Theatre, opera and concerts on a very large stage – the Salzburg Festival is one of the highlights of the summer festival season. However, before the curtain is raised for the first time in the Austrian town, many busy hands have been at work. The young Salzburg photographer, Lisa Kutzelnig, spent three weeks visiting the ateliers of the Costume, Make-up and Wig department: in the Leica-sponsored “The Magic Behind the Scenes” exhibition, her photos, alongside those by Alberto Venzago, are currently on display at the festival..
Q: What makes the Salzburg Festival so unique?
A: Having been born in Salzburg, I first heard about the festival at a very early age. During that time of the year, everyone is on high alert. It brings an additional touch of glamour to what is already a beautiful little town. You really should always have a camera on hand when you walk through Salzburg’s alleyways… otherwise you could miss any number of lovely snapshots.
Q: What surprised you in particular during the time you spent backstage?
A: What surprised me was the incredible complexity involved in staging each production. The idea behind this project is great. Who could imagine how many things are still hand-made.

Q: Which department was particularly fascinating to photograph?
A: Each department has its own appeal. In some I spent a few hours. In the make-up and wig atelier I never seemed to be satisfied: I saw things worth taking pictures of in every corner.
Q: At the Salzburg Festival it’s the directors and performers who are at the forefront. Does a sort of “we’re part of the festival” feeling exist behind the scenes?
A: Of course! Each individual is a part of the whole that is the Salzburg Festival. I was able to observe the great love and care that everyone put into their work. Each one of them is proud of the end product and proud to be part of these great productions.
Q: What are you hoping to get from the exhibition?
A: I think it’s lovely that those who are part of the magic behind the scenes, get a chance to be in the limelight at last.
I’m very grateful I was able to be part of this project.

Q: What equipment did you photograph with?
A: I photographed everything with the M (Typ 240) and a Noctilux 0.95/50 mm and a Summilux 35 mm lens.
Q: Were you immediately clear about taking pictures in colour?
A: No. There are two motifs in the exhibition that ultimately had to be in black and white, as they would have lost something in colour.
Initially, there were more black and white pictures in my selection. Of course, it has a lot to do with the motif, where colour definitely can’t be left out, or where black and white produces a better effect.
So that my series should be perceived as in harmony with yet distinctive from the work of my colleague Alberto Venzago, we decided that my motifs should be predominantly in colour.
Q: Where else would you like to look behind the scenes?
A: That’s hard to answer. It’s probably exciting to photograph wherever a backstage and behind the scenes area exists. After the Salzburg Festival, however, you become a bit choosy. For sure, I wouldn’t say no to being behind the scenes during the filming of a Hollywood blockbuster…
Thank you for your time, Lisa!
– Leica Internet Team
Read the interview in German here. Visit her website to see more of her work.