Salzburg festival opens amid restrictions

While many theatres, opera houses and concert halls across the globe remain closed, one of the world's most prestigious Salzburg summer music festivals opened in Austria this weekend with strict anti-coronavirus measures in place, news wires reported. The month-long event kicked off on Saturday with a performance of Richard Strauss's opera "Elektra" in a brand-new staging by Poland's Krzysztof Warlikowski.

Originally the organisers had planned a glittering array of 200 events for the100th edition of the festival, but they were forced to shelve many of the concerts, operas and theatre performances as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and drew up a much slimmed-down programme instead. There are strict safety measures on the 110 shows that are still going ahead.

All 80,000 tickets on sale, down from the usual 230,000, are personalised to enable contact-tracing in case of an infection. Spectators have to wear masks until they are seated, and there are no intermissions or catering. Artists unable to keep a distance of at least one metre from their colleagues, such as those in an orchestra, have to undergo regular coronavirus tests.

Despite “Elektra” the curtain also rose on a new production of the "Everyman" play, written by one of the festival's original founders Hugo von Hofmannsthal and staged every year here since. Also on the programme is the premiere of a new play, Zdenek Adamec, by Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke and a new production of Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte" by German director Christof Loy.

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