Monday, 10 December 2012

Salzburg soap opera

That Alexander Pereira has chosen to speak about Franz Welser-Renegade to Gert Korentschnig, a journalist who isn’t afraid to ask a delicate question or two, is one of the reasons why for the time being this blog remains on Team Pereira. That is relatively speaking in the context of the Wien-Salzburg axis, and taking into account the ton of Vienna shit Pereira could hurl, Holender-style, in Franzi’s direction. While that doesn’t generally seem to be the pereirisch m.o., there is deflection, melodrama and everything else we’ve come to expect, as well as the strangely timed announcement of a new Kupfer Rosenkavalier.

There’s not much else in the Austrian press worth reading on this, though Tošic closes his piece with the sweet irony that FWM conducted yesterday in Vienna. At 11:00.

My translated highlights of the Korentschnig:

What is your reaction to Franz Welser-Möst’s withdrawal from the Mozart-Da Ponte cycle?
I'm very disappointed. I had hoped to convince him yet. But unfortunately that has not been possible.

What will happen now?
The cycle will go ahead regardless and I'm already in talks with other conductors. We will have an announcement to make in the next few days.

Welser-Möst complains that three performances of Così in only five days – the last of them at 11:00 – would not be viable for the singers. What made you choose these dates?
This concerns the performance on August 31st, which would not be possible in the evening for logistical reasons. Normally, the Vienna Philharmonic give their final performance on the 30th and travel back to Vienna on the 31st. They had however kindly agreed to perform on the 31st next summer, with the request that the musicians might still be able to return to Vienna at least in the evening, as they resume their duties at the Staatsoper on September 1st. It was agreed that the performance would take place in the afternoon.

So why did you settle on 11:00?
It would have been a test run to see how the public would take to the idea of a performance at this time. Unfortunately it came to pass at the last minute that we didn’t ask for Welser-Möst’s consent, but moving the performance back to 14:00 was already decided back in the middle of last week. For singers this kind of run – five performances in ten days – is not uncommon. [Pereira adds in a statement that when FWM conducted four performances of Così in Cleveland two years ago, he did so on March 2nd, 4th, 6th, 8th.] I would happily have scheduled the rehearsals earlier, but Welser-Möst was insistent that he wouldn’t be cutting short his summer vacation.

Why are you and Welser-Möst prone to fighting like this?
Franz and I have known each other for a long time. I know all his strengths and weaknesses, and believe me: his strengths are much greater. Two people who worked together intensively over many years have drifted apart, which I find quite regrettable. But now it’s all about different things. Some wonder: must we be crazy to pack so many events in the festival? Or question whether this strategy is good for Salzburg. To that I can only say that without all these new productions we wouldn’t be able to bring in the money we need. An analysis has shown that because of the costs which increase year on year, we’d have a budget hole of 4.7 million euros if we were to repeat the programme that Hinterhäuser presented in 2011. A subsidy increase is not an option. Nor do we want to increase the ticket prices. And sponsors don’t donate money to cover fixed costs, but to fund exciting artistic projects. And so we have to put on more events to maximize our ticket revenue.

In his Musikverein speech Welser-Möst was critical of reducing art to a spectacle, a commodity – without mentioning you by name. Were you offended?
It was not fair and it upset me. Look at the events we have programmed and you will see that we place great emphasis on quality; we are not churning out a standardized product here. In 2013 we are even staging a smaller number of operas than previously, and in 2014 there will only be as many productions as there were in 2009, 2010, 2011. Around then we will also be doing a new Rosenkavalier with Zubin Mehta and Harry Kupfer.

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