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Salzburg skeds int’l lineup

Fest lures North American industryites to July event

PRAGUE — Can Austria’s renowned Salzburg Festival, a must on the summer music and opera calendar, make its mark on the international theater scene?

This year’s lineup makes a good stab at it. Out of nearly a quarter-million visitors last year, 75% were foreigners. Primarily a showcase for Euro talent and German theater in past editions, the fest has lured a contingent of North American innovators to Mozart’s hometown for the July 24-Aug. 30 event.

Vanguard followers should be out in force to see the July 30 debut of New York filmmaker Hal Hartley’s musical play, “Soon.” Hartley triple threats it on this Waco, Texas, inspired production, serving as director and co composer (along with Jim Coleman) as well as author. But this time he won’t be hiding behind his film composing pseudonym (Ned Rifle).

Hartley reverses the footsteps of another cross media director, Robert Lepage, who also makes the trek to Austria. Lepage brings his production “Geometry of Miracles” to Salzburg from Aug. 20 29, following visits to the Toronto Harbourfront fest and Expo 98 in Lisbon.

Adding to the mix of inverted expectations, Robert Wilson makes his bow as a theater director with the Salzburg co production of Georg Buchner’s “Danton’s Death.” The cast features German luminaries Edith Clever and Hans Michael Rehberg. In autumn, the play settles into the Landestheater in Berlin, home of co producer Berliner Ensemble.

Back with a re-working of his 1992 production, Peter Sellars directs Dawn Upshaw in the Olivier Messiaen opera “Saint Francis of Assisi.” Also a drawing card for theater followers, Peter Zadek stages Kurt Weill’s “The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahogany,” with Salzburg opera favorites, Jerry Hadley and Catherine Malfitano.

This season’s sampling of a new generation of German director features Stefan Bachmann directing “Troilus and Cressida.” The Austrian nod goes to playwright Elfriede Jelinek, subject of an homage and day long mixed media event, as well as the premiere of her latest play. Finally, Gert Voss, current king of German actors, returns in the title role of fest tradition, “Everyman.”