Salzbug Festival Lays Out Plan Amid COVID-19 Crisis

By David Salazar

With the spread of COVID-19 around the world, there has been some question about whether some of the opera world’s most renowned festivals would take place. Of these, there is no doubt that the spotlight is on the Salzburg Festival.

Not only is it the most renowned summer festival in the industry, but it is set to celebrate its centennial this summer. But to this point the festival has remained rather quiet on what steps it might take given the current social context.

But now the festival’s directors have made a statement regarding the plan for moving forward.

The first phase, which was named Level 1, took place on March 16 when all Festival theatres, offices, and workshops were closed through April 13. All employees are working from home.

Level 2 of this process is set be decided upon on April 15 when leadership will determine whether to go forward with the Whitsun Festival, currently scheduled for May 29 through June 1. Per the press release, the Festival’s artistic leader Cecilia Bartoli remains optimistic about the possibilities, and alternatives are being discussed.

Then comes the big decision on May 30 when the organization must decide what to do with the big celebration set for this summer.

“Artistically, the Salzburg Festival is well-prepared for both festivals, and able to make up for the phase of inactivity caused by present closures,” says the statement. “Both decisions, however, do not depend on the Festival’s leadership, but on the development of the coronavirus pandemic and the political decisions it requires. In order to eradicate the virus, we must all stand together. Therefore, health takes priority over all artistic and economic issues.”