The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
Last Summer, due to the pandemic, most music festivals were cancelled, including, of course, the Aix-en-Provence Lyric Art Festival. Earlier in the year, General Director Pierre Audi provided information on the salient aspects of the plans for 2021 which are now public: 'Since it is critical, in a period like the one we are currently experiencing, to retain hope and think about the future, I would like to look ahead and share with you our main opera projects for the 2021 edition. This edition has been conceived and designed as a festival of great renewal. We have been preparing the program for over three years, in order to offer productions that showcase some of the most celebrated artists in the world. It has also been reconfigured to include two productions that were originally planned for 2020: Innocence, a world premiere by Kaija Saariaho, and Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel; both new productions were rehearsed last July 2020 so they could be shown to our audiences this year'.
In short, the Festival has four different venues: its first home, the open air Théâtre de l'Archevêché, the eighteenth century Théâtre du Jeu de Paume, the recently built Grand Théâtre de Provence and the Concert Hall of the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud.
The Festival will start in the Théâtre de l'Archevêché on 30 June 2021, with a Mozart opera as usual: this year it will be Le Nozze di Figaro conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock with stage direction by Lotte de Beer and with a cast featuring Gyula Orendt, Jacquelyn Wagner, Julie Fuchs, André Schuen, Lea Desandre and Emiliano Gonzalez Toro. The Théâtre de l'Archevêché will host also the much awaited Barrie Kosky staging of Verdi's Falstaff with Daniele Rusioni conducting the Lyon Opera orchestra and chorus as well as Christopher Purves, Stéphane Degout, Juan Francisco Gatell, Carmen Giannattasio, Daniela Barcellona and Giulia Semenzato as the main singers. The opening night is on 1 July 2021. The performances of Le Nozze and Falstaff will alternate throughout July in the Théâtre de l'Archevêché. In the same venue, in the latter part of the Festival, another Kosky production will be staged: Rimsky-Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel, conducted by Daniele Rustioni with the Lyon Opera orchestra and chorus and Dmitry Ulyanov, Nina Minasyan, Andrei Popov, Vasily Efimov, Mischa Schelomianski and Margarita Nekrasova in the cast. It will have its premiere on 22 July. On 16 July, Rustioni will conduct a concert version of Verdi's I due Foscari in the same house.
On 2 July, in the recently built Grand Théâtre de Provence – it was inaugurated in 2007 - there will be the debut of a new production of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde with Sir Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; the stage director is Simon Stone and the cast features Stuart Skelton, Nina Stemme, Jamie Barton, Franz-Josef Selig and Josef Wagner. On 3 July at the Grand Théâtre de Provence a world premiere is scheduled: Kaija Saariaho's Innocence with Susanna Mälkki conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, stage direction by Simon Stone and a cast including Magdalena Kožená, Sandrine Piau, Tuomas Pursio, Lilian Farahani, Markus Nykänen and Jukka Rasilainen. The two operas will alternate in the Grand Théâtre de Provence.
Starting 3 July, the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume will feature Baroque opera by Monteverdi, Rossi and Cavalli with Sébastien Daucé conducting Ensemble Correspondances, Silvia Costa's stage direction and Valerio Contaldo, Lucile Richardot, Julie Roset, Etienne Bazola and Nicolas Brooymans as singers.
In the Conservatoire, there will be a world premiere - The Arab Apocalypse by Samir Odeh Tamini - and the first staging in France of a double bill by Bushra El Turk.
Thus there is a very varied program with a wide range of eras and styles. Interesting, the two world premieres: Innocence constructs the deleterious effects of a collective past trauma that has recently resurfaced; The Arab Apocalypse allegorizes the terrible cataclysm of the Lebanese civil war, a ceaseless tragedy with global repercussions. This modern oratorio by the Palestinian-Israeli composer Samir Odeh-Tamimi, based on the prophetic long-form poem by the American-Lebanese poet and painter Etel Adnan, is the basis of the Festival's partnership with the Luma Foundation's LUMA - Arles cultural centre. Woman at Point Zero is an appeal for women's rights by the Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk.