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Subject: Re: Accoustics of GROSSES FESTSPIELHAUS, Salzburg
From: Pieter Bijlsma <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Pieter Bijlsma <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 16 Oct 2000 10:37:27 -0400
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I strongly object to the following post!

John Dorsch wrote:

>As I listen to today's CBC broadcast of Don Giovanni from Salzburg, I am
>reminded of the horrid acoustics of the grosses festspielhaus and wonder
>why Mozart operas continue to be produced in this hall.

Principally, of course this is a commercial 'problem'. When Mozart is
played in Salzburg, your house is fully packed, and the larger the hall,
the more income you have. Above that, the stage of the Small Festival Hall
is as difficult to stage as the the Large Festival Hall. Both aren't ideal.

>I heard Giovanni there in the past and remember how distant, visually and
>aurally, the performers were in spite of sitting 14 rows stage center. Von
>Karajan tried to crank up the sound, and the singers were working much too
>hard to be heard.

Wherever you are, the 14th row in any operahouse has more or less the same
distance to the stage, so I wonder which doubts you would have visually.
The wide stage has at least one advantage, that there are no 'dead angles'
on the stage. Acoustically, I fully disagree with you. Even if it isn't the
best sounding venue in the world, I have been there very often, and even
when I sat in one of the back rows of the Hall, or balcony, I could hear
every sigh and the slightest nuance. The sound is very direct and dry,
though, but the accoustics aren't worser than in any other repertoire
theatre, there are only a few theaters (not concerthalls!), that sound
better (maybe La Scala, the Baden-Baden Festival Hall)

>I realize it is essentially a cave-hall but even the broadcast today sounds
>as though it is too far away.

The main problem here I think would be the recording engineers of the
Austrian Radio. The quality of their recordings varies widely. I heard some
very good ones (like the Tsjaikovsky 5 with the Kirov and Gergiev), and
very bad ones (like the Mahler 9 with the Vienna Philharmonic and Simon
Rattle). I heard the DON GIOVANNI broadcast myself, and it wasn't that bad
at all here in Europe. And I thought the recording was too direct. So?
Don't blame it on the Hall alone.

Best regards,
Pieter

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