Salzburg Festival Blog 28 (22 Aug)

I hear the eight gifted singers who constitute the Young Singers project of the Salzburg Festival. They sing through the programme we will present in a public concert next week. They have been here all summer and been coached brilliantly by Rachel Andrist, who is a stalwart of the Salzburg Festival since 2000, when she worked with me on ‘Iphigenie en Tauride’. Until very recently she was chief coach at La Monnaie Opera House Brussels which is where I first met her (and incidentally Christof Loy). Rachel is superbly suited to this project, instilling professional attitudes and discipline into some very young singers. They are however all extremely talented vocally. Michael Schade, who is the Artistic leader and front man for this scheme pops in for a few minutes. Like me, he has the second performance of ‘Armida’ this evening.

I have lunch (in Purzelbaum again!) with Johanna Mayr, the German language coach for Glyndebourne Festival. Johanna is Austrian born, living in the UK, and part of a very large contingent of musicians who live in or around the beautiful town of Lewes in Sussex.

Before that I follow the English premiership football games online. ARSENAL 4- PORTSMOUTH 1. A word about Arsenal. This North London side which I support and for whom I have a season ticket plays the most beautiful football.They are not as physical as many British sides but play in a style reminiscent of the great Dutch side of the 1970s and also Brazil. This is entirely due to their genius of a manager, Arsene Wenger. This articulate Frenchman, born in Alsace has transformed soccer in the UK and has won the hearts not only of North London. His intelligence and wit set him apart from most British football managers, in particular the curmudgeonly, red-faced, glowering Alex Ferguson, whose bad-tempered and sometimes foul-mouthed rants present a poor public face for his (I have to admit it) talented Manchester United side. Arsene has been the most successful manager in Arsenal’s history and his current team is prodigiously gifted albeit very young. His talent as well as his powers of expression naturally make him the object of much jealousy. He speaks English better than most members of the indigenous population (some would say that this is not hard after 12 years of new Labour wrecking the education system with their maladroit social engineering) and has great skill in his handling of previously ‘difficult’ players. Arsenal have had a great start to the season,scoring 12 goals in their 3 games all of which they have won. It could be our year! Today’s game in London was attended by my former manager of the Mozarteum Orchestra, Professor Erwin Niese, a fine, honourable man whose passion for Bruckner is now rivalled by his new found passion for Arsenal!

In the evening it is our second performance of ‘Armida’. Two dear friends from Florence who are staying with me attend and are particularly struck by the Mozarteum’s passionate and precise playing. We have a quick supper in Triangel. Federico has an early start as he has concerts in Venice starting tomorrow.