Salzburg Festival Blog 16 (7 Aug)

5.00 am I continue markings for Haydn ‘Stabat Mater’ which begins rehearsal this weekend. Music of serene beauty from his Esterhaza years and a most extensive setting of this most celebrated text. It clearly meant a lot to Haydn as his setting runs to over 70 minutes. In fact it was not common for Austrian composers to set this Marian text in the late 18c. The tendency was to set the ‘Salve regina’. All of which speculation will not get this job done (there are many discrepancies in the urtext bowings and phrasings, which I must resolve) so I press on until 17.30.

In between, I take a brief lunch with my friend John Shea who as well as being a fine Chor-repetiteur (we met when he worked on ‘Figaro’ for me’ ) also works as an announcer for the once great BBC. (Now mired in similar expenses scandals as the government, and struggling to maintain any sort of public trust and support particularly with it’s unreliable reporting on a range of contentious issues) I tease John as to how he can live with himself peddling such misinformation, but it’s not John’s fault. He is one of thousands of brilliant people who work for this badly-led organisation. Thank God at least for Radio 3.

In the evening a first rehearsal for another new project the Young Singers Project. This project began last Festival and threw up a glittering array of talent drawn by the magnet that is Salzburg. Of last year’s alumni Levante Molnar is now on contract at the Bayerische Staatsoper (and sang for the Royal Opera House last fall) and Shen Yang, as well as winning the Cardiff Singer of the world competition, has a distinguished international career. From my first impressions this year’s intake seems similarly impressive but now is not the time to discuss them. Tonight the work in hand is to prepare the Mozarteum Orchestra for what seems to be a marathon programme. Seventeen arias!! Admitedly some are short. Mozarteum Orchestra, being an experienced opera orchestra, is quick reacting, and unlike many opera orchestras plays this music with real joy. I think our varied diet – classical symphonic as our basis, Bruckner, Schubert, Brahms, Strauss as our symphonic series roots, (Mahler to commence in October!) and opera as the third leg of our tripod – suits us well. Still ,seventeen arias is a lot and we work through twelve of them. The other five we will have to do in two weeks time as we have much to do in between, not least ‘Armida’!