31 July 2019, Edinburgh: The Edinburgh International Festival launches this week for its 73rd edition, bringing the best of theatre, music and dance from across the world to Scotland’s capital. The Festival will once again be a meeting place for the world’s creatives as 2,800 artists arrive from 41 countries including Australia, Nigeria, Canada, Belgium, China, Mali, Holland, South Africa, France, Germany and India as well as 800 artists from Scotland. The International Festival programme features 155 events, with 293 performances, attracting audiences from 80 countries to see the world’s greatest performing arts festival.
The International Festival launches with the Aberdeen Standard Investments Opening Event – a special free concert for 15,000 people at Tynecastle Park from the renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic led by legendary conductor Gustavo Dudamel.
Other highlights include Peter Gynt, a raucous new work starring Scotland’s rising star James McArdle co-produced with the National Theatre of Great Britain; and Sydney Theatre Company’s first visit to Edinburgh with the multi award-winning staging of Kate Grenville’s novel The Secret River, which takes an unflinching look at Australia’s dark history.
Two of Berlin’s opera houses return to Edinburgh: Komische Oper Berlin with Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera Eugene Onegin, created by the company’s Director Barrie Kosky, and Scottish conductor Donald Runnicles leads the orchestra and chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin in a concert version of Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Leonard Bernstein’s revelatory West Side Story brings together a young and diverse cast of singers from the USA and Scotland including members of the National Youth Choir of Scotland and a hand-picked selection of American students from music schools in Chicago, Baltimore and New York.
In a work of unimaginable scale and artistry, Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra reunite with a sensational international cast of soloists to conclude the festival’s four-year Ring cycle with Götterdämmerung. Beyond this the great talents of the classical music world take to the stage at the International Festival including Yuja Wang, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Joyce DiDonato, Angela Hewitt, Jeremy Denk, Lawrence Brownlee, Alisa Weilerstein and Colin Currie.
The International Festival also returns to Leith Theatre with some of today’s most original voices in contemporary music including Jarvis Cocker, Anna Calvi, Neneh Cherry, Sharon Van Etten and Teenage Fanclub.
Dance fans will be delighted as Scottish Ballet celebrates its 50th anniversary with a world premiere of The Crucible based on a play by Arthur Miller, and with a new version of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring by Chinese choreographer Yang Liping and design by Oscar-winning artist Tim Yip (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon).
In a brand-new programme of more than 80 events, You Are Here offers fresh thinking on class, gender, human rights, racism and climate crisis, questioning the status quo and offering suggestions for future paths. Works by spoken word artist Kate Tempest, choreographer Serge Aimé Coulibaly, author Jackie Kay as well as new writing from the Royal Court Theatre make up the exceptional programme.
Also lighting up stages across the city, 1927 presents Roots in their unique blend of visual theatre, animation and live music; Sir Ian McKellen recalls seminal moments from his career, marking 50 years since his landmark performances at the 1969 International Festival; and Stephen Fry performs Mythos: A Trilogy (Gods, Heroes, Men), three gripping performances based on his best-selling book that bring to life the classic stories of ancient Greece. All of Scotland’s national companies contribute to 2019’s programme including the National Theatre of Scotland with Jackie Kay’s Red Dust Road and the European premiere of Missy Mazzoli’s Breaking the Waves by Scottish Opera, based on the Lars von Trier film of the same name.
Fergus Linehan, Festival Director, Edinburgh International Festival said: “The eve of Edinburgh's festival season is very special time. The world's great orchestras rehearse in school halls and churches, tents pop up in every square, the Tattoo rehearsals blast out into the night sky and flats and hotel rooms fill up with performers who are both at the very top of their career and those who are taking their tentative first steps. The artists are the real heroes of our festivals. So to the pipers, the dancers, the actors, the poets, the playwrights, the novelists, the painters, the sculptors, the directors, the choreographers, the acrobats, the comedians, the designers, the conductors, the singers and the players - thank you for making Edinburgh the only place I ever want to be in August.”