Film still from: Pedro Almodóvar, Hable con ella (Talk to her), 2002, Allstar Picture Library Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo. © El Deseo S.A., Madrid

Cecilia Bartoli focuses on Seville for Salzburg Whitsun 2022

In 2022 the Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, Cecilia Bartoli, focuses on Seville, which inspired an incomparable number of composers. There are said to be 153 operas set in and around Seville. It is a city which unites a unique mixture of proud ancient cultures which has generated and inspired incredibly varied music and enchants visitors with its stunningly bright light, its blistering heat, its intoxicating orange blossom scent.

“I don’t know whether it was by chance or not, but my debut role as a professional opera singer was Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia! Rossini himself owed much of his reputation to a man from Seville: the great tenor Manuel del Pópulo Vicente García, who was born in this city in 1775 and excelled in so many Rossini operas throughout his career. It was thanks to Manuel García, and subsequently his daughters Maria Malibran and Pauline Viardot, that the fortunes of Il barbiere di Siviglia changed so dramatically, from the disaster of the first performance to the tremendous fame it still enjoys. This delightful opera was the cornerstone of my own international career, and I’m so happy to return to it — maybe for the last time — alongside some of my very favourite colleagues, with Gianluca Capuano conducting and a new staging by Rolando Villazón,” says the Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, Cecilia Bartoli.

Cecilia Bartoli © Decca / Kristian Schuller

Delighting in masks and disguise, parody and grotesque, performance and pretence, Il barbiere di Siviglia by Gioachino Rossini is permeated with the spirit of carnival. Figaro becomes something likea co-author of the piece, especially given that he frequently steps out of the action in order to comment on it from a distance, making it appear as theatre within the theatre. Rolando Villazón will expand the meta-theatrical dimension that characterizes the opera, thus opening up new potential for comedy andmoments of poetry. There is an additional protagonist, embodied by the Italian quick-change artist Arturo Brachetti, a daydreamer who seeks escape in old movies. But what if the movie characters suddenly step out into the real world to find themselves in an opera?

Cecilia Bartoli sings the role of Rosina, which is special to her as it was the role in which she gave her debut as a professional opera singer. By her side, Edgardo Rocha appears as Il Conte d’Almaviva, Alessandro Corbelli as Figaro, Ildar Abdrazakov as Basilio and José Coca Loza as Fiorello. Gianluca Capuano conducts the orchestra Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco, founded by Cecilia Bartoli, and the Philharmonia Chorus from Vienna. The premiere takes place on 3 June at the Haus für Mozart, the second performance on Sunday, 5 June.

Under the title Iberia, Javier Perianes gives a matinee piano recital on Saturday at 11 am, performing works by the Spanish composers Enrique Granados, Manuel de Falla and Isaac Albéniz. Albéniz’s Iberia, with its collection of scenes mostly inspired by places, features rhythmic zest and exhilarating pianistic virtuosity. Enrique Granados’s technically highly challenging piano cycle Goyescas is based on the art of Francisco Goya. El amor brujo by Manuel de Falla grew from a specific mixture of dance, acting and singing, as embodied by the flamenco artist Pastora Imperio.

Seville’s landmark, the Golden Tower – la Torre del Oro – lends its name to the concert on Saturday evening at the Haus für Mozart. To this day, the tower symbolizes cultural exchange between Spainand Latin America; thus, traditional music from both worlds will be heard during this concert. The musical journey begins with the compositions of Alonso Mudarra. The Sevillian composer (1508—1580) ranks among the most important Spanish vihuelists of the 16th century. Starting with his works, the musical journey continues to South America and the “living baroque” of traditional music.

Christina Pluhar has arranged the works for this evening and leads her ensemble L’Arpeggiata from the theorbo. Céline Scheen (soprano), Luciana Mancini (mezzo-soprano) and Vincenzo Capezzuto (alto) take on the vocal parts on this unique evening.

Expressive and richly ornamented singing, instrumental interludes putting the guitar centre stage, additional rhythmic effects such as interlocking clapping patterns or the clicking of castanets, andhighly characteristic dances: in flamenco, they all merge in a fascinating art form that María Pagés brought to its apogee. On Whitsunday, she and her ensembles offer a flamenco evening at the Felsenreitschule entitled Oda a la flor del naranjo (Ode to the Orange Blossom), marking the first time that flamenco takes the stage as an evening-length feature at the Salzburg Festival.

The two-works performed during the Sacred Concert El siglo de oro on Whitsunday at the Kollegienkirche are among the early masterpieces of the Spanish “Golden Age”. Cristóbal de Morales began his career as a choirboy at Seville Cathedral before he was engaged at the Sistine Chapel, thereafter returning to Spain as a famous composer. His Missa Mille regretz, however, is not based on a chorale or any other sacred model, but on a French love song. Among Morales’ students, the sevillano Francisco Guerrero stands out. Guerrero’s Missa de la batalla escoutez is also based on a chanson: Clément Janequin’s La Guerre.

Jordi Savall conducts La Capella Reial de Catalunya and Hespèrion XXI. The singers are Alessandro Giangrande, David Sagastume, Gabriel Díaz (countertenors); the tenors Lluís Vilamajó and Víctor Sordo; baritone Furio Zanasi and the basses Pieter Stas and Javier Jiménez Cuevas.

To this day, Seville’s old town is bustling with immortal characters from the world of opera, present and past. How many plazas separate the feudal estate of the Commendatore from the house of Dottore Bartolo? Where did a grumbling Leporello wait for Don Giovanni before witnessing a fatal duel? Which balcony did Figaro and Almaviva climb with a ladder in order to rescue Rosina from the house of her guardian? And where along the city walls was the tavern of Lillas Pastia, where the seductive Carmen wanted to dance the seguidilla?

The festival finale on Monday evening at the Großes Festspielhaus, the gala concert Carmencita & Friends, reads like a Who is Who of opera. Maria Agresta, Rebeca Olvera, Piotr Beczala, Plácido Domingo, John Osborn, Rolando Villazón, Ildar Abdrazakov and of course the Artistic Director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival, Cecilia Bartoli herself, sing arias, duets and ensembles by Mozart, Rossini, Bizet and Verdi. Gianluca Capuano conducts Les Musiciens du Prince-Monaco.

The film series Reflexión curated by DAS KINO offers not only current images from Spain by Pedro Almodóvar, but also the apparently more traditional ones depicted in the music and dance films by Carlos Saura (b. 1932).

The detailed program will be announced at a later date.