Salzburg Festival Blog 9 (31 July)

Many phone calls regarding our soloist situation and various plans are made for possible scenarios including putting the Mozarteum Orchestra on standby for extra rehearsal with any new soloist. We expect news from Genia by midday. I spend the morning marking orchestral parts for future projects.

12.00- Bad news. Genia cannot sing. She must be careful with the incipient one. We understand but must now move fast. A few hours later Matthias has secured the services of the formidable Ruth Ziesak who has agreed to sing both concerts despite having a Lieder Abend planned for the Attersee Festival on Sunday night. The only complication is that she cannot arrive before I start the performance of ‘Theodora’. So we plan for her to rehearse briefly with me during the first interval of ‘Theodora’! The orchestra has also agreed to come in early on Saturday morning to rehearse with Ruth. 18.30 Theodora performance No.2 starts. Freiburgers play as if their lives depend on it, thrilling ,visceral music-making from them and also from our cast-confidence high after the premiere and subsequent reaction. The drama is played with utter conviction by cast and choir and we come offstage, tired but exhilarated.

The general feeling is that this performance had no feeling of ‘2nd night’ but was possibly better than Premiere. This perception of the success (or relative quality) of a performance can vary enormously from individual to individual- after all- much depends on how one feels one has performed personally-but there is also a deeper collective feeling of our quality-this feeds the performance as it is happening and transmits itself (when things are going well) in the raising of the reservoir level of confidence and risk-taking. I felt this very strongly in Thursday’s performance from the first words of our excellent ‘Valens’ (Martin Kraenzle) whose energy, intensity and menace set the stage alight like a particularly dangerous firework-display! After this start our cast Bejun, Christine, Joe and Bernarda were flying. The Salzburg-Bach Choir-who have been a joy throughout this whole period sang with total conviction and commitment. Ryland (Davies)-luxury casting as the Messenger- transfroms this small but catalytic role into a giant dramaturgical rudder each time he appears. The effect of his performance is an timely reminder of the importance of strong casting of smaller roles.

After the performance a quick drink with an old friend from Leipzig, Babette Nierenz now run the Concerts-Direction of the impressive Essen Concert Hall. Their programming is amazing. Ambitious, structured and in the best sense unpredictable. A lesson for London’s Southbank Centre!