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TESS CREBBIN looks forward to music in Austria
during the forthcoming 2004/2005 season


The summer festival season has come to an end, autumn is here with more festivals, and it is time for music lovers to let the summer season pass review and to look ahead at what is to come.

The most prestigious summer music festival in Europe is in Salzburg and already planning is in full progress for the next year's festival. For those who wonder why Salzburg is worth a visit above the other festivals, despite its drawbacks, here are a few highlights that happened this summer. True, ticket prices are disproportionately high and there is your share of nose-up-in-the-air people walking about, but there are some things at the Salzburg festival that you won't find elsewhere.

Anna Netrebko at the Katholnigg CD store. Photo © Anja Ullrich
Anna Netrebko at the Katholnigg CD store. Photo © Anja Ullrich

Take the Katholnigg CD Store, for instance, in the Sigmund-Haffner Gasse. It is small but well-stocked and this summer visitors to the store were greeted by the sight of Russian soprano Anna Netrebko modestly mixing with the other customers there while shopping for CDs with her Italian boyfriend. Which gets us to one of the advantages of Salzburg: you will never get the chance to meet as many big-name artists as close-up as you can there during the summer festival. On a more official note, Katholnigg hosted the Deutsche Grammophon/Decca artists for their interview/meet the public sessions, presenting in a familiar atmosphere the likes of Netrebko, Joseph Calleja and Cecilia Bartoli. Netrebko got the chance to show that not only can she sing but is also really nice. She arrived for her session right on time, sans the kind of star behaviour that usually goes with opera divas, and impressed with charm and accessibility to her public. While Anna was answering questions from local journalists, standing about and all too pleased to chat with the public were classical music movers and shakers such as Bernard Fleischer, the Austrian film maker who produced Netrebko's bestselling DVD Anna Netrebko -- the woman, the voice and Jeffrey Vanderveen who is director of vocal division at IMG Artists in London and manages the career of the Russian soprano. Netrebko, of course, has a reputation for putting the love of music above everything else. When she feels that someone does not share this love, or does not prepare for a musical encounter with the same in-depth approach as she does, then she can get a bit uptight. For her meet-the-public session a local radio journalist held a question/answer session with Netrebko before the audience was invited to ask her questions. When the journalist asked whether there was any difference between singing Mozart and Rossini, Netrebko, accompanied by hearty laughter from her fans, replied: 'Of course. They are different notes and a different text.'

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Copyright © 14 October 2004 Tess Crebbin, Germany


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