Zurich opera chief to take over Salzburg Festival

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Alexander Pereira will become the new artistic director of the prestigious summer arts festival in 2011.

VIENNA - Alexander Pereira, current head of Zurich Opera, is to take over as artistic director of the Salzburg Festival, one of the world's most exclusive summer arts festivals, organisers said late Tuesday.

Austrian-born Pereira, 62, will take over from current chief Juergen Flimm in 2011 and his contract will run through 2016, the festival's supervisory board announced in a statement.

The exact details of his contract are to be negotiated through July, but he already accepted the appointment, the statement added.

Pereira, who has headed Zurich Opera since 1991, was "a complete professional with long years of theatre and opera, and has experience of handling difficult financial situations," the supervisory board said.

Salzburg sought a new chief after Flimm, 67, announced in late 2008 that he would not renew his contract beyond 2011.

Flimm, who has run the festival since October 2006, decided to leave after a bitter dispute with the festival's drama chief, Thomas Oberender, over the standing of spoken theatre within the month-long festival of music, opera and theatre.

Other candidates included Lebanese-born Pierre Audi, head of De Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam and Frenchman Stephane Lissner, head of La Scala in Milan.

The 2008 festival, which ran from 26 July to 31 August, attracted a total 253,850 visitors and raised EUR 25.2 million (CHF 38.2 million, USD 34.2 million) in ticket sales alone, the second-highest sum after a record Mozart year in 2006.

Although tickets to Salzburg are among the most expensive in the world, running as high as EUR 370 per performance, 93 percent of all tickets were sold in 2008.

The 2009 festival, under the motto "The Game of the Mighty," features new productions of Handel's "Theodora," Luigi Nono's "Al gran sole carico d'amore," Rossini's "Moses in Egypt" and Mozart's "Cosi fan tutte." It opens on 25 July and runs until 30 August.

AFP / Expatica

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