Austria will welcome opera singer Placido Domingo as part of the festival, pending investigations by the LA Opera, where he resigned as general director last month over sexual harassment.

In this August 28, 2019 file photo, opera star Placido Domingo salutes spectators at the end of a concert in Szeged, Hungary.
In this August 28, 2019 file photo, opera star Placido Domingo salutes spectators at the end of a concert in Szeged, Hungary. (AP Archive)

Placido Domingo is scheduled to sing two concert performances in Verdi's "I Vespri Siciliani (The Sicilian Vespers)" next summer as part of the 100th anniversary Salzburg Festival, which features 221 performances over 44 days and includes seven staged operas.

Domingo, who turns 79 in January, has withdrawn from all his US performances since reports released by The Associated Press in August and September detailed accusations against him of sexual harassment or other inappropriate, sexually charged conduct.

He received standing ovations in Salzburg at performances of Verdi's "Luisa Miller" last August and is welcome back pending investigations by the LA Opera, where he resigned as general director last month, and the American Guild of Musical Artists.

Helga Rabl-Stadler, president of the Salzburg Festival, said Domingo was engaged two years ago to sing the baritone role of Guido di Montforte on August 16 and 19. European houses have maintained Domingo's contracts.

"We do not see any reason why we should change our opinion if there are no new facts," Rabl-Stadler said in a telephone interview, adding the situation could change depending on what is uncovered by the investigations. "We have to follow the rules of our law."

Staged operas announced on Wednesday for next summer's festival include Strauss' "Elektra" directed by Krzysztof Warlikowski; Mozart's "Don Giovanni" directed by Romeo Castellucci and conducted by Teodor Currentzis; Mozart's "Die Zauberfloete (The Magic Flute)" directed by Lydia Steier; Puccini's "Tosca" directed by Michael Sturminger and starring Anna Netrebko; Luigi Nono's "Intolleranza 1960" directed and choreographed by Jan Lauwers; and Mussorgsky's "Boris Godunov," directed by Johannes Leiacker. 

Donizetti's "Don Pasquale" with mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli will return after premiering May 29 at the Whitsun Festival.

The first Salzburg Festival opened on August 22, 1920 with a performance of Hofmannsthal's "Jedermann" on the steps of Salzburg Cathedral. Its first opera, two years later, was "Don Giovanni". 

Next summer's festival runs from July 18 through August 30.

"The history of Salzburg Festival is extremely rich. It could be a burden," said pianist Markus Hinterhauser, who became the artistic director in October 2016 and has a contract running until September 2026. 

"But for me, it's really a very inspiring, very vitalising thing to look at the history. But looking back needs also to make clear that we are always trying to lead the festival in a new presence."

Concerts include eight programs of Beethoven piano sonatas with Igor Levit, five performances by the Vienna Philharmonic led by Riccardo Muti, Gustavo Dudamel, Christian Thielmann, Mariss Jansons and Andris Nelsons and two performances of the Berlin Philharmonic and new chief conductor Kirill Petrenko. 

The only US orchestra is the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Manfred Honeck.

"I'm often asked, is Salzburg here to keep the tradition or is it here to set the trends?" Rabl-Stadler said. 

"I think both. It's wonderful to have Mozart in our town, but on the other hand, we have to think how can we explain the topics of works to people nowadays."

Source: AP