures in place.

Organisers of the annual Salzburg Festival had originally planned a glittering array of 200 events for its star-studded 100th edition.

But they were forced to shelve many of the concerts, operas and theatre performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and drew up a much more slimmed-down programme instead.

The show must go on

The month-long festival kicked off with a performance of Richard Strauss’s blood-curdling opera “Elektra” in a brand-new staging by Poland’s Krzysztof Warlikowski.

The curtain also rose on a new production of the “Everyman” play, written by one of the festival’s original founders Hugo von Hofmannsthal and staged every year here since.

But a thunderstorm forced that performance indoors – it is traditionally held on Salzburg’s Cathedral Square. And local media reports suggested that the audience, all obliged to wear face masks, found it hard to keep safety distances until seated.

Organisers are imposing strict safety measures on the 110 shows that are still going ahead.

All 80,000 tickets on sale – down from the usual 230,000 – are personalised to enable contact-tracing in case of an infection.

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