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Salzburg Whitsun Festival 2018 Cecilia Bartoli | © Uli Weber / Decca

Salzburg Whitsun Festival

7 - 10 June, 2019

Salzburg Whitsun Festival was founded by Herbert von Karajan and has been a permanent highlight on the Salzburg events calendar since 1973.

The History of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival

Herbert von Karajan brought the original Whitsun Concerts to life back in 1973, in order to assuage the demands of potential subscribers to the Easter Festival. Until 1982, three orchestral concerts were performed on Whit Saturday, Whit Sunday and Whit Monday respectively by the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan.

After the death of Karajan, guest concerts by international orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra were added to the program. In 1998, it was taken over by the Salzburg Festival, who rechristened the Whitsun Concerts as the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. Riccardo Muti became artistic director of the Whitsun Festival in 2007, continuing to serve in that role until 2012, when Italian singer Cecilia Bartoli succeeded him. Since 2012, the main production from the Whitsun Festival is also performed during the Summer Festival.

The 2019 Whitsuntide Salzburg Festival: "Voci celesti – Celestial voices"

In 2019, under the artistic directorship of Cecilia Bartoli, the Whitsuntide Salzburg Festival pays tribute to many great castrati voices. The heart of the four-day Whitsuntide Festival will be a new version of Georg Friedrich Händel’s opera ‘Alcina’, featuring Cecilia Bartoli in the title role. For the first time since 1735 audiences will have the opportunity to experience a direct comparison between Händel’s own opera and ‘Polifemo, the work of his rival, Nicola Porpora. A semi-theatrical performance of ‘Polifemo’ can be enjoyed in the Felsenreitschule venue on Whit Saturday.

Other top features in this year’s programme are the ‘Gala Concert: Farinelli & Friends’ presented by Mozart ambassador Rolando Villazón in the large festival hall, and the closing concert of the Salzburg Whitsuntide Festival in the Salzburger Dom cathedral. Cecilia Bartoli has succeeded in bringing one of the world’s longest-standing, most famous and most exclusive music ensembles, the Papal Choir of the Sistine Chapel, to Salzburg. Hence, the Whitsuntide festival programme is to close with an illumination of the tradition of castrati in ecclesiastical music down the ages.

Program Overview


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