“An Institutional Revolution”: Vienna Festival breaks all records!




“Today, the Swiss Milo Rau and the Austrian Florentina Holzinger are the most important directors in the world“, declared the news magazine DIE ZEIT this week. The two “mavericks” shook up this year’s Wiener Festwochen, together with hundreds of their colleagues from Kornél Mundruczó to Angélica Liddell and from Pussy Riot to Elfriede Jelinek: 47 theater, opera and music productions from all over the world, as well as over 100 activist and art events took place in all parts of Vienna, the capital of modernism.


96% occupancy rate and 100,000 visitors made Rau’s first year of the legendary festival the most successful edition in recent decades. Several million viewers were reached via streams on television and social media, a total of 2800 media reports were published in 25 countries, and the festival debates even shook the city and national parliaments. “That’s what I like about Milo: there’s no fear of provocation”, as Florentina Holzinger revealed to Art Basel Magazine.




The proclamation of the Free Republic of Vienna, the world’s first art republic, in front of 36,000 people on May 17 was followed by the appointment of a 100-member council, including citizens from all parts of Vienna, but also artists like Annie Ernaux or Sandra Hüller. In the Vienna Trials against the Austrian government, the right-wing party FPÖ and finally the festival itself, Milo Rau “put reality in trial” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). “The most exciting thing that theatre currently has to offer”, was how Die Welt summed up the fireworks that Europe’s largest crossover festival set off in 2024.


With the Vienna Declaration, the Wiener Festwochen became the first festival ever to adopt guidelines that set out quotas, the democratic organization of curation and ethical and ecological standards. “An institutional revolution that no other festival in Europe has delivered”, reported Agence France Presse.




But it is not just politics and discourse, but intensive structural work that is at the heart of the Free Republic of Vienna. “Frustrated by the persistent gender imbalance in classical music, the Wiener Festwochen  have this year founded the Academy Second Modernism, an initiative that will present works by 50 female and non-binary composers over a period of five years,” as the New York Times reported.


“Staging an entire city” and “creating a Baroque World Theater” – that is what Rau and his fantastic team have achieved in Vienna, according to media reports. But that’s not all: the 2023/24 season continues at the Venice Biennale (Italy) with the “unbearable masterpieceMedea’s Children and at the Aranya Theater Festival (China) with Rau’s and Edouard Louis’ performance The Interrogation. We wish you a provocative, but also relaxing end of the season!