VIENNA, August 2 While many theaters, opera houses and concert halls around the world remain closed, one of the most prestigious summer music festivals in the world opened this weekend in Austria with anti- strict coronaviruses in place.
The organizers of the annual Salzburg Festival initially planned a sparkling array of 200 events for its 100th star-studded edition.
But they have been forced to put aside many concerts, operas and theatrical performances in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and have come up with a very lean schedule instead.
The month-long festival kicked off on Saturday with a performance of Richard Strauss’s blood-curdling opera Elektra in a brand new staging by Polands Krzysztof Warlikowski.
The curtain has also risen on a new production of the Each man play, written by one of the original festival founders Hugo von Hofmannsthal and staged here every year since.
But a thunderstorm forced this spectacle indoors, it is traditionally held in Salzburg Cathedral Square. And local media reports suggested the public, all forced to wear face masks, found it difficult to maintain safe distances until they were seated.
The organizers impose strict security measures on the 110 shows that are still going on.
The 80,000 tickets on sale, compared to the usual 230,000, are personalized to allow contact tracing in the event of infection.
Spectators must wear masks until they are seated, and there are no intermissions or catering.
Performers unable to keep a distance of at least one meter (three feet) from their colleagues, such as those in an orchestra, must undergo regular coronavirus tests.
Also on the program, the premiere of a new piece, Zdenek Adamec, by Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke and a new production by Mozarts So everyone does by German director Christof Loy.
Austria has so far escaped the brunt of the pandemic, recording some 21,000 new coronavirus cases and around 700 deaths.
But new infections have spiked again in recent weeks since severe virus restrictions were largely lifted.
A notable recent cluster is on picturesque Lake Wolfgang, less than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Salzburg.
Authorities insist the spread of the virus is under control in Sankt Wolfgang and elsewhere in the Alpine nation of nearly nine million people. AFP
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