The 65th annual Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, under the leadership of General Manager Bernard Foccroulle, will feature five opera productions, a selection of orchestral concerts, recitals, chamber music performances, world music programs, and more than 50 events from the 16th annual European Academy of Music. The Festival marks important milestones this year: Giuseppe Verdi and Richard Wagner's 200th birthday anniversaries; Benjamin Britten's centennial; the 50th anniversary of Francis Poulenc's death; and celebrates Marseille-Provence 2013, European Cultural Capital for the year. All events unfold in extraordinary venues, many of them open-air, in and around the picturesque ancient Provençal city: a Medieval archbishop's palace, an 18th century Italian-style theatre, a private courtyard hidden behind doors dating back to the time of Louis XV, and an 11th century Romanesque chapel inside the grounds of a Renaissance castle - as well as a state of the art, 1,350-seat theatre. The official portion of the Festival runs from July 4 to 27, 2013.
"For years, the Festival d'Aix has been eager to nurture the intersection of southern European, north African and Middle Eastern cultures," says Bernard Foccroulle. "This year, besides celebrating great anniversaries and giving our audiences an exceptional season, Marseille-Provence 2013, European Capital of Culture, has given us the opportunity to open ourselves up to Mediterranean cultures both near and distant. Besides an inter-cultural dialogue, the Festival's 2013 program also provides the opportunity for fertile exchanges between tradition and modernity and between historical legacies and the future."
The five 2013 productions continue the Festival's longtime reputation as one of the world's foremost opera producers. This season's program, which includes three new productions and a world premiere, spans the 17th through the 21st centuries. It offers a vast variety of musical and dramatic styles, exemplifying the triple mission of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence: to present innovative productions of operatic classics; to support the creation of new works by today's leading composers; and to bring back forgotten masterpieces to the stage.
At the Grand Théâtre de Provence, stage director Patrice Chéreau and Esa-Pekka Salonen, conducting the Orchestre de Paris, take on the challenge of Richard Strauss' powerful Elektra, who will not rest until she has avenged the murder of her father Agamemnon. Hugo Von Hofmannstahl's libretto makes of Sophocles' ancient drama a searing statement on the human psyche, underlined by Strauss's muscular score. Singers Evelyn Herlitzius, Waltraud Meier, Adrianne Pieczonka and Mikhail Petrenko lead the outstanding cast. This new co-production with the Metropolitan Opera, Finnish National Opera, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and Berlin State Opera, features sets by Richard Peduzzi.
At the Théâtre de l'Archevêché, the new production of Giuseppe Verdi's masterful Rigoletto by Robert Carsen showcases a talented young cast that includes George Gagnidze, Irina Lungu, Giuseppe Filianoti, Arturo Chacon Cruz and Gábor Bretz in this popular adaptation of a Victor Hugo story about how a duke's jester sets off a tragic series of events when he tries to protect his daughter Gilda from the harsh realities of love. Maestro Gianandrea Noseda leads the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Mozart's Don Giovanni returns to Aix in the acclaimed production by Dmitri Tcherniakov at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché. Marc Minkowski conducts the London Symphony Orchestra, with the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir as well as a cast of rising stars including Rod Gilfry, Kyle Ketelsen, Maria Bengtsson and Paul Groves in this much-lovEd Morality tale about a philanderer's just desserts adapted by Lorenzo da Ponte.
Returning to Aix following last season's triumph with Written on Skin, Katie Mitchell directs the world premiere of Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça's The House Taken Over. With a libretto adapted by Sam Holcroft from the novel Casa Tomada by Julio Cortázar, the opera follows the psychologically dark story of a brother and sister whose lives grow ever narrower and more claustrophobic inside their ancestral home. The roles of the two siblings will be premiered by Oliver Dunn and Kitty Whately. Etienne Siebens will conduct the Asko|Schönberg Ensemble at the historic Domaine du Grand Saint-Jean, which eerily echoes the country house in Cortázar's story.