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Festival d'Aix-en-Provence Announces 2014 Season Highlights, July 2-23, 2014

The beginning of a three-year Handel cycle at the Festvial, Ariodante is staged by London-born director Richard Jones, whose uncompromising-and sometimes controversial-productions of such operas as Anna Nicole and Queen of Spades have earned him an international reputation. A co-production of the Festival D'Aix-en-Provence and De Nederlandse Opera, Ariodante will have six performances at the emblematic Théâtre de l'Archevêché with the Freiburger Barockorchster under the baton of Andrea Marcon.

Gioachino Rossini: Il Turco in Italia (World Premiere)

Rossini's Il Turco in Italia (The Turk in Italy) followed the double success of his operas Tancredi and The Italian Girl in Algiers. Although it received a somewhat critical reception at its first 1814 performance in Milan, it has come to be viewed as one of the composer's comic masterpieces. The story takes place on a Neapolitan beach where the poet Prosdocimo writes a tale based on the lives of the local bourgeoisie, a Turkish prince recently arrived in Italy, a jealous husband Don Geronio, his flirtatious wife Fiorilla, and her admirer Narciso. After numerous high comedy twists and turns, everything turns out well and the all the couples are reconciled. The Festival's production of Rossini's Il Turco in Italia is directed by award-winning New York native Christopher Alden, who has frequently expressed his desire to connect opera stories to the modern sensibility of younger audiences and is known for his contemporary stagings of such traditional works as his celebrated production of Handel's Partenope for Opera Australia.

Il Turco in Italia features French conductor Marc Minkowski leading his ensemble, Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, for eight performances at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché.

Franz Schubert: Winterreise

Written near the end of Schubert's life, Winterreise (Winter's Journey), comprises 24 melodies for voice and piano based on the melancholy poems of Wilhelm Müller. The iconic song cycle explores the inner life of a young man unlucky in love by depicting his winter journey through an icy landscape and culminating with the image of an old vielle player who personifies death. The Festival's production of Winterreise presents renowned baritone Matthias Goerne against a backdrop of video animations, montages, and collages created by South African artist William Kentridge, best known for his drawings and animated films. No stranger to Aix-en-Provence, Kentridge's 2011 production of The Nose at the Festival was also critically-acclaimed at the Metropolitan Opera.

Winterreise features Markus Hinterhäuser at the piano for six performances at the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud. The work is a co-production with Wiener Festwochen, Lincoln Center, Opéra de Lille, KunstFestSpiele Herrenhausen-Hanovre, and Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg.

John Sebastian Bach: Trauernacht

J.S. Bach composed more than 200 cantatas during his lifetime. Many of these were for his Leipzig parish where, as Cantor, he was required to write a new liturgical cantata each week. He also wrote sacred cantatas for funerals and weddings, and secular cantatas for anniversaries and special events. Many of these had texts inspired by the Bible, often with dialogue between the soul and Jesus, dramatizing an intense spiritual power. Esteemed British director Katie Mitchell, who has a long-standing fascination with Bach's works, returns to the Festival following last year's production of The House Taken Over and her wildly successful Written on Skin in 2012 with a performance based on Bach's sacred cantatas.

Noted French Baroque conductor and Bach authority Raphaël Pichon will lead the singers and musicians of the Académie Européenne de Musique for this new production in six performances at the Théâtre du Jeu de Paume.

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Boréades

First performed at Festival d'Aix-en-Provence in 1982, Rameau's last opera returns this season in concert version to mark the 250th anniversary of his death. Les Boréades (The Descendants of Boreas) tells the story of how Queen Alphise's forbidden lover, Abaris, is revealed by Apollo to be a descendant of Boreas, enabling the two of them to wed. The opera's unusual history states that rehearsals for the work at the Paris Opera were interrupted in 1763 for unknown reasons and Rameau died shortly thereafter. The score was subsequently moved to the Bibliothèque Nationale de France where it remained unperformed for more than two centuries. When the opera was finally brought to life by the Festival, the public was dazzled by its complex harmonies, seductive arias, and daring orchestration.

Les Boréades is co-produced with Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble, internationally recognized as one of the finest baroque and classical orchestras and highly praised for its interpretations on period instruments. The ensemble will be led by its founder, French conductor and Rameau specialist Marc Minkowski, who will work with young singers selected by the Académie Européenne de Musique for this special occasion at the Grand Théâtre de Provence on July 18, 2014.

Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale online February 3 at www.festival-aix.com, by phone on February 5 at +33(0)4 34 08 02, and at the Festival's box office on February 8, 2014.

Festival d'Aix-en-Provence's opera performances will take place at Théâtre de l'Archevêché, Grand Théâtre de Provence, Théâtre du Jeu de Paume, and Conservatoire Darius Milhaud. Ticket prices for operas range from 15€ to 250€. For more information, the box office can be reached by phone at +33(0)4 34 08 02 17, by fax at + 33(0)4 42 63 13 74, and by email at billetterie@festival-aix.com.

About Festival d'Aix-en-Provence: Founded in 1948, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence is considered one of the most prestigious opera festivals in Europe. Its ability to bring together the world's best vocal talent and renowned international orchestras, and its commitment to the creation of interdisciplinary works, places the Festival among the most innovative and influential opera platforms in Europe. The Festival d'Aix presents new opera productions with celebrated artists and such eminent international orchestras as the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic. In addition to its dedication to artistic quality, the Festival's essential missions include supporting the creation of new works and bringing opera to new audiences. Each year, the Festival commissions a contemporary work, calling upon such well-known composers as Oscar Bianchi (Thanks to my Eyes, 2011) and George Benjamin (Written on Skin, 2012). Thanks to many co-productions with opera companies around the world, the Festival's productions are seen internationally on major stages in such cultural centers as New York, Vienna, Amsterdam and Milan, contributing to the Festival's influence worldwide

L'Académie Européenne de Musique (The European Academy of Music) was established in 1998 as an extension of the Festival and contributes to the systematic policy of expanding audiences for the many public events the Festival offers beyond its role in professional development for young artists from around the world. As a center for training, teaching and professional experience, the European Academy hosts nearly 100 young artists each year. For two months, they receive the best tools for improving technique and launching their careers through participation in the Festival's productions and attendance at numerous concerts, conferences, and master classes. Some 1500 talented young instrumentalists, singers, stage directors, conductors and composers have attended the Academy since its inception.

In 2007, Bernard Foccroulle assumed the direction of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence after 15 years as head of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Convinced that opera, by its interdisciplinary nature, is the foundation for future artistic creation and an extraordinary space for dialogue, Bernard Foccroulle is particularly drawn to both the Baroque repertoire and contemporary works. He has been dedicated to pursuing his vision by making opera a lively meeting place for all. Under his leadership, the Festival has become a platform for exchange and reflection, where multiple art forms interact and audiences of all ages from a variety of backgrounds come together.

In 2013, 83,596 festival-goers took part in the 65th season of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, which presented five operas, 13 concerts, and 62 Académie Européenne de Musique events.

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