Friday, 17 May 2013

Old home week in Salzburg

When we arrived yesterday the city looked quiet, none of the flags of the Festival were up, the theatres were closed and even at the hotel there was something different, I wondered if changes had occured
in the last 2 years since our last visit. Well today the Festival opens and I immediately noticed this morning that the Austrian flags were everywhere and so were the banners of the Festival. The staff at the hotel, like the concierge Mr. S. are back also and so are the same clients as in all previous years. This is nice because there is this sense of commonality of purpose.

We shopped a little I bought more shirts at Schubert see to console myself for  not buying that nice Sacco jacket at Lanz. The shirts are quite nice, best fabric and very well made.

We also visited Hellbrunn Castle today which was built in 1615 as a pleasure palace named Suburana by its owner the Prince Archbishop Markus Sitticus of Salzburg, who was a busy man re-building the Cathedral in Austrian Baroque style. Hellbrunn was not meant to be lived in, there are no bedrooms, but a place to give parties, go hunting and entertain guests. Archbishop Sitticus was the first to introduce Italian opera to Salzburg in 1616 with L'Orfeo by Monteverdi. Like Tivoli near Rome built by another Prince Archbishop it has all these wonderful water traps spraying unsuspecting guests as they stroll around. Everything is powered by water and gravity, including the musical organ playing an air of Mozart in the grotto.

You have to be careful because it all works rather well and quite a few people got sprayed but it is all taken with a great deal of laughter on this hot sunny day. Sitticus through his mother a Boromeo, was part Italian and he spent much of his youth near Milan. As was the fashion then, he invited Italian artists to decorate the palace and design the gardens and waterworks.
This drinks table was used by the Archbishop to serve cold wines to his guests, he sat at the head, no water there and activated the key to spray his guests. They could not leave the table because protocol would not allow it, so they got soaked.

An alley way suddenly spurts water on everyone, inside the building more hidden jets of water. All in good fun.

The big ornamental ponds in the gardens are filled with speckled trout, large sturgeons and carps, the water of the ponds is cold and crystal clear coming straight down from the Unterberg mountain, the fish appear to be floating on air. The inside of the palace is one reception room after another all designed to delight guests and surprise them.
This sculpture of a Boar with her little piglets is for our Nora our boar huntress.

The castle courtyard has a very good restaurant and I had a filet of trout for lunch, Will had a beautiful salad of grilled shrimps and scampi.

Now we are preparing to see Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, as the opener to this year's Pfingstfestspiele. With Cecilia Bartoli in the titled role and John Osborn as Pollione and Rebeca Olvera as Adalgisa.
The conductor is Giovanni Antonini with the Choir of the Swiss Radio of Lugano.

The production is a modern one, circa 1930-1940 Europe. This year's theme of the festival is Offering, Sacrifice, Victim. Each piece presented in the next 4 days speaks to this theme. Norma's libretto speaks of sacrifice and offering and of victims of political events, war, sacrifice for others.

There is a lot of reading to do prior to each representations on the work themselves and the composers.
So if you want you can study a bit, this is what I have been doing so as to better understand what I am seeing.


  1. I'm enjoying your posts. It's not quite as good as actually being there, but it certainly gives the feel of the place. BTW: how many shirts do you have? seems to recall that when you moved back from Rome, you were weeding out lots because there wasn't enough room and you had so many.Enquiring minds want to know.


    1. Cathy ah yes the shirts well I only bought 4 so far. All of the very best quality. As for the jacket it was very nice but the price $1200. I have only bought two jackets worth that much in my life.

  2. Cathy - not a word about the shirts - he was trying on a Tyrolean jacket that would cost an arm, a leg and several other appendages - so we'll settle for the shirts!