The Salzburg Festival has embarked on an ambitious program to commission contemporary work under new artistic director Alexander Pereira.
New operas will be coming from composers Gyorgy Kurtag, Marc-André Dalbavie, Thomas Adès and Jorg Widmann, Pereira announced Thursday.
"Salzburg has to be adventurous," said Pereira, who oversees the festival for the first time in 2012.
"The fact that we decided to commission these works means Salzburg wants to be ahead of the newest developments. These elements were very important to me, that Salzburg pushes forward the development of contemporary music."
Hungarian composer Kurtag is composing the first opera to be staged: a work based on Samuel Beckett’s Endgame that will open in 2013. Kurtag, 85, is not known for opera, but has created much vocal solo and choral music.
From 2013 to 2016, there will be a new opera each summer at the Salzburg Festival, considered one of Europe's premiere festivals of drama and music. It has premiered many new works, including Richard Strauss' Die Liebe der Danae and Kaija Saariaho's L'amour de loin.
Dalbavie, a French composer, is to create an opera based on Richard Powers' 2003 novel The Time of Our Singing for the 2014 festival. The novel follows the love story of a German-Jewish physicist and a black woman from Philadelphia in 1939 and the progress of their children as they battle racial prejudice in America.
Dalbavie premiered his first opera, Gesualdo (based on the life of composer Carlo Gesualdo), at the Zurich Opera, where Pereira had served as director.
Adès is a British composer and conductor known for The Tempest, which premiered at The Royal Opera in London in 2004 and is playing at New York's Metropolitan Opera next season.
Widmann is a German composer. His Das Gesicht im Spiegel (The Face in the Mirror), a futuristic work about cloning, opened at the Munich Festival in 2003.
Known for its conservatism under Herbert von Karajan, who served as director from 1957 to 1989, the Salzburg Festival took an avant-garde turn under Gerard Mortier in the early 1990s.
The next edition of the festival runs July 20 to Sept. 2, 2012.