A World Festival
A festival that has a strong attraction both nationally and internationally
With a strong record of past successes, the Festival of Aix welcomes a public that is not only local, but also national and international, with many spectators and journalists coming from around the world.
The spectators who come to take part in the Festival of Aix leave each year with memories of a festival experience that is unique in its own way and during which they attended musical performances of a high quality in the unique context of an open-air festival under the sky of Provence.
Furthermore, each year the international press travels to Aix to attend the festival performances. Thus, journalists from the Financial Times, the New York Times, Opera Today and even Radio Canada made the journey to Aix-en-Provence to discover the new productions and creations of the Festival of Aix.
The exceptional quality of the performances at the festival is based on the presence, refreshed each year, of famous artists and great orchestras and choirs.
The 2015 Festival welcomed, in particular, Patricia Petibon and Philippe Jarroussky in Handel’s Alcina directed by Katie Mitchell, as well as the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Simon Rattle for the creation of a French version of The Monster in the Maze by Jonathan Dove, and Peter Sellars, who directed a production of Iolanthe and Persephone that had great success with both the public and the press, followed in 2016 with the filmmaker Christophe Honoré for the staging of Così fan tutte by Mozart, Stéphane Degout and Barbara Hannigan in the title-roles of Pelléas and Mélisande by Debussy staged by Katie Mitchell and with the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen for Pelléas and Mélisande and for Œdipus Rex / Symphony of Psalms by Igor Stravinsky in Peter Sellars' staging.
Keen to foster contemporary original works as well rehearsing the repertoire, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence is also a festival that is resolutely turned towards the future. It continually tries to renew itself so as to be able to offer to the public each year creations and new productions that are the opera of tomorrow. The Festival is becoming the laboratory of opera in the twenty-first century where new creations and the existing repertoire feed on each other.
In July 2012 at Aix, the immense success of the new opera Written on Skin by George Benjamin and directed by Katie Mitchell, echoed round the world and marked out the Aix Festival as a place where modern opera is being created.
A festival that shines across the world
Over the past ten years, the increasing number of revivals of its productions on the stages and screens of the entire world has enabled the Festival to create a strong image for itself that goes well beyond its home territory of Provence.
In 2016, the Festival included 12 touring productions in 15 countries on 4 continents and 83 performances (among which 69 revivals by coproducers).
Among the stand-out examples of productions from the Festival that toured the world in 2016, are Schubert’s Winterreise, interpreted by Matthias Goerne, where audiences in Sydney, Lisbon, San Francisco, Paris-Philharmonie, Lille, Barcelona, Berlin, Seoul and Daejeon were able to admire the stage direction by William Kentridge.
Also, in 2016, some operas were covered by co-producers, such as Patrice Chéreau’s Elektra (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 2013) at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, in Helsinki, Berlin and Barcelona, or Ariodante (by Richard Jones, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 2014) in Amsterdam and Toronto.
Some productions created in Aix were, or will be, included in the repertoires of some of the most famous opera houses, such as Don Giovanni (Dmitri Tcherniakov), Rigoletto (Robert Carsen) and Alcina (Katie Mitchell) at the Bolshoi and La Traviata (Jean-François Sivadier), which is still performed at the Staatsoper in Vienna since it was created in 2011.
New collaborations benefit from the Festival’s expertise and lead to unprecedented artistic encounters. This applies to Christophe Honoré’s Così fan tutte (Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, 2016) when the Korea National Opera was involved in the very first co-production in its history. The opera will be performed in turn by European and Korean vocalists.
After a first rendition in 2016 at the Lille Opera House, the Jonathan Dove’s participatory opera, The Monster in the Maze, staged by Marie-Eve Signeyrolle in 2015 at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, will be recreated at the National Opera in Montpellier and at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, with 300 new local amateur choristers.
Each year since 2008, the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence has retransmitted its operas on the big screen, either directly from the Festival or later in recorded form.
Google map retransmissions
In 2016, there were 85 screenings in 36 cities in 20 countries, welcoming more than 6,000 spectators for free. In addition, some French Institutes (in Madrid, Barcelona, Meknes, Bilbao, Ouagadougou, Kiev, Bucharest and Abu Dhabi) programmed an entire season of screenings from the Festival d'Aix, enabling the public to have regular access to operas from the Festival.
Multi-annual international partnerships…
In October 2015, Bernard Foccroulle, General Director of the Festival d’Aix, and Long Yu, Artistic Director of the Beijing Music Festival, signed an unprecedented 5-year multi-annual partnership agreement. The partnership was inaugurated in October 2016, with a presentation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream staged by Robert Carsen at the Poly Theatre. Educational and participatory projects are also planned as well as support for young artists, creators and actors.
The Bolshoi Theatre, in Moscow, and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence have maintained co-production ties since 2010. In addition to various co-productions scheduled for the repertoire at the Bolshoi, less traditional productions will feature periodically on tour. This applies to the operas, Written on Skin and Trauernacht, both staged by Katie Mitchell, which will be performed in Russia for the first time.
… and intercultural dialogue
The interest of the Festival’s international partnerships goes well beyond the financial aspects: they nourish international dialogue, creative innovation and promote the exchange of skills.
Over and beyond the major productions, the productions in an intermediate format like Winterreise, Trauernacht, Svadba and Kalîla wa Dimna are meeting with real success on tour in France and in the entire world, and are being performed in places that while turned towards contemporary creation are not always suited to take on opera productions.
The creation and performances of new productions in alternative formats have become one of the hallmarks of the Festival
The Festival d'Aix in the Mediterranean
The Festival helps to strengthen the vitality and circulation of music and performances in the Mediterranean region by working through reciprocal and dynamic exchanges that highlight the European dimension of the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean identity of Europe.
To achieve this, the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra of the Festival d'Aix offers young instrumentalists of the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) region and the Mediterranean basin, selected through auditions in some twenty or so Mediterranean towns, the opportunity to experience the professional life of musicians in an ensemble or orchestra, either in rehearsal or performing in concert in Aix-en-Provence or on tour in the Mediterranean region. Through two training sessions (symphonic orchestra and an ensemble for intercultural creation), they benefit from teaching and training provided by prestigious musicians.
- 3 concerts on tour
- 101 young musicians
- 25 nationalities
Set up in 2014 on the initiative of the Festival of Aix-en-Provence, the Medinea network supports the development of emerging artists in the Mediterranean.
It is made up of players in the musical sector operating in the countries of the Mediterranean basin and establishes a platform for the recruitment of artists, exchanges of ideas (The Medinea Meetings) and the sharing of good practices. It has become an essential resource for the selection of Mediterranean musicians and for the dissemination in the Mediterranean region of the productions of the Festival d'Aix. In 2016, Medinea is expanding its role as an incubator for talent by offering artists the opportunity to set up intercultural projects with small casts in its partner countries (workshops for engaging with the public, cultural inter-partnership workshops, creative resident courses).
Resident courses in 2016
- Cairo Jazz Station: at the crossroads of jazz and the contemporary music of the Arab World
- Zyriâb and us: a new vision of the Arab-Andalucian heritage: 22 partner institutions in 18 Mediterranean countries