Salzburg Festival kicks off

July 26, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

SALZBURG: Budget problems and widely publicised management disputes: the Salzburg Festival, one of the world’s top opera events which kicks off this weekend, has seen almost as much drama behind the scenes as on stage in recent years.

For the next month, the Austrian city and birthplace of Mozart will again welcome the cream of the music world, with singers like Anna Netrebko and Placido Domingo, pianist Lang Lang and conductors Zubin Mehta and Sir Simon Rattle performing a rich programme of opera, theatre and concerts.

But the festival’s internal problems have made just as many headlines ever since the arrival in 2012 of artistic director Alexander Pereira, who will now leave after just three stormy years at the helm.

The Austrian — who now heads to Milan’s La Scala — greatly expanded the festival’s programme, but also leaves a serious financial gap in his wake.

Under the 66-year-old Pereira, the festival gained a two-week “Ouverture Spirituelle”, dedicated to religious music from around the world, ahead of the main opera programme.

The number of performances rose and so did the number of visitors — Pereira insisted this was necessary to renew a festival that was becoming “increasingly inconspicuous”.