A back-stage tour of the Festspielhaus, the large + small opera house (and concert hall) complex, focal point of the Salzburg Festival, was an opportunity too good to miss. The large hall – the Großes Festspielhaus – was designed by Austrian architect and stage designer Clemens Holzmeister in 1956. It was inaugurated in 1960 with a performance of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier under Herbert von Karajan, director of the Festival from 1956-1960 and associated with it across three decades. It's the biggest opera stage in the world, although by no means the largest auditorium (2177 seats). Loads of fascinating information, and no problem taking pictures (apart from the lack of light).

The latest design of the small hall – the Haus für Mozart – was opened in 2006, replacing the earlier Kleines Festspielhaus. It was specifically designed to match the acoustic of the best Mozart opera houses elsewhere; lots of special technical stuff with materials. It was interesting to be in probably the best modern house for performing Mozart today, when only yesterday I was in the theatre in Munich where Idomeneo had had its premiere.

The very old open-air Felsenreitschule was built in 1693 as a riding hall for the Archbishops of Salzburg, and includes 36 boxes chiselled from the rocks of the Mönchsberg. It has been in use as an open-air theatre for sport, dancing and theatre performances since the 18th century, and can now be covered (as it is most of the time) for use in poor weather. The Salzburg Festival has used it since 1926. It's also famous as a filming venue for the Trapp family's concert in The Sound of Music. It was very dark in there on the tour, so up to ISO3200 on the Nikon D300!

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