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Commentary

Image courtesy of Festival d'Aix en Provence
11 Feb 2013

Festival d’Aix en Provence 2013

Plans for July’s Aix-en-Provence Festival were announced and opera is, of course, at the center of the program with a particularly noteworthy Richard Strauss production.

Aix-en-Provence Festival 2013

By Frank Cadenhead

Above image courtesy of Festival d’Aix en Provence

 

The warm climate and outdoor dining combined with the world’s great classical musicians is hard to resist.

Celebrating Verdi’s bicentennial, Rigoletto launches the season July 4 with ten performances. The London Symphony Orchestra , no less, is in the pit conducted by Gianandrea Noseda in a new production by Robert Carsen that will travel to Strasbourg, Brussels, Geneva and Moscow’s Bolshoi. The title role will be sung by George Gagnidze with Gilda sung by soprano Irina Lungu and tenors Giuseppe Filianoti and Arturo Chacon Cruz sharing the role of the Duke.

The following evening Mozart is center stage with a revival of the 2010 Don Giovanni with Marc Minkowski conducting the in-residence London Symphony Orchestra. In the controversial Dimitri Tcherniakov production, Rod Gilfry is the Don with Kyle Ketelsen as Leporello. Maria Bengtsson sings Donna Anna with Sonya Yoncheva as Elvira and tenor Paul Groves as Ottavio. Both operas will be onstage in the courtyard of the Archbishop’s Palace, the traditional home of opera at Aix.

A new opera, in English, premiers the following night, The House Taken Over by the Portuguese composer Vasco Mendonça, 35. The opera’s libretto, by English playwright Sam Holcroft, is based on the book of the same name by Julio Cortázar. Cortázar describes his book as “a nightmare I had. I got up immediately and wrote it.” It tells the story of an aging brother and sister living in their parent’s mansion and gradually displaced by unseen spirits. It will staged at the outdoor theater at Domaine du Grande Saint-Jean and many will picnic on the lawns before the curtain rises.

Acclaimed director Patrice Chéreau has been enlisted to stage a new production of Strauss’s opera, Elektra. His work for the opera stage is already iconic and this event, alone, will guarantee international attention. Opening on the 10th, Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct the Orchestre de Paris with Evelyn Herlitzius in the title role and Waltraud Meier as Klytaemnestra. The starry cast also includes Adrianne Pieczonka as Chrysothemis with Orestes sung by baritone Mikhail Petrenko. After only five performances in the Aix Grand Théâtre de Provence, the production will be seen later at La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera, the Liceu in Barcelona and Berlin’s Staatsoper.

Europe’s continuing exploration of new baroque repertoire shows no sign of flagging. Elena of Francesco Cavalli will have its first staging in more than 350 years. This 1659 opera, described as both entertaining and profound, will be performed in the intimate confines of the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume with Leonardo García Alarcón conducting his Cappella Mediterranea. Singing will be several former members of the festival’s Académie européenne de musique which runs concurrently.

As usual there will be concerts with both the London Symphony and Orchestre de Paris, plus a variety of recitals, seminars, chamber music concerts, etc. Some performances will be recorded for television broadcast and commercial recordings could be an eventuality. Specific information and details are at the festival’s website.

Frank Cadenhead

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