Monday 6 July 2020
KEEP CREATING: INNOCENCE — All of the participants from this production, which was scheduled to premiere this summer, have been meeting for several weeks to begin rehearsals. The composer Kaija Saariaho, the director Simon Stone, and the singer Magdalena Kožená, in a panel discussion with Pierre Audi, the general director of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, examine the impact of the health crisis on the future of this kind of production, and explain how the work can continue despite the constraints. Magdalena Kožená perform a recital of Brahms, Dvořák, Debussy, Strauss and Janáček, accompanied by Sir Simon Rattle. Esa-Pekka Salonen and Katie Mitchell’s production of Debussy’s "Pelléas et Mélisande" (2016 Festival d’Aix) is rebroadcast, with an introduction by Barbara Hannigan, thus completing this day structured around the theme of family units shattered by unspoken tragedy.
Tuesday 7 July 2020
WHAT ARE THE FABLES FOR OPERA TODAY? — What words and what opera stories can best express today’s socioeconomic, political and environmental realities and the vivid thoughts and emotions they evoke in us? The stage director Peter Sellars discuss these topics with the novelist, and the librettist of Innocence, Sofi Oksanen, as they take a fresh look at the idea of engaged art. Marie-Laure Garnier and Célia Oneto Bensaid perform a recital of "Quatre Instants", by Kaija Saariaho based on a text by Amin Maalouf, as well as songs by Sibelius, another leading figure in Finish music. The panel discussion on what fables work best for opera today will be extended with the rebroadcast of Emilio Pomarico and Joël Pommera’s production of Philippe Boesmans’ "Pinocchio" (2017 Festival d’Aix), introduced by Stéphane Degout.
Wednesday 8 July 2020
KEEP DREAMING: REINVENTING SPECTACULAR ENCHANTMENT — Given the difficult circumstances the world is living through today, we must continue dreaming, and must therefore rediscover the key to artistic enchantment. While the great aesthetics of the past still inspire us, the current crisis has shown the importance of new technologies, as both alternative media and creative spaces. This is the topic of the discussion between director Barrie Kosky, conductor Leonardo García Alarcón, and saxophonist, composer, and director of the Conservatoire de Marseille Raphaël Imbert. Jakub Józef Orliński is an excellent example of this new generation of artists who are equally at home in the classical and popular worlds. He is participating in his own way: he is cultivating his personal expression, accompanied by Michał Biel, in a recital, beginning with the songs of Händel and Purcell that paved his way to success, and then moving on to a large selection of Polish melodies of the twentieth century. A rebroadcast of Kazushi Ono and Robert Carsen’s production of Britten’s "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" (2015 Festival d’Aix), presented by Robert Carsen, perfectly illustrates the theme of the day.
Thursday 9 July 2020
ARTIST MOBILITY AND THE CHALLENGE OF BORDERS — One of the persistent unknowns of this edition has been: Will artists be able to cross international borders? This is but a new iteration of a problem that already exists for many artists, for economic, geopolitical and institutional reasons. What role can networks play to address this issue? Vincent Agrech, music journalist and former head of the Music Department at the Institut Français, poses the question to Bernard Foccroulle, former director of both La Monnaie in Brussels and the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence; Kathryn McDowell, managing director of the London Symphony Orchestra; Michele Cantoni, general director of the Palestine Philharmonie; and Tom Leick-Burns, artistic director of Les Théâtres de la Ville de Luxembourg and member of enoa (the European Network of Opera Academies, founded and run by the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence since 2009). A recital by Paul-Antoine Bénos-Djian and Bianca Chillemi takes us on a journey through Spain and South America with twentieth-century melodies that exalt itinerant and marginalized artists. We then return to Spain, and (re)discover the epitome of the mythical wanderer and the protean hero of Modern Europe, with a rebroadcast of Louis Langrée and Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production of "Don Giovanni" (2010 Festival d’Aix), presented by Marlis Petersen.
Friday 10 July 2020
THE 2020 EDITION: REIMAGINING THE FESTIVAL — The day’s highlight is a concert performed at the Théâtre de l’Archevêché by the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble, conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock, in a programme that interweaves Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth) with arias and duos by Mozart, performed by Véronique Gens and Stanislas de Barbeyrac. This reconnection with the Festival’s origins—Mozart at the Archevêché—also serves as opportunity for John Allison, music critic at The Daily Telegraph, to ask Pierre Audi and certain conductors of the 2020 edition—Sir Simon Rattle, Susanna Mälkki and Thomas Hengelbrock—what they consider to be the significance and the purpose of the Festival, given the unique experience of this suspended edition. The homage to the style and spirit of Mozart’s takes full form with Simon McBurney and Eivind Gullberg Jensen’s production of Stravinsky’s "The Rake’s Progress" (2017 Festival d’Aix): the production presents a different way of rethinking opera’s role in our culture, as a cross between permanence and renewal. This rebroadcast is introduced by Kyle Ketelsen.
Saturday 11 July 2020
SUPPORTING CAREERS IN THE PERFORMING ARTS: TOWARDS MORE EQUALITY — Barriers to equal opportunities can arise throughout an artist’s carer. This subject is the focus of a group interview with the director Katie Mitchell, who leads the Festival’s “Women Opera Makers Workshop”; Émilie Delorme, director of the CNSMDP; and Estelle Lowry, director of Musique nouvelle en liberté. The discussion especially focuses on the role that institutes and schools of artistic studies can play, and the role that artist mentors can take on. In its own way, a concert by the Trio Sōra—devoted to Beethoven and Kelly-Marie Murphy—also addresses the issue of programming women composers. The rebroadcast of Daniele Rustioni et Christophe Honoré’s production of Puccini’s "Tosca" (2019 Festival d’Aix), presented by Catherine Malfitano, serves as a further opportunity to freely reflect on the highs and the lows of an artistic career at all ages.
Sunday 12 July 2020
ARTISTIC CREATION AND HUMANITY’S IMPACT ON THE WORLD — How can we take on the extreme challenges of the Anthropocene, this era on which humankind has left an irreversible impact? The performing arts have tackled the subject in a concrete way, by addressing the issue of eco-responsibility and examining the concept of Anthropocene as it is manifested in works of art. Isabelle Moindrot, professor at the Université Paris 8 and expert in opera, addresses these two topics with the stage director Simon McBurney, joined by the scholar and stage director Frédérique Aït-Touati and the landscape architect Bas Smets. For his debut at the Festival d’Aix, Christian Gerhaher, accompanied by Gerold Huber, applies his Liedersänger talents to great works by Schubert and Berg, with variations on the theme of a soothing or tormenting nature representing reflections of the soul. The rebroadcast of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Ivo van Hove’s production of Kurt Weill’s "Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny" (2019 Festival d’Aix) expands upon this contemplation of dystopia and the need to act.
Monday 13 July 2020
CREATING IN THE MEDITERRANEAN — This day focuses largely on the Mediterranean Youth Orchestra. Its two leading figures—Fabrizio Cassol, artistic director of the intercultural creation session (Medinea Session); and Duncan Ward, music director of MYO’s symphonic sessions— discuss the issues that arise for musical creation initiatives in the Mediterranean. The morning show features a rebroadcast of a 2017 symphonic programme constructed around the figure of Sheherazade, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado and with the participation of Virginie Verrez. The concert portion of the day features the Intercultural Medinea Session, which, under the leadership of Fabrizio Cassol, brings together 10 young improvisers, present either at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis or, for those unable to travel abroad, in their home countries. Finally, the rebroadcast of Pablo Heras-Casado and Dmitri Tcherniakov’s production of "Carmen" (2017 Festival d’Aix), presented by Stéphanie d’Oustrac, closes this sequence devoted to the Mediterranean.
Tuesday 14 July 2020
NEW FORMS, AND A NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH THE AUDIENCE — Artists and cultural institutions endeavour in general to renew artistic forms and practices, in order to improve their integration within their cities. Anthony Heidweiller, who leads the Festival’s “Opéra de-ci de-là” project, a laboratory of short works created by young artists in the heart of Aix; Mark Withers, mentor of the “Outreach Skills Workshop; Frédérique Tessier and Marie-Laure Stephan, representatives of Passerelles, the Festival d’Aix’s educational and socio-artistic department; and Philippe Franceschi, the choirmaster of Antequiem and the initiator and developer of the participative project “Accents Balkans,” evoke their experiences, with a focus on inclusion, participation and, more generally, the work of transmitting knowledge, tradition and culture. The rebroadcast of Mozart’s "Requiem", a non-theatrical work that was staged by Romeo Castellucci and then further integrated, along with some of the composer’s other works, into a production by Raphaël Pichon (2019 Festival d’Aix), perfectly illustrates this new type of artistic experimentation. But first, a recital by Sabine Devieilhe and Mathieu Pordoy mixes lieder by Mozart and Strauss, highlighting the elective affinities that connect the two artists.
Wednesday 15 July 2020
BUILDING A FUTURE: THE FESTIVAL IN ITS OWN REGION — #THEDIGITALSTAGE is finishing with a flourish, with a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Duncan Ward—the concert, to be performed at Saint Luke’s in London, is specially dedicated to the people of Aix. A last panel discussion focuses on the Festival’s local integration and its regional partnerships, which provide it with a strong and unique base from which to build its national and international renown. Looking towards the future, Pierre Audi discusses with Maja Hoffman, founder of the Luma Foundation in Arles; Macha Makeïeff, director of the Théâtre de La Criée in Marseille; and Jean-François Chougnet, director of the Mucem. Together, they evoke the principles and projects that help motivate players in the world of culture to transform the hardships of today into the opportunities of tomorrow. Lastly, the rebroadcast of Esa-Pekka Salonen and Patrice Chéreau’s production of Richard Strauss’s "Elektra" (2013 Festival d’Aix), introduced by Waltraud Meier, ends this utterly unique edition in a blaze of glory.