Coronavirus is the greatest challenge our society has faced since the end of World War II. Never before has cultural life in democratic countries been curtailed so severely in peacetime. The Salzburg Festival was founded at a time of abject misery as a courageous project against the crisis. Max Reinhardt was convinced that only the arts could reconcile the people, even peoples, whom war had driven into battle against one another – art not as decoration, but as the food and meaning of life. The fact that the Festival can now take place in a modified and abbreviated form between 1 and 30 August makes this founding consideration – art as the food and meaning of life – appear more topical than ever.
Festival President Helga Rabl-Stadler says, ‘I did not doubt for one minute that we would perform this summer. Nikolaus Harnoncourt was convinced: “When we, the artists, are good, people leave the performance different than when they arrived.” – That is the very experience we wish to give our visitors this year, as every year.’
‘In times governed by a certain lack of orientation, the Festival made decisions which will hopefully turn out to be the right ones in retrospect. The fact that we waited to decide whether there would be a Festival was a mixture of hope, dreaming and perhaps also intuition that the pandemic’s case numbers might move in a direction which enabled people to assemble again. For that and nothing else is what a festival is about. During the past weeks, we have seen that people’s longing for such assemblies has become overwhelming. Even the virtual offerings and streams cannot quench this sense of longing, lacking any aura of art. We will experience a Festival this year that is different. We will experience a Festival with significantly fewer events, with significantly fewer available tickets, and therefore with fewer visitors. And it will be a Festival which conforms with each and every security requirement,’ says Artistic Director Markus Hinterhäuser.
‘Great as the joy of enabling shared experiences of art at the Salzburg Festival is, the health of all those involved takes precedence. Therefore, we will of course comply painstakingly with all the regulations passed by the federal government, but we will extend and exceed them if we consider it necessary, given our responsibility. In times of coronavirus, the Festival must and wants to set standards in matters of security as well,’ Executive Director Lukas Crepaz declared.