Owing to its status as the birthplace of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg has been playing host to influential classical music and drama festivals for more than a century. One of the most prestigious of these is the annual Salzburg Festival. With a history that dates to 1920 (it launched with a play directed by no less a talent than Max Reinhardt), this festival is one of the premier showcases of opera, drama and classical music in Austria.
Once a hotbed of reactionary Catholicism and conservatism (more than a few passion plays have been staged over the years), the modern incarnation of the festival is an open and inclusive celebration of refinement and creativity.
This year, the festival will span a full 44 days (July 20th-September 2nd). With performances in nearly 20 venues around Salzburg, the 2012 program includes Haydn’s Ouverture Spirituelle, a number of “Mozart Matinees” from the likes of Ivor Bolton and Christopher Hogwood, and music by Dvorak, Handel and Schubert. There will also be performances of Peer Gynt, Everyman and Carmen, among others. For aspiring musicians, there are a number of master classes, lectures and tutorials on offer. The Vienna Philharmonic will be making appearances, as will the London Symphony Orchestra and many other smaller ensembles, youth troupes and soloists. For a complete listing of all performances, see the festival website.
Note: The Salzburg Festival is expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors this year, so be sure to arrange for tickets and accommodations well in advance.