Summer Festivals SALZBURG

Gerard Mortier has gone a long way towards redefining the Salzburg Festival since he took over after Herbert von Karajan's death. Above all, he has restored the place of drama, now ruled over autonomously by Peter Stein. And Stein's new production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard is a triumph, an apparently effortless fusion of farce, beauty and tragedy.

Take the moment in Act 3 when Mme Ranyevskaya (the great Jutta Lampe) opens her heart to Trofimov (Sven-Eric Bechtolf) and then, when he offers only platitudinous sympathy, turns on him viciously while reapplying her make-up, or that in Act 4, when Varya (Dorte Lyssewski) hugs a cushion while waiting in vain for Lopakhin (Daniel Friedrich) to propose. Such scenes represent some of the greatest acting, direction and design that I have ever seen.

Elsewhere, however, Karajan's legacy remains troublesome. He dictated the shape of the opera houses: dug from the rock, they embody his revenge on Wagner's Bayreuth - a temporary wooden structure where conductor and orchestra remain hidden so they cannot distract the audience's attention from the drama on stage. At Salzburg the orchestra remains in full view and the conductor is more pre-eminent than usual, visible from the waist up. It also suited Karajan that the stage in the Grosses Festspielhaus should be so impossibly wide: its 32 metres restrict audience involvement to distanced awe, so that the conductor enjoys even more power.

This year, conductors in both opera houses justified their physical prominence. To mark the festival's 75th anniversary, Mortier programmed a new production of Der Rosenkavalier. Co-written by two of the festival's founders, Strauss and Hofmannsthal, this work has long been close to the emotional heart of Salzburg - not least since Karajan chose it for the opening of the large opera house in 1960.

Lorin Maazel drew ravishing, transparent sounds from the Vienna Philharmonic. The staging by Herbert Wernicke, who also designed it, boasted an arty concept - think fin de siecle, think Schnitzler - and a technically intriguing set - angled, mirrored walls reflecting painted period decor that shimmered, rather as the music does. Sadly, Wernicke smothered the opera's humanity in vulgar routines and camp details. The Marschallin wore a lurex dirndl and her negro page was an intrusively sentimental, black-faced pierrot; Octavian appeared for the Presentation of the Rose in white and gold top- hat-and-tails on a giant Broadway-style staircase; Baron Ochs was wounded in the bottom, through his lederhosen...

Ann Murray was a wonderful Octavian, even in boxer shorts, and Heidi Grant Murphy a limpid Sophie. Cheryl Studer offered a genteel, ladylike Marschallin, rather than a grande dame, and manoeuvred her surprisingly small voice very carefully.

For the new Figaro, Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe gave a freshly inflected, continuously surprising account of the score, concerned above all with immediacy. Bryn Terfel gave an astonishingly vivid, three-dimensional Figaro in an interpretation freshly minted for Luc Bondy's new production. His splendid Susanna, Dorothea Roschmann, and Susan Graham's Cherubino responded better than others to the interpretative freedom Harnoncourt seemed to offer. Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count Almaviva sounded particularly far from home in this, his first stage Mozart.

Mortier will make his own mark on the repertory later this summer, when such 20th-century classics as Lulu, Bluebeard and Erwartung all finally make their Salzburg Festival debuts.

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence