SALZBURG, Austria — A poster promoting this 12 months’s Salzburg Pageant bears a citation from one of many pageant’s founders, the poet and dramatist Hugo von Hofmannsthal: “Wo der Wille erwacht, dort ist schon quick etwas erreicht.”
Roughly translated: “The place there’s a will, there’s a means.”
Loads of will — together with political and monetary assets few different classical music organizations might probably deploy — is obvious right here this summer time. For its 100th anniversary season, Salzburg, bucking the coronavirus-prompted pattern of canceling cultural occasions or presenting them solely with onstage social distancing, goes forward with performances that includes casts interacting carefully and full orchestras within the pit.
Which isn’t to say the pageant has been unaffected by the pandemic. A sprawling, 44-day anniversary program has been largely postponed till subsequent 12 months. It has been changed with a diminished, 30-day schedule, by way of Aug. 30, of concert events, performs and two (as a substitute of seven) staged operas: Strauss’s “Elektra” and a manufacturing of Mozart’s “Così Fan Tutte” that was deliberate over the previous few months, virtually unheard-of quick discover for opera on this degree.
Whereas the 90 performances will happen in a rustic and area the place infections have ebbed and audiences of as much as 1,000 — about half the capability of Salzburg’s predominant theater — have been permitted, the risk stays current. On July 27, health officials announced an outbreak of the virus in St. Wolfgang, a lakeside resort city about 20 miles from Salzburg.
Markus Hinterhäuser, the pageant’s creative director, mentioned in an interview that he felt the “sword of Damocles” hanging over the artists and workers. However in Austria, he added, “we’ve measures for cultural establishments — that are 200 % mandatory — that respect the well being of the folks working and the viewers.”
The otolaryngologist (and skilled baritone) Joseph Schlömicher-Thier helped kind the pageant’s coronavirus plan, which he described in an interview as “Fortress Festspielhaus,” a reference to the pageant’s predominant theater. It places in place stricter measures than the Austrian authorities has mandated.
The pageant’s theaters will every be capped at about half their capacities; audiences will sit in a staggered, chessboard-like formation and can be requested to put on masks as they enter and depart, however can take away them throughout performances. Intermissions can be eradicated, and attendees will present their contact info with the acquisition of every nontransferable ticket, in order that they are often knowledgeable if it seems they attended a efficiency with an contaminated individual.
Artists and workers have been divided into three teams, relying on their capacity to socially distance. Singers, orchestra musicians and others who have to work together with each other carefully are within the “purple” group and are examined weekly, whether or not they have signs or not.
Different employees are divided into “orange” (these, like hair and make-up artists and pageant executives, who should carefully work together with the purple group however can in any other case socially distance and put on masks) and “yellow” (those that can at all times socially distance and put on masks). Purple and orange staff should preserve logs of their well being and contacts. Guests — together with journalists — should present proof of a latest adverse check earlier than having even distanced contact with members of the purple group.
The pageant has contracted with a non-public laboratory in order that it could actually check massive numbers of individuals shortly. For instance, the singers, choristers and orchestra gamers for “Elektra,” an organization of round 200, can all be examined on the similar time and get outcomes inside just a few hours.
“Fortress Festspielhaus” relies upon each on Austria’s usually sturdy public well being system and on the pageant’s deep pockets and connections. The pageant’s president, Helga Rabl-Stadler, served as a outstanding member of parliament for Austria’s conservative Individuals’s Social gathering, now in energy, earlier than becoming a member of Salzburg in 1995. (She initially deliberate to retire after this summer time, however has dedicated to remain on for an additional 12 months to see by way of the postponed centennial celebrations.)
“Helga right here has been improbable,” mentioned Franz Welser-Möst, who’s conducting “Elektra.” “You need to be proactive.”
And Austria could also be among the many solely nations the place classical music is a robust foyer. Daniel Froschauer, a member of the board of administrators of the Vienna Philharmonic and considered one of its violinists, described in an interview calling the nation’s prime minister instantly a number of occasions through the lockdown to plan the orchestra’s return to public efficiency.
“He mentioned he’d put it on his precedence checklist,” Mr. Froschauer mentioned. “On high.”
The Philharmonic, the pageant’s conventional home band, will play within the pit for the 2 operas and in a collection of concert events. Its members have been examined repeatedly since returning to public performances for small audiences in Vienna in early June.
“In fact, if there are clusters in Salzburg, the entire thing can be canceled,” Mr. Froschauer mentioned. “The best worth we’ve is our well being, and we don’t need to danger that.”
Though Austria had a strict lockdown from mid-March to mid-April, Salzburg’s slim streets — and its retailers, cafes and eating places — at the moment are bustling with maskless patrons. However contained in the pageant’s services, mentioned Dr. Schlömicher-Thier, “our staff are performing as if it’s nonetheless March.”
“My concern is that there could possibly be an issue with the folks exterior — vacationers,” he added. “I inform everybody to watch out the place they go.”
Whereas one pageant worker examined constructive earlier this month, the administration argues that the episode reveals the power of the system it has put in place. “That lady was in a faraway workplace and had no contact with any artists,” mentioned Ms. Rabl-Stadler, referring to the contaminated worker, who’s presently self-isolating with delicate signs. Ms. Rabl-Stadler added that the entire worker’s contacts had been examined inside hours and had been discovered to not have the virus. The pageant mentioned it might inform the press and public about each confirmed an infection of an worker, artist or ticket holder.
This bold plan comes with a considerable worth, and simply as Salzburg’s potential income has been slashed. The pageant is giving again 24.5 million euros (roughly $28.2 million) it had bought in tickets to its authentic program, and has solely 7.5 million euros’ value of latest tickets to promote. Whereas Ms. Rabl-Stadler mentioned that sponsors and donors had been beneficiant this 12 months, it might be practically not possible to have one other pageant underneath the identical circumstances.
“Each live performance is a deficit,” she mentioned. “For opera, you’ll be able to’t even speak.”
If coronavirus-related cancellations have been a headache for the opera world’s directors, they’ve dealt a devastating monetary and psychological blow to artists. The solid, director and conductor of “Così Fan Tutte,” which is being introduced in a one-act model of simply over two hours, are conscious of their privileged place at a time when few can carry out.
“It’s big luck,” the soprano Elsa Dreisig mentioned in an interview. Ms. Dreisig, who can be singing the function of Fiordiligi for the primary time, had her scheduled debut within the half canceled on the Berlin State Opera in March. Now, she mentioned, “I really feel like I’m a part of the resistance.”
The mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa takes on the function of Dorabella after two of her scheduled “Così” productions had been canceled — together with in Berlin, the place she was going to seem reverse Ms. Dreisig.
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“I do know I’m taking a danger by being onstage with folks,” Ms. Crebassa mentioned. “However I actually imagine it’s vital for everybody to begin discovering options. It’s good to look at streaming concert events, however after some time I acquired a bit depressed. This isn’t what we’re imagined to do.”
And streaming, she identified, doesn’t pay the payments. Free streams, she mentioned, had been “a good looking gesture and a present for the viewers, however I don’t imagine it could actually final. I’m in a privileged place, but when I settle for being paid much less due to the virus, or free streaming, what does that do for all artists?”
For Joana Mallwitz, a rising conductor who’s music director of the opera home in Nuremberg, rehearsing Mozart was a welcome change from months of coronavirus contingency planning.
“Right here, in the intervening time,” she mentioned, “the enjoyment outweighs every thing else.”
Not that bitter “Così” is at all times a joyful story. Fiordiligi and Dorabella are sisters whose boyfriends fake to go off to battle; as a substitute, they return in disguise to attempt to seduce one another’s lady. The ladies are on the verge of marrying the “incorrect” males earlier than the sport is revealed.
Christof Loy, who has directed typically at Salzburg and was initially scheduled for “Boris Godunov” this summer time, mentioned “Così” is nearer to him than virtually another opera. Pointing to the subtitle — “The College for Lovers” — he mentioned in an interview that “there’s a very lengthy historical past of confusion this piece.” Many artists within the 19th and 20th centuries, he added, “handled it like a silly comedy. It didn’t give justice to the deep humanity of the piece; it portrayed the ladies as too silly and too low cost.”
Mr. Loy interprets the characters’ ideas and backgrounds into their distance from each other onstage. “The piece is about how distant you’re,” he mentioned. “Very far or very shut. Not a lot in between.” As is typical of his typically visually minimalist work, the manufacturing takes place on a easy white set — although one that may open to supply a single view of a midsummer night — and in modern costume.
Mr. Loy and Ms. Mallwitz started their collaboration in June with a collection of lengthy cellphone calls. A brand new manufacturing at Salzburg would usually emerge from years of planning during which conductor and director might talk about their conceptions of the work. However the breakneck planning of this staging — to not point out the cuts to the rating — has not stinted depth: Whereas Fiordiligi is usually introduced as a prudish caricature, Ms. Dreisig mentioned that Mr. Loy and Ms. Mallwitz had been dedicated to presenting each character in his or her full humanity.
“It’s a comedy,” Ms. Dreisig mentioned, “however every thing needs to be carried out with an ethic of respecting the character you’re singing, and respecting the music. It’s a real collaboration.”
One latest night, on the first rehearsal of the work’s finale, Ms. Mallwitz led the solid by way of the rating. Then the music stands had been put away, and Mr. Loy started to stroll the performers by way of the staging. They stopped and began as they mentioned again tales and psychological motivations. Aside from the masks being worn by dramaturgs and assistants, the pandemic appeared to have receded from the room.
The lovers circled one another uneasily, singing, “Repeat the joyful music, renew the stunning tune, and we’ll sit right here within the best pleasure.” Mr. Hinterhäuser, watching from the aspect of the room, regarded, above his masks, as if he would possibly cry.
“It’s possibly the fastest-ever-realized opera manufacturing on the earth,” he had mentioned the day prior to this. “Very important, recent, surprising. On the finish, with all of the dangers and all the skinny ice that we’re on, you will need to make this attempt.”
Matthew Anderson contributed reporting.