At the Salzburg Festival, Myths and Reality Meet Onstage

BERLIN — A lady who kills her personal youngsters. A person who marries his mom. A king who’s ordered to sacrifice his son.

This summer time, the Salzburg Festival (July 20-Aug. 31) in Austria invitations its viewers to discover classical mythology in stage works from Cherubini’s “Médée” to Enescu’s “Oedipe.” The opera program opens on July 27 with Mozart’s three-act drama “Idomeneo” in a manufacturing by Peter Sellars, who returns to the Felsenreitschule with the conductor Teodor Currentzis after their 2017 tackle Mozart’s late opera “La Clemenza di Tito.”

The pageant’s creative director, Markus Hinterhäuser, now coming into his third season, discovered himself impressed by historic myths to create a story framework or “navigation system” for the sprawling pageant, he mentioned, which incorporates 5 new opera stagings, 81 concert events and 4 new spoken theater productions. In previous applications, he delved into the matters of energy and keenness.

Markus Hinterhäuser, a pianist and the creative director of the pageant.CreditChristian Leopold/Pressefoto Neumayr

“These nice myths create the archive for our understanding of the world,” he mentioned over espresso in Berlin. “The tales present a sort of mirror for modern battle. Everything that we think about important in tradition, music, theater and science comes from this DNA.”

The “Idomeneo” manufacturing will grapple directly with the aftermath of struggle, the results of world warming and the eagerness of the subsequent era to take issues into their very own arms. In Homer’s authentic story, the king of Crete, Idomeneus, is ordered by the ocean god, Neptune, to sacrifice his son, Idamante. But when Ilia, a Trojan princess and struggle prisoner, provides her life as an alternative, the oracle declares that Idamante will inherit the throne and marry her.

“You sense the impatience and sheer intelligence of this 24-year-old,” Mr. Sellars mentioned of Mozart by way of Skype from London, “that an entire era doesn’t wish to wait any longer to talk. It’s very transferring to be doing this whereas younger persons are within the streets all around the world saying, ‘We can’t wait.’”

The Peter Sellars manufacturing of Mozart’s late opera “La Clemenza di Tito” on the 2017 Salzburg Festival. Mr. Sellars returns to Salzburg this yr together with his manufacturing of “Idomeneo,” additionally by Mozart.CreditRuth Walz/Salzburg FestivalMr. Sellars on the Felsenreitschule in Salzburg.CreditAnne Zeuner/Salzburg Festival

Spare set parts designed by George Tsypin for “La Clemenza di Tito” will join the 2 Mozart operas thematically (Russell Thomas, who carried out the title position of the Roman emperor, additionally returns as Idomeneus). Mr. Sellars famous the “primal and deeply earthed energy” of the Felsenreitschule, a transformed 17th-century using faculty carved into the aspect of a mountain. “We don’t should make a set for that.”

The opera’s fruits in a ballet sequence, to be choreographed by the Samoan-born Lemi Ponifasio, represents for Mr. Sellars “a gesture to cease speaking, time for motion.” One of two dancers is from the island nation of Kiribati, which is threatened by rising sea ranges.

“[The people of] Pacific Island tradition have profound rituals and mythologies for understanding their relationship to the ocean,” Mr. Sellars mentioned. “These dancers will create a closing ritual that restores the balances of the universe.”

The Felsenreitschule can even be dwelling to a brand new manufacturing of Enescu’s “Oedipe,” staged by the veteran director Achim Freyer. The libretto follows the lifetime of Oedipus from his start and, in a twist of the unique fable, a grove the place he vanishes in a flash of flight. The rating, in the meantime, is a novel mix of neo-classical parts, Eastern European folklore and French harmonies.

The conductor Ingo Metzmacher famous Enescu’s deal with the human dimension of the title character, who declares that he has “vanquished destiny” within the closing act. “Oedipus is not only a title character within the conventional sense,” he mentioned by telephone from Aix-en-Provence, France. “The different characters are marginal, exist round him.”

He additionally pointed to the talent with which Enescu displays each nuance of the textual content, significantly within the third act, when the reality is revealed to Oedipus that he had murdered his father and married his mom. “The composer realized rather a lot from Sophocles,” he mentioned. “The music could be very gripping.”

In the custom of Gerard Mortier, who led the pageant from 1991 to 2001, Mr. Hinterhäuser has made it a precedence to domesticate underperformed works of the 20th century. But Mr. Hinterhäuser, who’s a pianist and founding father of the fashionable music collection Zeitfluss, which ran below Mortier’s aegis, offers residing composers their due.

A collection within the Kollegienkirche (Collegiate Church) from July 25 to Aug. 6 will revisit the oeuvre of Pascal Dusapin, who has written a number of stage works primarily based on Greek fable. In the composer’s “Medeamaterial,” a setting of the Heiner Müller adaptation of the parable of Medea, the soprano’s vocal traces reveal “a state of everlasting divide, a complete schizophrenia,” he mentioned by telephone from Paris.

Mr. Dusapin mentioned he thought of the title character, who kills her youngsters in an act of vengeance in opposition to Jason of the Argonauts, consultant “of an historic world which Jason shatters within the curiosity of political territory.”

“That’s an exquisite and horrible metaphor for the fashionable world,” he mentioned.

Alongside “Medeamaterial” and Cherubini’s 18th-century opera “Médée,” the pageant will present Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1969 “Medea” movie starring Maria Callas, which in flip had a task in shaping Mr. Dusapin’s notion of the character. “Myth is a collective consciousness,” he mentioned, “a method of telling historical past, which repeats itself.”

The director Barrie Kosky will make his Salzburg debut this yr.CreditJan Windszus

The program additionally consists of some comedian reduction with Offenbach’s “Orphée aux enfers” (Orpheus within the Underworld), a biting satire of the unique fable that marks the composer’s bicentenary. The director Barrie Kosky — identified for his flamboyant operetta productions on the Komische Oper Berlin — makes his Salzburg debut.

And the opera lineup wouldn’t be full with out the mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, who seems because the title character of Handel’s “Alcina” in a Damiano Michieletto manufacturing first seen in June at Salzburg’s Whitsun Festival (the place Ms. Bartoli is creative director). She views the parable of the sorceress, who loses her magical powers after falling for the knight Ruggiero, as an expression about love but additionally societal pressures to keep up everlasting youth.

“She turns into bare, in a psychological and a bodily sense,” Ms. Bartoli wrote in an e-mail. “At the identical time, she loses her youthful look and immediately seems at her true age — as an previous lady.” She considers this a chance to mirror upon the truth that “the life expertise of older individuals has misplaced significance. Age has turn into an indication of weak spot as an alternative of knowledge.”

For Mr. Hinterhäuser, opera is just not an event for escapism however to revisit timeless themes from a recent perspective. “We don’t dwell within the rococo or the Romantic [era],” he mentioned. “We dwell within the right here and now. The vitality of opera lies in that it’s at all times learn anew, similar to fable is at all times learn anew.”

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