Women Involved with Salzburg Festival’s Early Success Steal the Show at Second Max Reinhardt Symposium

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Aug 20, 2019
by Oscar Tollast
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Women Involved with Salzburg Festival’s Early Success Steal the Show at Second Max Reinhardt Symposium

Actresses, singers, directors, and intellectuals at the founding of Salzburg Festival put in the limelight at this year’s symposium Helga Rabl-Stadler, president of the Salzburg Festival, in conversation with actor Michael Heltau in Schloss Leopoldskron's Great Hall

While much is said of the “founding fathers” of the Salzburg Festival – Max Reinhardt, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Richard Strauss – little is said of the women who played leading roles in its formative years.

This year’s Max Reinhardt Symposium, a co-production between Salzburg Global Seminar and Salzburg Festival, aimed to change this narrative and sing a different tune.

Salzburg Global Seminar president and chief executive officer Stephen Salyer provided the opening remarks at this year’s event, which once again took place at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria – the former home of Salzburg Festival co-founder Max Reinhardt.

Speaking in the Max Reinhardt Library on Wednesday, Salyer said, “We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the Festspiele, begun last year and culminating in its 100th anniversary year in 2020. 

“This year’s symposium concentrates on the key female figures from the cultural life of Salzburg who played important roles in the first years of the Festival.

“At Schloss Leopoldskron, and across our year-around seminars, Salzburg Global seeks to keep alive the creative spirit of Max Reinhardt through our Arts and Culture Programs…

“In 2020, our partnership with the Salzburg Festival will extend to performances here in Schloss Leopoldskron, Reinhardt’s home from 1918 – 1938, with actors and audiences moving room-to-room as Reinhardt preferred during his time living and creating here. 

“We also hope to complete by next year’s Festival the renovation of Reinhardt’s Red Room, the place where he and his co-founders laid plans for the first Salzburg Festival….

“It is a great honor for Salzburg Global to collaborate in these ways with the Festspiele, and with its wonderful leadership team.  Deepest thanks to all of them and to today’s speakers for organizing this event.”

Guests were also welcomed by Helga Rabl-Stadler, president of the Salzburg Festival, and Margarethe Lasinger, director of dramaturgy and publications for the Salzburg Festival.

In the morning, these speakers included art historian Sabine Fellner, singer Rosamund Cole, and cultural scientist Theresia Klugsberger.

Meanwhile, Edda Fuhrich, a research associate at the Max Reinhardt Research and Memorial Center, spoke with former Stuttgarter Zeitung editor Sibylle Zehle about the women side by side with Reinhardt: Helene Themig and Gusti Adler. Hedwig Kainberger, from Salzburger Nachrichten, helped moderate the discussions.


View full set on Flickr

After lunch, a discussion took place which put the spotlight on the work of ballerina, choreographer, and opera director Margarete Wallmann.

Wallmann participated in the Salzburg Festival on several occasions, combining “various modes of modern Expressionist dance” into one whole. She directed the movement in a series of theater and opera productions at the Festival, including Reinhardt’s Faust.

Her career and impact were discussed by former ORF editor Ulrike Messer-Krol and Irene Brandenburg, research assistant at the Department of Music and Dance Studies at Universität Salzburg.

Following a brief intermission, the symposium closed with a discussion between Rabl-Stadler and actor Michael Heltau. The German star attended the Max Reinhardt Seminar, the School of Drama at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Since 1964, he has regularly appeared at the Salzburg Festival. This includes a performance as Guter Gesell in Jedermann, directed by Helene Thimig.

Since the Salzburg Festival was established in 1920, it has emerged as one of the most important festivals for opera, drama, and concerts. Reinhardt intended for the festival to bring people together, not only as a “luxury good for the rich and saturated but also food for the needy.”

This year’s festival started on July 20 and comes to an end on August 31. Learn more about the festival by visiting: https://www.salzburgerfestspiele.at/summer.

This symposium was conducted under the auspices of Salzburg Global Seminar - Austria.