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Breaking: Salzburg gets rid of Pereira

The flamboyant festival intendant is out. His last festival will be in 2016, ending a single five-year term.

It appears the directorate refused his request for a contract renewal, after Alexandra Pereira had gone around declaring that he could leave at any moment and was considering an application for the La Scala vacancy, which falls in 2015.

He had previously fallen out terminally with the Vienna State opera music director Franz Welser-Möst (who is being mentioned as a possible titular heir), been rebuked by the mayor and held shouting matches with the festival president, Helga Rabl-Stader.

Pereira has denied he put in a renewal request. ‘I did not deserve to be dealt with in this way,’ he said this morning.

A Viennese whose appeal rested on a 20-year spell as head of the Zurich Opera, which he raised to international rank, Pereira grew high-handed with success and offended provincial sensibilities with his exotic girlfriend. His ego will not be missed. But he was the most successful fund-raiser Salzburg has seen since Herbert von Karajan, collecting around a third of his budget from wealthy backers. The  next intendant will need to show comparable credentials with the über-wealthy classes.

pereira girl

photo courtesy

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  1. Rudolph Tang says:

    I was in Salzburg Festival last year for a press conference of Zimmermann’s Die Soldaten and saw Pereira. He reassured the press members by promising “I will answer 100 questions from you after the press conference” but left abruptly in the middle of the event, after he criticised one of the local music critic.
    A quite showy businessman I have to say.

  2. Definitely a hot girlfriend!

  3. I would …

  4. Don Ciccio says:

    If I am not mistaken, Pereira was the boss of the Konzerthaus in Vienna – where he did a good job – before going to Zurich.

    • Michael says:

      Yes you are right he was in the Konzerthaus in Vienna and he did like in Zurich an excellent job!

  5. Wolfgang says:

    Sorry, Mr. Pereira may have done some good things, but that is actually quite easy when you have a budget of approximately 60 million Euros to run a festival for a few weeks! Even then, he went over his agreed budget by 5 million Euros of taxpayers’ money! The secret of a truly great director is get the most with the least, without hurting the quality. Even a mediocre director, when given such a tremendous budget, would be hard pressed to not be able to achieve anything. So no, Mr. Pereira is not a great director. He is a director who is able to spend enormous sums of taxpayers’ money in order to please and entertain the super elite of the Salzburg Festival. Obviously, he has many admirers, as many of them have benefited from being the recipients of his lavish budget and they will all be certainly sad to see him go and along with him their big payouts.
    Somebody should take a look at the projects that are upcoming, as I have been told that the expenditures for the Mozart opera productions that should have been done by Welser-Möst and now being taken over by Eschenbach are astronomical. Eschenbach is a weird choice and a very weird conductor, as his opera productions in the past have not met with great success. Many still remember his being booed in Bayreuth with a Parsifal that was boring beyond belief and detested by the vast majority. His fees and greed are apparently well-known as well, so this seems to be one of the reasons why Mr. Pereira exceeded his budget by no less than 5 million! Sorry, but thise times are over, especially in light of current financial realities.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      My understanding is that “only” about 12 million Euro come from the taxpayers, and that a lot of that money flows back into the community in the form of taxes and profits from tourism – but I don’t know how solid the information is I have. Does anybody know more?

  6. In Paris we know for a long time that Eschenbach is a bad, and very expensive, conductor…

    • Michael says:

      If he is expensive or not, this is artisticly not important, he is one of the best Strauss and Mozart conductors alive.
      Specially for Paris I have the best memories about his baton work in Arabella with Karita Mattila and Thomas Hampson.I heared him in Ravinia summer home of the Chicago Symphony conducting Beethoven, a once in a live experience! He is definitly not bad as you put it!

  7. Michael says:

    The socialist Mayor of Salzburg Mr. Schaden was from the start a Pereira critic. He tries to be cooking his own soup and plays his political games. Salzburg should be happy to have in this difficult economical time some one as Pereira.
    Salzburg politicians also mopped the Guggenheim people out, upfront Mr. Schaden, who delibritly missinformed the people of Salzburg, got a public vote against Guggenheim and now the people of Salzburg feel sorry that Guggenheim moved to Bilbao and made one of their most succesful museums there. 1 million visitors per year count be wrong.
    Nobody in the past since Karajan raised so much funds from sponsors for the festival as Mr. Pereira did within the last 2 !! years. He raised more sponsor money as taxpayers pay to support the festival. To critisice him for spending money which mostly he raised personally to improve the Festival is quite short sightedand dum. The exchange of Mr. Welser Moest and to find Mr. Christoph Eschenbach was in my view a bravour example of Mr. Pereira’s qualities. Mr. Eschenbach is one of todays best Mozart, Strauss and Schubert conductors.

    Mr.Pereira is still the Artistic Director and in his job. There are lot elections this year in Austria
    and a lot of hot air is blown specially by the socialists due to their very bad performance in Salzburg.
    Will see after the elections who will be in power.

    • I was a witness, as a long time Philadelphia Orchestra subscriber, of Eschenbach’s near destruction of our great orchestra. Both the musicians and many of the audience’s dislike of him was palpable during so many concerts and the concerts were often so bad, so unenjoyable, that I seriously considered cancelling my subscription. All tempos slowed down to near death speeds and every ritardando exaggerated into farce. That is not, for me, music making, but rather self indulgence of the highest order. Fortunately, the orchestra took notice of this dreadful Eschenbach situation and put him out, which I understand they did in Paris shortly after. Once, I went backstage to great pianist Andre Watts, who was the soloist for the concert and a friend of many years. While backstage, Maestro Eschenbach was standing in the corridor with a bizarre expression on his face. Out of politeness, I walked up to him to say hello and thank him for what was, on that particular evening, an acceptable concert. He just stared at me blankly, muttered something inaudible and ran into his dressing room and slammed the door behind him! People standing nearby just rolled their eyes. That would be fine, if his music making would be consistent and well executed, which more often than not, it wasn’t. Believe me, he is not missed in Philadelphia!

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        I know many in the NDR SO were also very happy to get rid of him. He only got the job in Hamburg because he is politically very well connected there. That’s also why he is at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival whose orchestra academy was once one of the best in the world, with the likes of Celibidache and Bernstein teaching there. Now it is all mediocrity. Mr Eschenbach is probably not a “bad” conductor but I think very few think he is a really good or “great” conductor (whatever exactly that may mean). He may have been an excellent pianist, but I know a lot of musicians who have worked with him who think as a conductor, he is just a poser. But he is very well connected and with orchestras as good technically as they are these days, it is easy for a poser with some quirky ideas on the podium to get away with that.

      • BrianFromDC says:

        I can’t speak about Eschenbach’s time in Philadelphia, though I see he has been invited back to conduct the orchestra since then. But his guest conducting engagements in the next few months would indicate a few pretty good orchestras that apparently value his talents: Boston, Munich, NDR SO, Vienna Phil, San Francisco, Orchestre de Paris, DSO Berlin, Vienna State Opera, Filharmonia della Scala. Let’s not prejudge his upcoming Mozart in Salzburg. This August those of us who don’t have tickets will have plenty of opportunity to read the reviews of the those who do.

    • Michael Schaffer says:

      A little googling shows that Schaden (whose nomen perhaps is omen – Schaden means “damage” in German) only became mayor of Salzburg in 1999 but Bilbao approached the Guggenheim to build the museum long before that – in 1991. So what you said doesn’t I seem to add up..

      BTW I also found out that Schaden was among the victims of the Costa Concordia shipwreck!

  8. Novagerio says:

    Pereira did everything for Welser-Möst in Zürich! Does anybody know what happened between them recently?

    • After their different views about timing of production and rehearsal time and Mr. Welser Moest aprupt resignation as conductor of the Da Ponte opera’s project in 2014,2015 they again came together this winter and cleared their air between themselfs. I understand that now they again pull on the same string and have a mutual understanding of future projects.

  9. Dear Michael,

    I think Arabella was conducted by Christoph ….von Dohnány !!

    • Sorry defintly not. Eschenbach conducted in 2002 at the Teatre du Chatelet Arabella with Hampson and Mattila.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        Definitely yes. It is easy to verify from many sources that it was indeed Dohnányi who conducted these performances and the Philharmonia of which he was principal conductor at the time played in the pit.

  10. Provincial sensibilities of Zurich? That’s what I would call a London hybris :-) I don’t think Mr. Pereira left Zurich because the city was so shocked about his wife. Rather, he blackmailed the authorities with a proposal from La Scala, exactly as he now did again in Salzburg. Zurich gave the blackmailer what he wanted first and started to look for a new director. Eventually, they did find Mr. Homoki in Berlin, who gladly came and is doing really well now.

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