Edinburgh International Festival10 August to 2 September
This year, Edinburgh International Festival runs from 10 August to 2 September, and as always, the programme is packed with exciting opera, dance, theatre, and classical music events. The Festival, which is supported by the Scottish Arts Council, was founded in 1947 and is now recognised as one of the most important cultural celebrations in the world.
The Festival programme is presented annually in six major theatres and concert halls over three weeks at the end of the summer. As well as this, there is a year-round programme of education and outreach work which is aimed at all ages from primary school pupils to adults.
Highlights at Edinburgh International Festival 2007
This year’s highlights include The Bacchae from the National Theatre of Scotland – the world premiere of a new version by David Greig, starring Alan Cumming, Scottish Ballet in a co-commission from American choreographer Stephen Petronio, and the Festival debut of Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu performing On Danse. Other highlights include this year’s opening concert, Candide, featuring the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Tiger Lillies, and Optical Identity.
Behind the Scenes
Behind the Scenes is a brand new series for Festival 2007. It takes you backstage and into the rehearsal room offering a rare glimpse of performing arts practitioners at work. It's an opportunity to find out how new work develops and offers insights into the creative process behind Festival events.
Theatre highlights at the Festival
One of this year’s big highlights is a new version of The Bacchae by David Greig, performed by the National Theatre of Scotland and directed by John Tiffany. This is the world premiere of a new adaptation of one the greatest of all Greek tragedies. Multi-award winning Scottish actor Alan Cumming stars as Dionysus, who returns home with his cult of female followers to exact his revenge, unleashing the full force of female sexuality on the city. The performance marks Alan Cumming’s return to the Scottish stage for the first time in seventeen years, and the work is the second successive co-production between the Festival and the National Theatre of Scotland.
The Wooster Group’s production of La Didone is another of this year’s Festival highlights. The production takes up a work from the days when opera was an emerging artform and adds video imagery and electric guitar into the mix. Adding another Italian cultural work of art, the Group brings into collision the ancient shipwreck tale of Aeneas and his Dido with the crashed spaceships of Mario Bava’s 1965 Sci-fi B-movie horror film, Planet of the Vampires.
Dance Highlights at the Festival
Olivier-award winning Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu will be performing On Danse, a visually stunning new production from choreographers José Montalvo and Domimique Hervieu. This extravagant, sensual piece is inspired by the operas of Jean Philippe-Rameau, which had elaborate ballet interludes. There will be a melee of diverse contemporary styles, from ballet to jazz and hip-hop to belly dancing.
Scottish Ballet will be presenting a programme consisting of a world premiere of Ride the Beast, choreographed by Stephen Petronio as well as pieces by Trisha Brown and Ashley Page. Stephen Petronio has earned international acclaim for his groundbreaking choreography and has forged innovative artistic partnerships with Anish Kapoor, Rufus Wainwright, Laurie Anderson, Lou Reed, James Lavelle and the late Leigh Bowery, and Scottish Ballet has already performed Middlesex George, an earlier Petronio work, to critical and public acclaim.
A second piece, For MG: The Movie, choreographed by American choreographer Trisha Brown, will challenge conventions as one dancer stands perfectly still facing upstage for the entire piece whilst others appear, disappear and jog in circles and figures of eight to Alvin Curran’s specially commissioned music.
Completing the programme is Ashley Page’s Fearful Symmetries, which was created in 1994 and has been hugely successful, receiving both Time Out and Olivier awards. The ballet’s complex construction is tightly fitted to John Adams’ thrusting, grinding minimalist score, performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
This year’s festival opens with a concert performance of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide. Candide involves a broad range of musical styles and is opera at its most entertaining. It will be performed by the Edinburgh Festival Chorus and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, with soloists Matthew Polenzani, Laura Aikin, Sir Thomas Allen, Keith Lewis, Kathryn Harries, Jennifer Johnston and Tim Mirfin.
Music Highlights at the Festival
Scottish based Theatre Cryptic and the T’ang Quartet from Singapore come together to create music to be looked at, not just listened to. Established chamber music repertoire and new music combine with interactive technologies and visuals to create a sound and vision experience – a delight for the senses. Music includes Kevin Volan’s White Man Sleeps, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh’s Mugam Sayagi for quartet and percussion, Rolf Wallin’s Phonotope 1 for quartet and live electronics and the European premiere of a new piece from Joby Talbot, known for his work with The Divine Comedy, Jack Black and The White Stripes.
Another music highlight is The Tiger Lillies, a Tribute (of sorts) to Monteverdi, with Concerto Caledonia. Cult London vaudeville trio The Tiger Lillies take Monteverdi as an inspiration and run amok with him, looking at his music upside down and sideways.