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The 64th Annual Festival d’Aix-en-Provence Begins Today, July 5

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The 64th annual Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, under the leadership of General Manager Bernard Foccroulle, will open today, July 5 and run until July 27, 2012, featuring a diverse menu of seven opera and musical Theater Productions, seven orchestral concerts, five solo recitals, seven intimate chamber music performances, two world music programs, and more than thirty events from the 15th annual European Academy of Music. The Festival's wide-ranging events unfold in nine extraordinary venues, many of them open-air, in and around the picturesque ancient Provençal city: castles, a cathedral, a basilica, a palace courtyard, a historical site dating back to the 11th century BC, and an 18th Century Theatre transformed from a «jeu de paume» court where Louis XIV played in 1660.

The seven opera and musical Theater Productions featured in the Festival 2012 season reaffirm its longtime international reputation as one of the world's foremost opera producers. This season's program, including two world premieres, spans the early 17th through the 21st centuries and offers a vast variety of musical and dramatic styles, underlining the Festival's mission to expand the boundaries of the art form by creating new works, presenting traditional works in fresh modern interpretations, rediscovering rarely-heard masterpieces, and presenting innovative productions.

The 2012 Festival will offer complementary glimpses of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as a budding 18-year-old composer and as a fully mature master just a decade later. La finta giardiniera (1775), a funny yet touching tale of young love, betrayal, and reconciliation, heralds the full blossoming of Mozart's operatic genius and strongly foreshadows the profound and bittersweet comedy of Le nozze di Figaro. Rising stars Layla Claire, Julien Pregardien, and Colin Balzer lead the exciting young cast, conducted by Andreas Spering and Le Cercle de l'Harmonie in this new production, directed by Vincent Boussard and performed at the Domaine du Grand Saint-Jean. Le nozze di Figaro (1786), subtitled « The Day of Madness », traces not only the frenetic wedding day of the servants Susanna and Figaro but the triumph of love and wit over the tyranny which the French Revolution would soon topple. This new production will showcase a stellar ensemble led by the international opera stars Malin Byström, Patricia Petibon, Kyle Ketelsen, and Paolo Szot. Directed by Richard Brunel with Jérémie Rhorer (who recently made his New York debut conducting the Mostly Mozart festival orchestra) leading Le Cercle de l'Harmonie and the Chorus of Les Arts Florissants, it will be performed at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché.

Two world premieres highlight the 2012 Festival. Written on Skin by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp is based on a 13th-century Occitan tale of jealousy and violence which here unfolds under the gaze of 21st century angels. The acclaimed Katie Mitchell directs this opera about the explosive consequences of self-discovery and the limits of power that human beings can exercise over one another. Starring soprano Barbara Hannigan and countertenor Bejun Mehta, Written on Skin will be conducted by the composer, George Benjamin, leading the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and will be performed at the Grand Théâtre de Provence. The second world premiere will be Une Situation Huey P. Newton; Vies de Ya'seen Benbekhma et Ichen Bouachraoui by Jean Michel Bruyère and LFKs, which draws a parallel between the two historic leaders of the Black Panther Party in Oakland in 1966 and two young people in the Bois de Roi Rene in Aune, a poor district of Aix-en-Provence. With music by Thierry Arredondo, Laurent Dailleu, and Charles-Edouard de Surville, it will be performed at the Théâtre du Bois de l'Aune.

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BWW Reviews: THE TSAR'S BRIDE a Heavenly Marriage with the Bolshoi Opera at Lincoln Center FestivalBWW Reviews: THE TSAR'S BRIDE a Heavenly Marriage with the Bolshoi Opera at Lincoln Center Festival
by Richard Sasanow