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New Artistic Directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy Unveil Adelaide Festival 2017 Programme

The debut Adelaide Festival from Artistic Directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy will mark a return to artistic works on a grand scale, with epic opera, theatrical spectacle under the stars and the biggest and most ambitious Festival hub in the event's history all set to dazzle in the 2017 program.

The stellar line-up, announced today, features 31 theatre, music, opera, dance, film and visual arts events alongside Adelaide Writers' Week and WOMADelaide, including 16 Australian premieres, 17 events exclusive to Adelaide and three world premieres over 17 days from March 3 to 19, 2017.

After a two year absence the official Adelaide Festival hub will return in the form of the Riverbank Palais, a two-storey, purpose-built entertainment venue floating on the River Torrens, based on the little-known floating dance hall that was the pinnacle of Adelaide's nightlife throughout the 1920s. One of the largest single constructions ever undertaken by the Festival, the Riverbank Palais is set to be one of the most exciting hubs of food, wine and entertainment the Festival has ever seen, with its full program to be announced in January 2017.

A major highlight of the 2017 program is the return to Adelaide of the brilliant and provocative Barrie Kosky with his masterpiece opera Saul. Produced by the Glyndebourne Opera Festival, this sumptuous production is set to be a centrepiece of the Adelaide Festival in its exclusive Australian season.

Also exclusive to the Festival is the Australian premiere of Richard III by Berlin's Schaubühne Theater, a gritty and intensely compelling interpretation of Shakespeare's classic directed by Thomas Ostermeier and starring Lars Eidinger in the title role, set to be one of the theatrical events of the year.

Offering the kind of epic theatrical experience synonymous with the festival, Sydney Theatre Company's multi Helpmann Award winning production The Secret River directed by Neil Armfield will make its Adelaide debut in a stunning new open-air performance staged in the Anstey Hill Quarry at Tea Tree Gully. Presented in association with State Theatre Company of South Australia, this will be the first time a major theatrical production has been performed in one of the local quarries since the legendary Mahabharata at the 1988 Adelaide Festival.

Heading up the music program is the incomparable Rufus Wainwright, presenting an Australian premiere double bill of his most celebrated works - Prima Donna and highlights from Rufus Does Judy - in a one-night only, once in a decade concert exclusive to the Festival.

Another musical highlight is Chamber Landscapes, a three-day festival-within-the-Festival of chamber music curated by Anna Goldsworthy, featuring the Australian String Quartet, La Gaia Scienza (Italy), Seraphim Trio and more. Held in the magnificent hillside surrounds of the Ukaria Cultural Centre in Mount Barker, this promises to be a sublime musical event.

A major highlight of the dance program is Betroffenheit, a boundary-stretching hybrid of theatre and dance created by Jonathon Young, one of Canada's best-known actors and co-founder and artistic director of Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre, and internationally lauded Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite of Dance Company Kidd Pivot. Having won rave reviews in the UK, Canada and USA, this compelling production is set to be unmissable.

Other Australian premiere productions include family favourite Peter and the Wolf starring Miriam Margolyes alongside the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Gala by award-winning French "anti-choreographer" Jérôme Bel, two contemporary dance works by ground-breaking Israeli company L-E-V, as well as a one-night only performance of Monteverdi's L'Orfeo by lauded Italian baroque ensemble Concerto Italiano.

World premieres include Intimate Space by South Australian company Restless Dance Theatre, an immersive dance piece set inside the Hilton Hotel, and Backbone by internationally acclaimed South Australian acrobatic troupe Gravity and Other Myths, with both companies enjoying their debut appearances at the Adelaide Festival, as well as The Backstories by Wiliam Yang and Annette Shun Wah, a theatre piece telling the stories of Asian South Australian identities Cheong Liew, Moya Dodd and Razak Mohammed.

Every exhibition in the visual arts program is an Australian premiere exclusive to the Festival, including RED, the directorial film debut of del Kathryn Barton starring Cate Blanchett, and Versus Rodin both on at the Art Gallery of South Australia, and Yidaki: Didjeridu and the Sound of Australia, a collaborative exhibition between the South Australian Museum and the Yolngu people which explores the didjeridu through sound, story, moving image.

Artistic Directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy said they wanted their first Adelaide Festival to present extraordinary events in new and unique contexts.

Mr Armfield said: "We wanted to amplify what a major international arts festival does best: bring audiences together with the most exhilarating and original artists of our generation and present extraordinary events in new and unique creative contexts, be it in the natural cathedral of a disused quarry, a Palais floating on the riverbank, the interiors of a city hotel or a chamber music venue surrounded by the Mount Barker bushland."

Ms Healy said: "Since 1960, the Adelaide Festival has built its international reputation on the extraordinary quality and range of the artists that visited and performed in the city; and the ambition and scale of its signature events. We're so thrilled that the wait is over and we can shout with joy about our first festival. To Adelaide with love - and there's more to come! See you down at the Palais."

Adelaide Writers' Week, the much-loved week of free open air readings and conversation, will take place in the Pioneer Women's Memorial Garden from Saturday 4 March to Thursday 9 March.

The 2017 Writers' Week program features a wide range of poets, historians, novelists, biographers, journalists, refugees, feminists and some of contemporary literature's most exciting writers and thinkers. Guests include Irish playwright, novelist and poet Sebastian Barry, Jessie Burton (UK), UK journalist and war correspondent Patrick Cockburn, Janine di Giovanni (US), Australian journalist and broadcaster Richard Fidler, Alberto Manguel (ARG/CAN), Kate Summerscale (UK), Booker Prize nominated Canadian author Madeleine Thien, and American feminist and internet troll hunter Lindy West.

In her sixth year as Adelaide Writers' Week Director, Laura Kroetsch said: "It is a real thrill to be announcing the first of our guests for Adelaide Writers' Week 2017. We have a wonderful line-up this year, a wonderful group of writers, writing about a vast range of topics. And if there is a message here among all these thoughtful words, that message is for tolerance - here in Australia and right around our troubled world."

Premier Jay Weatherill said: "Not only is the Adelaide Festival one of the world's great festivals with a reputation for bold, innovative programming, its economic impact continues to grow each year. In 2016 the Adelaide Festival generated an estimated gross expenditure of $78.3 million for the state and almost 20,000 visitors came from interstate or overseas to attend. With such a strong program for 2017, including the Australian exclusive performance of Barrie Kosky's acclaimed opera Saul, there is no doubt in my mind that this staggering growth will continue. This world-renowned opera is just one of a long list of highlights for the 2017 program across theatre, music, opera, dance, film and visual art that further cements Adelaide's reputation as the arts capital of Australia."

Minister for the Arts Jack Snelling said: "Once again the Adelaide Festival has outdone itself. The 2017 program is just phenomenal and I cannot wait to welcome the artists and of course the countless tourists who will come to our brilliant city as it once again lives up to its name of Australia's premier event destination."

Adelaide Festival Chief Executive Officer Sandy Verschoor said: "I can't wait to see the reaction to this excellent program. With 40 per cent of our audience for Saul already coming from interstate the Adelaide Festival looks set to have the biggest impact on Adelaide in years."

Adelaide Festival Chair Judy Potter said: "We are thrilled to be launching an exciting program curated by our new artistic directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield, and I am confident this season will continue to build on our reputation as Australia's pre-eminent international arts festival."


The legendary Barrie Kosky, who directed a triumphant Adelaide Festival in 1996, has created an operatic work that is blazingly alive, pulsing with ferocious energy, deep melancholy, thrilling imagination and high drama. George Frideric Handel's Saul, produced by the great Glyndebourne Opera Festival and performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Erin Helyard, is set to be a centrepiece of the Festival in its exclusive Australian season.

For one night only, Adelaide Festival will bring you the first opera, as it would have been heard over 400 years ago, by the award winning Concerto Italiano. L'Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, if not the first opera ever staged, is the earliest and most enduring operatic masterpiece. Adelaide Festival audiences have the chance to hear one of Europe's premiere baroque ensembles present this exclusive concert as they did in 1607, this time in the beautiful Adelaide Town Hall.

In an Australian premiere exclusive to the Festival, Rufus Wainwright will present his acclaimed debut opera Prima Donna in a symphonic visual concert backed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Sung by acclaimed Australian singers Jacqueline Dark, Eva Kong and Kanen Breen, the opera is accompanied by a film directed by Francesco Vezzoli starring the legendary Cindy Sherman. Also on this special double bill concert are highlights from Rufus Does Judy - see the "music" section below for more information.


After sell-out seasons and critical acclaim around Australia, Neil Armfield's landmark Sydney Theatre Company production The Secret River will make its Adelaide debut at the 2017 Adelaide Festival with ambitious new open-air staging at the Anstey Hill Quarry at Tea Tree Gully. Based on the international best-selling book by Kate Grenville, adapted for the stage by award-winning Adelaide based playwright Andrew Bovell, and presented in association with State Theatre Company of South Australia, The Secret River promises to be one of the theatre events of the decade.

Witness Shakespeare's Richard III as you have never seen him: darker, more evil, more in your face, and exclusive to Adelaide Festival. In an Australian premiere Berlin's Schaubühne Theater presents a gritty and intensely compelling interpretation of the famously devious antihero, starring Lars Eidinger in the title role. Eleven years after they first wowed Adelaide Festival audiences with Nora (2006) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (2008), this searing, intensely physical production led by the direction of deeply influential theatre maker Thomas Ostermeier is not to be missed.

After acclaimed runs in London, Edinburgh and on Broadway, 3D audio theatre sensation The Encounter is coming to Adelaide. Inspired by the compelling true story of National Geographic photographer Loren McIntyre's experiences with remote tribes in the Amazon jungle, this stunning one-man show by renowned UK theatre company Complicite, created and directed by Simon McBurney and starring Richard Katz, uses binaural technology - 3D audio - to create an immersive experience in a game-changing theatrical event that has generated five star reviews around the world. Audiences are taken on a journey deep into the rainforest through the use of headphones, relaying audio loops, effects and dialogue from a binaural microphone on stage to build a shifting world of sound.

In an Australian exclusive premiere aimed at families and young audiences, Chicago's Manual Cinema will showcase two works of their signature real-time animated cinema - Magic City and Lula Del Ray - using overhead projectors, shadow puppetry, costumed actors, live feed cameras, multi-channel sound design and an onstage music ensemble. Conjuring the visual poetry of silent classics and combining it with the sophistication of Hitchcock and the contemporary gothic of Burton, these magicians of stage and screen believe in revealing their secrets, thereby enhancing the hypnotic hold of their imagery and storytelling.

The Backstories is the exploration of Asian Australian experience through performance. Well-known screen presence, theatre director and writer Annette Shun Wah and photo-journalist and autobiographical storyteller William Yang have collaborated with three of Adelaide's most intriguing Asian-Australian figures, chef Cheong Liew, women's soccer champion and FIFA Executive Council member Moya Dodd and fashion designer Razak Mohammed to perform two shows over six intimate evenings, treating us to a rare glimpse behind their public personas as they open their hearts and their private photo collections to share the experiences that shaped their lives.

Portraits in Motion will allow us to view human nature through a new lens as traveller and cinematographer Volker Gerling brings us the Adelaide premiere of his critically acclaimed flipbook cinema show. Having walked more than 3,500km through his native Germany capturing portraits of the people he meets, Gerling has turned his photographic essays into flipbooks, a rudimentary form of animation, selling them from an old wooden hawker's tray slung around his neck. In an understated, beguiling performance Gerling presents these unique flipbook cinema portraits, together with the story surrounding each encounter, and draws us in to a rich humanity from a simplicity of means.

A touching and life-affirming play, Every Brilliant Thing from UK companies Paines Plough and Pentabus shines a light on what makes life worth living. Written by award-winning British playwright Duncan MacMillan with UK comedian Jonny Donahoe and starring James Rowland, this critically acclaimed one-man show artfully explores mental health, families and the ways we love in a hilarious and uplifting production for both adults and teenagers.

Part performance art monologue, part DJ set, part erotic floorshow, MDLSX is a unique and thought-provoking performance piece by award-winning Italian punk god/dess Silvia Calderoni, from Rimini's acclaimed dance- theatre outfit Motus. Featuring music from The Smiths, Vampire Weekend, R.E.M. and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and featuring a backdrop of Calderoni's own family home videos to blur fiction with her own life story, this Australian premiere proudly defies classification.

In 1926, in the East End of London, Jewish shoemaker Ab Solomons doodled on the wage-packet he gave to his wife Celie every week of their marriage, right up until 1982, in a unique and charming documentation of their relationship. Now Ab and Celie's great nephew Danny Braverman presents his acclaimed solo show Wot? No Fish!!, telling the funny and moving story of how he discovered this precious lost art hidden in dozens of dusty shoeboxes, in a charming, emotive and deeply moving performance piece.

A sweaty, sexy and devastatingly charming show that defies gravity and traditions, Backbone is the world premiere new work by home-grown, multi award-winning acrobatic troupe Gravity and Other Myths that promises to (literally) toss around the idea of strength: physical and emotional, individual and collective. The team of talented tumblers will demonstrate their jaw-dropping virtuosity, witty, thought-provoking conceits and extraordinarily disciplined team work in their debut appearance at the Adelaide Festival.


The incomparable Rufus Wainwright presents an Australian premiere double bill of his most celebrated works exclusive to the 2017 Adelaide Festival, backed by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Wainwright will pay tribute to his twin loves of opera and orchestras, as well as his passion for dramatics, divas and show tunes, presenting the two works closest to his heart: his acclaimed debut opera Prima Donna and highlights from Rufus Does Judy, his landmark recreation of Judy Garland's iconic 1961 Carnegie Hall concert, considered by many to be "the greatest night in show business history".

The warm, whimsical and occasionally wicked Miriam Margolyes returns to Adelaide for the exclusive Australian premiere of children's classic Peter and the Wolf with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of conductor Nicholas Carter. Also featured are Benjamin Britten's mini-masterpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, the orchestral suite from Leoš Janá?ek's operatic tale of love and fantasy The Cunning Little Vixen, and the famous Polovtsian dances from Borodin's barbarian fairytale Prince Igor, in a program of storytelling and orchestral delights for the whole family.

One night only concert 1967 presents the soundtrack to the year of change, when Australia said a resounding "yes" to removing racist clauses from the Constitution. Performed by some of Australia's most influential musicians like Ursula Yovich, Thelma Plum, Leah Flanagan, Radical Son, Adalita, Yirrmal, ARIA Award winner Dan Sultan and more, this concert pays tribute to the year that sustained a victory after a decade of determination by pioneering Aboriginal activists and their allies.

In an Australian premiere exclusive to Adelaide, Italian chamber music sensations La Gaia Scienza will dazzle classical music lovers and newcomers alike by playing 19th Century music on historical instruments, as if it the score was written yesterday. For one night only at the Adelaide Town Hall this talented trio will have you toss away whatever you imagine chamber music is all about as they reinvent classic scores as you've never heard them.

Enjoy a festival of historical and contemporary musical composition with Chamber Landscapes in Australia's most magnificent new concert hall: the Ukaria Cultural Centre at the Mount Barker summit. Taking place over the three days of the March long weekend, with additional evening concerts in the week prior, this festival-within-a-festival curated by accomplished South Australian musician and award winning writer Anna Goldsworthy is set to be a program of pure bliss, exclusive to Adelaide. With a focus on the music of Schubert, Chamber Landscapes features concerts by some of Australia's most acclaimed musicians including the Australian String Quartet, Seraphim Trio, La Gaia Scienza and William Barton alongside soprano Miriam Gordon-Stewart and tenor Steve Davislim. The program includes a new song cycle by Calvin Bowman celebrating the beauty of the South Australian landscape, as well as new works by indigenous artists Deborah Cheetham and William Barton, composed while in residence at the site, as well as panel discussions.

Eighth Blackbird is the closest thing classical music has to a rock band. The ensemble revels in the work of living composers, played with love, virtuosity and enjoyment. This tour sees them delving into contemporary gems by Muhly, Dessner, Hearne and Andres, alongside a world premiere by Australian composer Holly Harrison. Playing at Adelaide Town Hall, this show is one not to be missed.

Celebrating its 25th year, WOMADelaide - winner of the 2016 Helpmann Award for Australia's Best Contemporary Music Festival - boasts its usual array of wonderful sounds, sights, tastes and experiences. Set in the lush surrounds of Botanic Park, this year's event will feature a diverse range of acts from seminal

English ska icons The Specials, Grammy-nominated bossa nova singer Bebel Gilberto, and The Philip Glass Ensemble which will mark the composer's 80th birthday with KOYAANISQATSI LIVE - Life out of Balance. Also on the line-up are Archie Roach, The Waifs, Brushy One String, The East Pointers, Hanoi Masters, Gawurra, Inna Modja, La Mambanegra, The Manganiyar Classroom, Mercedes Péon, Sinkane, Sudha Ragunathan, The Soil, Xylouris White and Warsaw Village Band.


A boundary-stretching hybrid of theatre and dance, Betroffenheit comes to the Adelaide Festival for a very limited season after rave reviews in the UK, Canada and USA. Created by Jonathon Young, one of Canada's best-known actors and co-founder and artistic director of Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre, and internationally lauded Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite of Dance Company Kidd Pivot, this stunning work examines, with unflinching honesty, what happens to the individual in the wake of trauma.

Formed by former Batsheva Dance Company principal dancer and choreographer Sharon Eyal and Tel Aviv rave party producer Gai Behar, along with several Batsheva dancers, Israeli Dance Company L-E-V (the Hebrew word for "heart") makes their Adelaide Festival debut with two technically staggering, spine-chillingly sexy works - Killer Pig and OCD Love. Performed to deep, pulsing grooves from techno pioneer Ori Lichtik and indie band The Knife, this is the new edge of contemporary dance.

Celebrating the universal and uplifting power of dance is the Australian premiere of Gala, by award-winning French "anti-choreographer" Jérôme Bel. Unique to every city in which it's performed, Gala features a company of 15 Adelaide locals of diverse abilities, genders, talents, ages and identities - including professional dancers, amateur enthusiasts, and those who've never been on a stage before - to present a joyful gala performance that pays tribute to the real people of our city, and the human impulse to dance.

In their Adelaide Festival debut, award winning South Australian company Restless Dance Theatre presents Intimate Space, an immersive dance performance set in the Hilton Hotel. Check in with your fellow guests and be guided through the hotel's sophisticated bar, luxe rooms and back of house areas with an evocative soundscape by Jason Sweeney, acting not just as a voyeur but an integral part of the performance.


Celebrated Australian artist Lynette Wallworth's 2012 film installation Coral: Rekindling Venus comes to Adelaide for the first time with a series of special screenings at the Adelaide Planetarium. Lie back under the giant projection dome and be surrounded by staggeringly beautiful coral reef imagery and high-resolution microscopic footage like nothing you've ever seen: an alien world in luminous colour that will take your breath away. With music by Max Richter, Gurrumul and Anohni among others, this spectacular film will ignite an outrage at the imminent disappearance of this teeming universe that will burn in you forever.

Gardens Speak, by Lebanese-British artist Tania El Khoury, is a profoundly moving interactive sound installation that commemorates the lives of ordinary Syrians lost in the early days of the uprising against the Assad regime. Just 10 participants at a time are invited to literally dig into the soil to hear their stories, mirroring the thousands of unmarked graves in gardens across Syria. This uniquely staged installation is a poignant commentary on life and death, revealing the individual stories behind the death toll.


The Art Gallery of South Australia will host two exclusive, Australian premiere exhibitions as part of the Adelaide Festival: RED, the directorial debut short film debut of one of Australia's leading figurative painters, del Kathryn Barton, and Versus Rodin: Bodies Across Space and Time.

Featuring Cate Blanchett, RED is a surrealist, cinematic offering and a savage tale of female power inspired by the mating rituals of the Australian red back spider, while Versus Rodin marks 100 years since August Rodin's death by placing his work in conversation with modern and contemporary artists including Louise Bourgeois, Antony Gormley, William Kentridge, Bharti Kher, Rosemary Laing, Ugo Rondinone and Kara Walker.

From a stringy bark forest in Arnhem Land, to the concert halls of Europe, the sound of yidaki (didjeridu) speaks of the landscapes and cultures of Australia and its First People. Yet the instrument's cultural foundations, contemporary meanings and unique musical qualities are poorly understood. In a collaboration between the South Australian Museum and the Yolngu people, Yidaki: The Sound of Australia explores the instrument and its history through sound, story, moving image and rarely seen treasures from the museum's collection in an Australian premiere exclusive to the Adelaide Festival.

Featuring the work of 23 Australian and International Artists, complementary exhibitions The Ocean After Nature and Countercurrents explore our relationship with and connections to the oceans through new media, sculpture, installation, painting and photography. Presented at the Samstag Museum of Art at the University of South Australia, this is an Australian premiere, exclusive to Adelaide.

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