The courage to carry on fighting

After her great success in 2011, Isabel Karajan will be back at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2015, this time with two projects: in the Concert for Salzburg she will be the narrator in Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and she will also present a chamber music project - a “Scenic collage about fear” - entitled Miss Death meets Mr Shostakovich. She explains in an interview, why death is a woman, and why the topic of “fear” is at the heart of the project.

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Peter Ruzicka appointed Intendant and Managing Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival as of 1 July 2015

On 24 October 2014, the general assembly of the Salzburg Easter Festival appointed Peter Ruzicka as the new Intendant and Managing Director of the Salzburg Easter Festival as of 1 July 2015. The renowned artistic manager, composer, conductor and lawyer has a long international career behind him, including a period as Intendant of the Salzburg Festival from 2001 to 2006 and as Artistic Director of the Munich Biennale from 1996 onwards.
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Music as inspiration


In 2015, the Salzburg Easter Festival is staging the two famous verismo operas Cavalleria rusticana by Pietro Mascagni and Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo for the first time. Philipp Stölzl will both direct and design the sets, one of the most sought-after movie and opera directors of his generation. In this interview, he describes how he wants to tell the stories of Cavalleria and Pagliacci as if in a film.


In 2015 you’re going to be a guest director at Salzburg again, for the first time since your Benvenuto Cellini at the 2007 Summer Festival. This time, you’ll be at the Easter Festival, directing your first-ever Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. What particularly interests you about these two works?


These works are very straightforward but possess immense emotional power. They are about one thing, namely how love can be directly bound up with suffering, and how crazily far it can drive us: to burning jealousy, to humiliation, to lies, to cold contempt and to murder. That is an eternal topic in the theatre. It affects us today just as it did over a hundred years ago when these two short operas were written.


Both operas are situated “close to the people”, one could say. In both, jealousy transforms a great love into hatred - a hatred that leads to murder. Where do you see the connections between the two works?


These two operas revolve around the exact same topic, even though it is different in each case in terms of narrative and music. At first glance it seems strange that they should always be performed together. But the deeper you delve into it, the more you find that experiencing the same story twice, one after the other, possesses a great suggestive power. It’s a bit like being in a dream, or in a loop that you can’t get out of.


The stage design for Cav & Pag in the making. (c) Michael Veits


You’ll be showing Cavalleria rusticana in black and white, while Pagliacci will be in colour. Why this difference?


Cavalleria reminds me of Kafka. The manner in which the machinery of disaster is set in motion is both very clear and at the same time inevitable. This machinery then keeps on turning until the hero is murdered in an honour killing. I feel that this Kafkaesque drama can be really telling in a dark, colourless but precise aesthetic, like in a woodcut. Pagliacci has the same look - but in colour. It is a visual variation, just as Pagliacci itself is more colourful in its narrative and its music; in comparison to the “cinematic” Cavalleria it’s also more operatic. And then, of course, there’s the fact that Pagliacci plays among showmen, where colour strongly suggests itself.


What are the time and place you’ve chosen for these two operas? The impressions we got at the set rehearsal pointed to a certain degree of abstraction with regard to the period of their composition and their original settings.  


The “woodcut aesthetic” that we’ve devised naturally functions in a more graphic manner, not so much in a classical, realistic way. But within this aesthetic we quote the world of workers in Italy in the 1920s, and naturally neo-realism too. I think that the stories absolutely need the texture of a specific social setting in order to come alive. The audience has to be able to ask itself: Where are we? Who are these people? That’s what the concept of verismo is all about. I really wanted to rather get away from that fusty folklore of the old “village square in Sicily” stage setting that you always see for these pieces.



Continuation of the interview >>>

The stage design for Cav & Pag in the making. (c) Michael Veits

The 2015 programme

Please find an introduction to the 2015 programme here >>>


and both our next season's programme brochure in PDF format and a text only file with the programme below:


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