Agence France-Presse

The prestigious Salzburg Festival opens Saturday [24 July], offering a packed summer programme of opera, theatre and music, with new productions of works by Henry Purcell, Richard Strauss and Erich Korngold.
This year's edition, however, offers a little less opera than usual, as the festival gears up for an extra grand year in 2006, when it will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth in Salzburg of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
The more than month-long festival, which kicks off with Japan's Seiji Ozawa conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and ends on 31 August, features seven operas this year, compared to nine in the last two years.
Three, however, will be new productions ó Purcell's King Arthur with Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducting, an eagerly awaited production of Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier conducted by Semyon Bychkov and the first full-length opera by Austria's Korngold, Die tote Stadt, with Donald Runnicles wielding the baton.
Two Mozart works are also on the programme: Stefan Herheim's production of The Abduction from the Seraglio and the composer's CosÏ fan tutte in a production by Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann.
Apart from operatic works, there will be orchestral concerts by the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, featuring conductors Riccardo Muti, Christoph Eschenbach, Georges PrÍtre, Harnoncourt and Simon Rattle.
Guest orchestras include the Czech Philharmonic, Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and the Salzburg Camerata and Mozarteum Orchestra.
Soloists include pianists Maurizio Pollini and Alfred Brendel, mezzos Cecilia Bartoli and Waltraud Meier, and baritones Thomas Hampson and Thomas Quasthoff.

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