Attracting a quarter million visitors annually into the city, Salzburg Festival is the most prestigious and the biggest cultural festival in Austria, celebrating classical performance at its very best – Salzburg Festival 2013 dates are July 19 through September 1, bringing a full summer of classical music, opera, chamber orchestras and theater to this city of music and Mozart.
The summer festival has been an annual event on Salzburg’s arts calendar since 1920, when it premiered with the morality play Jedermann, directed by no less than Max Reinhardt. Today under the auspices of artistic director Alexander Pereira, the 2013 program celebrates the 200th anniversary of the births of both Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner. A selection of their best-loved operas will be performed during the festival, including Don Carlo and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, will be played by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.
With a total of 220 events at 14 venues around the city, concerts to look forward to this year include six works by British composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle, and the now-traditional opening Ouverture spirituelle will be led by Austrian conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt, featuring a mixture of Buddhist and Christian musical themes. Mahler, Haydn and Mozart concerts feature all through the festival, along with lied recitals and contemporary world music gigs.
Highlights of the drama program include Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to be staged in the romantic courtyard of the Alte Residenz (Archbishops’ Palace), and a reworked version of Jedermann, presented on the Domplatz (Cathedral Square). A complete program is available on the festival website and as always the festival will close with a white-tie ball, held this year at the Summer Riding School on August 31.
Tickets for 2013 are available on the Salzburg Festival website. Due to the concentration of visitors to the Festival, it’s advisable to book accommodation in the city well ahead of time.