The Salzburg Festival’s supervisory board sits a week tomorrow and judging by Alexander Pereira’s recently backpedalled resignation threat they won’t be agreeing to his budget plans. Amid general talk of circuses a delightful equine analogy is enough to explain away his rashness in this sympathetic interview, and given how the racecourse is the apocryphal cradle of Denglish I can’t resist musing that the Kuratorium hopes Pereira will in future be more inclined to steal horses than make them blush.
There’s yet more horsing around, like the claim – nonsense this, but of some amusement – that Salzburg must (literally) have a ball in order to pay for operatic commissions from György Kurtág, Marc-André Dalbavie, Thomas Adès and Jörg Widmann. I don’t believe for a minute that Pereira has removed these projects from the Zentralbudget and gambled them on the financial success of a social event. Elsewhere he says his main concern is that the composers ‘finish on time’, and should that happen then a fifth commission might be in the offing. His predecessors commissioned new opera but there was ‘no continuity’ (by which he means simply that there wasn’t a new opera every year). In the traditional operatic repertoire, Salzburg needs to set its sights on ‘producing Mozart performances you can’t hear better anywhere else’ (er, with FWM?), while 2014 will celebrate Strauss at 150 and 2015 will be a ‘big Russian year’. The one conductor singled out as a must-hire is Pappano. Sven-Eric Bechtolf wants to internationalize the theatre division and if that means going the way of the Wiener Festwochen it could be interesting. On pricing Pereira says that 58% of tickets are under €90 (ähm, jubeln?) and that only the high-demand tickets are really expensive in order to price out the black market (ähm, wirklich?). Journalist Manuel Brug wins some kind of Schleimerei prize for mentioning that Pereira is descended from Fanny von Arnstein (already a well-known fact, but hey, any excuse to print ‘Urururgroßmutter’), and perhaps – though I doubt it very much – a Vienna-based interviewer would have questioned some of Pereira’s claims about his time at the Konzerthaus (Bernstein and Pollini had fewer than half the number of engagements there during Pereira’s eight-year tenure than in the eight years before him, and the Wiener Philharmoniker were no strangers to the house prior to the 1980s).
Time for other Intendanten, or as I should say, Intendantinnen news. The Bregenzer Festspiele announced earlier today that after the botched appointment of Roland Geyer their accursed search for a successor to David Pountney has reached an end. Elisabeth Sobotka, the highly regarded Intendantin of the Oper Graz, will take over the lakeside summer festival from 2015. Pountney was supposed to leave before then but had his contract extended after the Geyer deal fell through. Sobotka is a solid choice, possibly more interesting than Geyer, and I dare say Graz will remain a house worth visiting a few times a year after she leaves.