The Salzburg Festival will be one of classical music’s few offerings in the summer of the coronavirus pandemic, staging a reduced 100th anniversary celebration with capacities limited to about 50%.
Europe’s top festival announced Tuesday it will present 90 performances, down from 212 originally intended.
Venues will be cut from 16 to seven and intermissions eliminated to reduce audience interaction. The only operas will be a Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte” in the Grosses Festspielhaus, limited to about 1,000 of its 2,300 seats, and Richard Strauss’ “Elektra” in the Felsenreitschule, which will hold roughly 700.
Originally set to run from July 18 to Aug. 30, the festival will now start Aug. 1. Nearly every other major summer festival in Europe and the U.S. has been canceled.
“It would have been much easier not to play, but we were founded as a sign of hope so we want to play,” festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler said in a telephone interview.
The festival had sold 180,000 of 230,000 tickets to people in 80 nations but now is limiting seats to about 70,000. Only those who already bought tickets can still attend and there will be a limit of two per person. Names of purchasers will be printed on tickets and records kept to enable contact tracing.
There are two active cases of COVID-19 in the Salzburg province, according to the Austrian government’s dashboard.
“We do not know how many people will come, how many people will say, `Thank you. We love you but we don’t come here because it’s impossible, because of health reasons or I bake bread' or something,″ Rabl-Stadler said. “So it’s like walking in a fog.”