Idomeneus and Moses guide the Hebrews and cross hostile seas to reach happier lands, Orpheus and Dante travel into the Underworld towards the light. Most of the works of the 2022 edition illustrate this motif and Resurrection is emblematic in this respect.
In this exceptional project inspired by Mahler’s Second Symphony, Romeo Castellucci offers Requiem (2019) a sequel and he takes up the question of renewal as strikingly as he did with the question of extinction. The Stadium de Vitrolles – beauty ravaged by twenty-five years of abandonment – gets a new breath of life. And all of us will hopefully soon rise out of these darkened times – for it is not a matter of assertion but of hopes: to catch a glimpse of utopia, paradise and light beyond catastrophe, abysses, and mourning.
Most of the material from which these exoduses, odysseys and crossings of the abyss are drawn is Mediterranean – thus reminding us of the importance of the cultural crucible to which the Festival is a true heir – whether their inspiration be biblical (Rossini’s Moses and Pharaoh, Strauss’s Salome), Greek and Roman (Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, Mozart’s Idomeneo, Bellini’s Norma), medieval and Renaissance (Pascal Dusapin’s Il Viaggio, Dante) or contemporary (Bushra El-Turk’s Woman at Point Zero). Dance – which Nietzsche saw as an attribute of the Mediterranean – is very present in this edition, from Idomeneo and Moses and Pharaoh ballets to Salome’s “Dance of the Seven Veils”. The Mediterranean socio-economic and environmental realities are also explicitly addressed.
Two world premieres will take place during the Festival: In Il Viaggio, Dante Pascal Dusapin (Passion, 2008) and Frédéric Boyer offer an intimate journey through this opus magnum of the European culture – the Divine Comedy – from the circles of Hell to Beatrice’s enigmatic laughter in Heaven. Woman at Point Zero by Lebanese composer Bushra El-Turk – a plea for women’s emancipation – is inspired by a novel by Nawal El Saadawi, a leading advocate of women’s rights in Egypt who recently passed away.
The greatest artists have been brought together to honour these works. The Festival is pleased to welcome back prestigious conductors who have marked the Festival’s recent history: Esa-Pekka Salonen and Ingo Metzmacher will conduct the Chœur et Orchestre de Paris, Kent Nagano – back after thirty years – and Michele Mariotti – for the first time in Aix – will work with the Chorus and Orchestra of the Opéra de Lyon. Ensembles playing on ancient instruments are in the spotlight with Pygmalion Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Raphaël Pichon, Cappella Mediterranea led by Leonardo García Alarcón and Christophe Rousset’s Les Talens Lyriques. We will also discover the Resonanz Ensemble under the baton of Riccardo Minasi. Major stage directors such as Andrea Breth and Romeo Castellucci will be part of this 2022 edition, together with newcomers as acclaimed as Claus Guth and Tobias Kratzer, the rising star Ted Huffman and the great theatrical figure Satoshi Miyagi, who makes his opera debut in Europe.
Singers dear to the Festival will be present this year – such as Michael Spyres, Elsa Dreisig, Sabine Devieilhe, Nina Minasyan, Julia Bullock, Claron McFadden and Anna Prohaska – but we will also get to know promising talents such as Pene Pati, Jeanine De Bique, Golda Schultz, Emily D’Angelo, Vasilisa Berzhanskaya and Adriana Bignagni Lesca. Several first-class French artists will also make their Festival debut: Karine Deshayes, Marianne Crebassa, Jean-Sébastien Bou, Benjamin
Bernheim and Florian Sempey.
The Festival d’Aix-en-Provence develops an ambitious concert programme that serves as a counterpoint to the operas: it transcends all periods and styles and it relies both on artistic forces in residence and long-term collaborations, but also on prestigious one-time invitations. This edition features two artists portraits: composer Pascal Dusapin and singer Julia Bullock. The concert version of operas celebrate both baroque and bel canto pages. The ambitious vocal recital series – conceived in close dialogue with the artists – offers programmes which themes and repertoires are off the beaten track. Contemporary music and creation are given pride of place with the French premieres of works by Wolfgang Rihm, Thomas Adès and Kathleen Tagg. We will pay special tribute to Olivier Messiaen, on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of his death, by performing the Turangalîla-Symphonie, which was first performed in France at the Festival d’Aix in 1950. One can also admire great artists of the Mediterranean – such as Abeer Nehme, João Barradas and Tarek Yamani – and enjoy the inventive programme of the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra, conceived by their mentors Duncan Ward and Fabrizio Cassol.
Finally, the Festival is also the rich, diverse and free offer of Aix en juin: the “Voix de Silvacane” – with a focus on Baroque and Mediterranean music – the concerts of the Académie’s Vocal and Chamber Music Residencies, the great Parade[s] concert on Cours Mirabeau dedicated to Rossini, the collective process “Opéra de-ci de-là” leading to the public creation of a short opera, the film programme in partnership with local cinemas, as well as the pilot projects of the Passerelles educational and socioartistic service. After two years of interruption due to the health crisis, the audience will once again be able to attend the “préludes” preceding opera performances and discuss with the artists during the “tête-à-tête” and “midis” of the Festival – also available on #THEDIGITALSTAGE.
Enlivened by these collective artistic experiences, may we then share with Mahler in his own words: “With the wings I have won for myself, I shall fly towards the light!”