Festival d’Aix-en-Provence Announces 2012 Season Opera Highlights

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From July 5 to 25, 2012, under the leadership of General Manager Bernard Foccroulle, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, in its 64th season, will present six operas, including two world premieres, many in extraordinary open-air venues. Spanning the early 17th through the 21st centuries, the operas programmed for the 2012 season reaffirm the Festival's mission to present innovative productions, support the creation of new works, and to perform rarely-heard masterpieces. Details and casting of the Festival's 2012 offerings, including the concert series featuring symphonic works, chamber music and recitals, and the programs of the 15th European Academy of Music, will be announced in late January.

Marc-Antoine Charpentier, David et Jonathas
Marc-Antoine Charpentier's David et Jonathas, in its Aix Festival premiere, is a biblical tragedy which unfolds as passionately as any of the great tragédies-lyriques of its time. The friendship between David and Jonathan, son of King Saul, is portrayed with shocking resonance. Since its premiere at the Jesuit College Louis-le-Grand in 1688 and its 1981 revival at the Opéra de Lyon, David et Jonathas has been regularly performed in concert and even recorded, but rarely staged. At the 2012 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, William Christie will for the first time conduct a staging of the Charpentier masterpiece he recorded 24 years ago.

David et Jonathas will be staged by Andreas Homoki and conducted by William Christie, leading Les Arts Florissants. This new production by Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, co-produced by the Opéra Comique, the Théâtre de Caen, and Teatro Real Madrid, will be performed at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché.

George Benjamin, Written on Skin (world premiere)
Written on Skin (world premiere), by George Benjamin is based on a 13th-century Occitan tale of jealousy and violence which unfolds under the gaze of 21st century angels. It explores the explosive consequences of self-discovery, and the limits of power that human beings can exercise over one another. A wealthy landowner invites an artist to his home to create a book of illuminations, a work which immortalizes in pictures the ruthless exercise of political power and the peaceful rest of domestic order, embodied by the humility and child-like obedience of his wife Agnes. But the creation of this book becomes a catalyst for the wife's rebellion. After her first attempt at seduction succeeds, she exploits her new intimacy with the illuminator in order to influence the content of the book itself?forcing her husband to see her as she really is?and thus sparking a final and extraordinary provocation.

Written on Skin will be conducted by the composer, George Benjamin, leading the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. This world-premiere production, directed by Katie Mitchell, is commissioned and co-produced by Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, De Nederlandse Opera-Amsterdam, Théâtre du Capitole, and the Royal Opera House - Covent Garden. It will be performed at the Grand Théâtre de Provence.

Jean Michel Bruyère and LFKs, Une Situation Huey P. Newton;
Vies de Ya'seen Benbekhma et Ichen Bouachraoui
Invited by the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence to create a new work for 2012, Jean Michel Bruyère and LFKs respond with an opera about Huey P. Newton. Une Situation Huey P. Newton 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: Ya'Seen Benbekhma and Ichen Bouachraoui. The opera in fact represents the meeting of not just these two imposing pairs but of a third: the bond formed between the Roi Rene and Oakland, the philosopher Jean-Paul Curnier and Jean Michel Bruyère, co-author of the opera and leader of the international group of artists, LFKs. Benbekhma, Bouachraoui, Bruyère and Curnier took two years to painstakingly prepare for the creation of this piece, of which the real lives, the social environment, and the families of Benbekhma and Bouachraoui form the imagined center. Together, they shaped a collaboration and took the time to build common ground so that many family members, friends, and neighbors of Benbekhma and Bouachraoui could join LFKs, the artists group, who typically come from many parts of Europe and all over the world.

Une Situation Huey P. Newton was created by Jean Michel Bruyère and LFKs, with music by Thierry Arredondo, Laurent Dailleu, et Charles-Edouard de Surville. A co-production between Festival d'Aix-en-Provence and Marseille-Provence 2013, it will be performed at the Théâtre du Bois de l'Aune.

Maurice Ravel, L'Enfant et les sortilèges (Chamber Version)
One of only two short operas by Maurice Ravel, L'Enfant et les sortilèges (The Child and the Spells), which will have its Aix Festival premiere in a chamber version, is "A Lyric Fantasy in Two Parts" with a heart-warming libretto by the popular French novelist Colette. Telling the story of an unruly young boy who learns vital lessons from some unlikely teachers, Ravel managed to compress worlds of musical beauty and deep humanity into the briefest span of time.

This new production by the European Academy of Music is co-produced by Théâtre du Jeu de Paume, where it will be performed. The conductor will be Didier Puntos and the director Arnaud Meunier.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, La finta giardiniera
The 18-year-old Mozart, on the brink of full artistic ripening, wrote La finta giardiniera in Munich in 1775. A funny yet touching tale of young love, betrayal, and reconciliation, it heralds the full blossoming of Mozart's operatic genius and strongly foreshadows the profound and bittersweet comedy of Le nozze di Figaro and Cosi fan tutte, written a decade later.

Andreas Spering will conduct Le Cercle de l'Harmonie in this new production by the European Academy of Music, co-produced by the Grand Théâtre du Luxembourg and directed by Vincent Boussard. It will be performed at the Domaine du Grand Saint-Jean.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le nozze di Figaro
Subtitled « The Day of Madness », Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro 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. The first of Mozart's three major masterworks with librettist Lorenzo Da Ponte, Figaro begins the period of Mozart's greatest theatrical genius.

This new production of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, co-produced by the Opéra de Dijon, is directed by Richard Brunel and conducted by Jérémie Rhorer, leading Le Cercle de l'Harmonie and the Chorus of Les Arts Florissants. It will be performed at the Théâtre de l'Archevêché.

Subscriptions, Tickets and info
Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale online February 1st at www.festival-aix.com, by phone at +33(0)4 34 08 02 17 on February 3rd, and at the Festival's box office on February 11th.

Festival d'Aix-en-Provence's opera performances will take place at Théâtre de l'Archevêché, Grand Théâtre de Provence, Théâtre du Bois de l'Aune, Théâtre du Jeu de Paume, and Domaine du Grand Saint-Jean. Ticket prices for operas range from 15€ to 240€.

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.