Our concert programme opens with a commemoration of the outbreak of the First World War, which marked the start of the tumultuous upheavals of the 20th century. Celebration would not be the right word here.
The war was triggered by a single bullet from a pistol and by the absence of satellite navigation in the car of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose driver had simply taken the wrong turn. When he was reversing, the car briefly stood still, presenting the assassin quite literally with sitting ducks. What began as a farce ended in tragedy. Exactly on the day the war began – 28 July 1914 – one hundred years later, we will perform Benjamin Britten's epic masterpiece, War Requiem. The work combines the war poems of the British officer Wilfred Owen, who fought in the trenches, with the Latin text of the Requiem mass. Just as at the world premiere in Coventry cathedral, the Bregenz performance will feature a German baritone, an English tenor and a Russian soprano. The concert will be conducted by the Swiss conductor Philippe Jordan and marks his debut as the new chief conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra. Music by the composer of the opera at the Festspielhaus, HK Gruber, can be heard in the second concert in our series. Ulf Schirmer returns to the conductor's podium at Bregenz for the third concert, a concert that showcases Vienna's bitter-sweet music tradition with a selection of composers from Zemlinsky to Lehár. Ulf Schirmer's return to Bregenz in my final season is especially fitting because our first collaboration took place at Bregenz, too – on my production of The Flying Dutchman on the lake stage in 1989. My departure from Bregenz will be celebrated (and this time I am sure that it is the right word) at a concert by the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra on the last day of the festival, 24 August 2014. The concert is guaranteed to be a special highlight since it will feature Mozart's Der Schauspieldirektor ("The Impressario"), which reflects the classic trials and tribulations of stage and artistic directors.
David Pountney, artistic director