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Breaking: Huge rift at Salzburg as next summer’s Mozart is left headless

Franz Welser-Möst has withdrawn from conducting the three Da Ponte operas at the 2013 summer festival, blaming insufficient rehearsal time.

Photo (c) Lebrecht Music&Arts

FW-M, who is music director of the Vienna State Opera and regular conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic which will play the Mozart cycle, is not a man to cut corners on grounds of familiarity. He has also complained of too short recovery periods for singers between one opera and the next.

This, however, is not about a scheduling dispute. FW-M has been showing signs of resenting the high-handedness of Salzburg director Alexander Pereira. The two worked together for 15 years as partners at Zurich Opera, with Pereira taking the senior role and sheltering his conductor from the consequences of the press negativity he had faced at the London Philharmonic. He was, to an extent, Franz’s mentor and that relationship could not continue unreformed while the conductor emerged as a power in his own rights. Pereira, it seems, failed to see the signs of dissent.

He was abroad when Franz announced his abrupt withdrawal and has yet to respond. He will have no trouble finding a spare maestro or three for the Mozarts but future relations between Salzburg and Vienna seem set to be turbulent – and others will be sure to stir


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  1. Finally, a man who is interested in ART and the quality of it not the spectacle it has become, now if we would have half of the Directors and Casting Offices get out of the business the Opera world would be a happier place. Finally singers are being put back as important. Thank you Franz Welzer-Möst !

  2. He gave these good reasons:

    “…und zwar weil ich aus dem gedruckten Programm erfahren habe, dass es Aufführungskonditionen gibt, die meiner Meinung nach so nicht machbar sind”

    beklagte gegenüber dem ORF kurze Abstände zwischen den Aufführungen: “Wenn man drei Vorstellungen von Cosi (fan tutte, Anm.) innerhalb von weniger als fünf Tagen ansetzt, ist das einfach musikalisch für die Sänger nicht machbar.”

    “Inakzeptabel für die Sänger”

    Noch am Donnerstag antwortete er in der Zeitschrift “News” auf die Frage, ob im Salzburger Mozart-Zyklus eine Vorstellung um elf Uhr vormittags angesetzt sei: “Das kann ich mir nicht vorstellen, es war mit mir auch nicht abgesprochen. Das wäre ja einzigartig, inakzeptabel für die Sänger, die dann um drei Uhr früh aufstehen müssten, um stimmlich entsprechend vorbereitet zu sein. Nach einem Blick ins Programm erklärte er: “Ich werde sicher um elf Uhr keine Oper dirigieren.”

    in short:

    1. conditions unacceptable for singers, too short intervals between and too early hours for the performances of Cosi

    2. He had to learn of this through the press, he is p*ssed…

  3. I think that as Norman has rightly commented, this has very little to do with scheduling or singers’ health. So not this time, Ragna…

    • I am basing my opinion on what is written in German and some other articles I have read today on the subject. Realist seems to have pointed out clearly in his point 1. no one thinks about what is best for the music and the singers, players as well as conductors you may get away with it for the first two performances but maybe by #3 it may show. The voice needs 48 to recover from a hard night of work and not to mention not all singers are the same or conductors arms and back. FWM has been of late putting his foot down on this very matter and saying “no” to the norm and caring for ART. not looking for an argument

  4. With all the tumult in the arts at this time, this announcement hardly comes as a surprise. Could it be that the entire underworld of music that contributed to the untimely death of Wolfgang Mozart is now in the process of being destroyed?

  5. Martin Bookspan says:

    While I am not normally a champion of F W-M, I recently attended a performance of Mahler 3 he gave here in Miami with the Cleveland Orchestra that was absolutely heaven-storming, one of the best and most moving of that Symphony I have heard in more than 70 years of concert-going. Perhaps he was thrust into “the big time” too early and is only now coming into his musical maturity.

    • Martin said, “While I am not normally a champion of F W-M, I recently attended a performance of Mahler 3 he gave here in Miami with the Cleveland Orchestra that was absolutely heaven-storming, one of the best and most moving of that Symphony I have heard in more than 70 years of concert-going. ”

      How exciting for you. I am trying not to be envious. There is just never enough great Mahler.

  6. Ray Lindsay says:

    Bravo for Franz W-M! The world needs another tepid performance of these da Ponte operas like a hole in the head; a great performance or series of performances, on the other hand would add to the already stellar Reputation of Salzburg.

  7. The vanity of those tow chaps is ridiculous. FWM started a Mozart cycle in Vienna that bored critics and audiences (not his friend Mr. Sinkowicz who is praising every single work of the conductor to the laughter of many) and now seems to fall out with his former protégé Alexander Pereira. It is known that those two cannot stand each other any-more but as Pereira is running out of ideas (have a look on the website for the potpourri he is offering) and asked FWM after his disastrous start in Vienna with Mozart to bring it to Salzburg. Most singers come from the second rate ensemble in Zurich like many in Pereira’s programming for Salzburg. One questions why so many people still go there every summer as one could see much better performances elsewhere for lower prices. Though Verdi’s Don Carlos sounds promising with a cast including Kaufmann and Harteros (the dream team from Munich last year) under the Salzburg debutant Tony Pappano – however his house in London offers those tow with a better surrounding as Mariusz Kwiecin and Feruccio Furlanetto are by far a better pack than Salzburg is offering with veteran Matti Salminen (not for Verdi) and Thomas Hampson (not Verdi either). Peter Stein as director in Salzburg sounds prominent but his last Macbeth there with Riccardo Muti was a boring experience but mostly liked by the even more boring Salzburg audience who normally does not attend any other opera house during the year.

    • Tristan said, “FWM started a Mozart cycle in Vienna that bored critics and audiences…”

      It is ironic and humbling that so many perport to know how Mozart should be performed and so few really do that well. To my ear, in fact, way too much of the Mozart I hear is mangled.

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