SALZBURG 〓 Thielemann declared war

2019/08/25

Christian Thielemann and Nikolaus Bachler are in conflict over the management of the Salzburg Easter Festival. Conductor Thielemann is the artistic director of the festival and Bachler is the next general director of the festival. Thielemann came to the surface by expressing dissatisfaction with Salzburg’s daily newspaper “Salzburger Nachlichten”. Bachler is currently the intendant of the Bavarian State Opera. From 2020, when he will retire from the intendant, he will take over as the general director of the festival as a successor to Peter Ruzicka.

The reason they collided was over the opera to be performed in 2022 and 2023. The festival has now decided to perform “Don Carlo” in 2020 and “Turandot” in 2021, in line with Thielemann’s wishes, and Bachler agreed. Thielemann also decided that the opera to be performed in 2022 and 2023 would be “Lohengrin” and “Electra”, respectively, but Bachler did not accept it. Bachler also ordered the two works to be changed to “Der Freischütz” and “Der fliegende Holländer”.

Thielemann rebounds from the decision. Thielemann protested Bachler that he had already cast, but Bachler refused to change it again. Bachler explained that after the transition period, he had the right to make decisions about the program after 2020, not Thielemann. Thielemann then submitted a letter to the board Members that he did not agree with Bachler and that he could not continue working together. In response, the Board Members will hold an emergency board meeting in mid-September to discuss the response.

Salzburg’s Easter Festival was founded in 1967 by Herbert von Karajan, a 20th century leading conductor. The host organization is different from the summer festival. During the Karajan period, it was known as a music festival where Karajan worked on Opera performances with the Berlin Philharmonic. Even after Karajan passed away in 1989, the Berlin Philharmonic continued to appear, but they ceased to appear in 2012 after a fraudulent accounting issue emerged at the festival.

The leaving of the Berlin Philharmonic put the festival in danger. So the festival renewed the secretariat and asked Tillemann and Staatskapelle Dresden (Tilemann is the principal conductor) to perform. In response to the request, Tillemann and Staatskapelle Dresden appeared in 2013, and the festival was able to make a new start and breathed back. That is why Thielemann is a “restorer” for festival. Depending on what happens to the board’s decision, Thielemann and Staatskapelle Dresden may leave.

On the other hand, if priority is given to Thielemann’s hope, Bachler may also refuse to take office. Thielemann collided with Serge Dorny, who was the next president of Saxony State Opera in 2014. At that time, the Saxony state government, the owner of the opera, prioritized Thielemann’s hope, and Dorny was fired before he assumed office. Dorny has sued state government for unfair dismissal, and his claim was eventually approved in court, causing the state government to pay a settlement.

Photo:Staatskapelle Dresden / Matthias Creutziger


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