Salzburg Festival Blog 3 (25 July)

I wake up early with  a sense of anticipation and a few nerves. Not only must I conduct the Festakt live on TV but also the opening Festival Premiere.

It had better be a good day at the office! The Festakt  goes smoothly: the orchestra plays well-concert-master  Markus Tomasi in commanding form and Terry sings with aplomb. For all the performers it is quite nerve-racking to sit through many speeches (five in total) and then switch on for one movement of a symphony or an aria in the full glare of the TV lights and the nation’s finest.

In many ways, it’s a strange construction, but it sends a clear signal that the Austrians mean business with culture and in particular with the Salzburg Festival. By common consent Daniel Kehlmann’s ‘Festrede’ is uncommonly perceptive and edgy! I make a short visit to the reception in Karl-Boehm Saal and bump into our vigorous and youthful Minister of Culture David Brenner. He is genuinely proud of our orchestra  and how they take Salzburg’s cultural name around the world.

Back home  for a brief lunch and half-an-hour’s sleep before taking a taxi back to the Festival House to prepare for the premiere.

Presents needed for my musical team — Chris Moulds (already a fine conductor working around Europe), Brenda Hurley (repetiteur in Amsterdam and the Met as well as Salzburg), and Jory Vinnikour (a star  of the Parisian early-music scene and a virtuoso harpsichordist. Check with Ken Smith (who tunes harpsichords and organs — two of each in Theodora!) that the humidity is correct and we have  a warm-up rehearsal with the Freiburg Barock at 17.00. They are in great form and feel confident. The Bach Choir escape from costume and make-up to join us for fifteen minutes and we are as ready as we can ever be!

Christof (Loy) and husband Thomas (our dramaturg) also attend the warm-up rehearsal and this is much appreciated–so few directors attend musical rehearsals. Christof is a real team-player and even came over to Freiburg to attend our Sitzprobe rehearsals there. His attitude and deep support help to create a real sense of musical family in our group.

I do the rounds of the dressing-rooms for last minute toi-toi-tois and it is 18.30.

Four hours of great music ahead.