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Edinburgh International Festival 2012 | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh International Festival 2012

Edinburgh International Festival 2012

The full guide to this year's landmark arts festival for music, theatre, dance and opera

Edinburgh 2012: gathering in all the nations in Olympics year

The Edinburgh International Festival runs this year from 9 August to 2 September, with an energetically global look. Forty-seven nations - around a third of the world's countries - are represented in a conscious reflection of the focus of the London Olympics.

A new unorthodox theatrical space has been added with the conversion of the Royal Highland Centre’s Lowland Hall for three unconventional stagings: Grzegorz Jarzyna’s Macbeth, Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir (Aurores) and Christoph Marthaler's comic adaptation of My Fair Lady, Meine faire Dame – ein Sprachlabor.

Other theatre directors making rare appearances in the UK at the Edinburgh International Festival this year include Tadashi Suzuki with his version of Electra and Dmitry Krymov with his A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It). Romanian director Silviu Purcărete has created a staging of Gulliver’s Travels with Irish folk and rock musician Shaun Davey,

2008: Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (As You Like It) and The Rape of Lucrece performed by Camille O’Sullivan and Feargal Murray make up a trio of World Shakespeare 2012 productions. Scotland is highlighted in a new James MacMillan work with the Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals as part of a series of early evening concerts in Greyfriars Kirk and three opera premieres from Scottish Opera. World-famous Scottish performers Nicola Benedetti, Malcolm Martineau and Steven Osborne are among those who feature in the classical music recital programmes.

Major operas include Opera North's new staging of Janáček’s The Makropulos Case and Welsh National Opera in a concert performance with Ben Heppner of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. Valery Gergiev conducts four concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra of Brahms and Szymanowski symphonies, and then turns to the Mariinsky Ballet who dance Alexei Ratmansky's new Cinderella.

Other visiting orchestras include the Cleveland, Les Arts Florissants and the Budapest Festival Orchestra, visiting dance companies include Ballet Preljocaj from France with a Stockhausen double bill, Deborah Colker's Brazilian company and Juilliard Dance from New York's top conservatoire. Folk music from Afghanistan and Azerbaijan, court dance from Japan and 16th-century Scottish music are among rareties heard.

The Queen's Hall morning concerts include Maria João Pires, Leif Ove Andsnes, the Calder Quartet, Leonidas Kavakos, Nikolai Lugansky, Daniil Trifonov, Rebecca Evans, John Williams, John Etheridge, Llŷr Williams and the Emerson String Quartet, and 14 of the concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.

Thousands of runners and walkers will become the audience and also the performers in NVA's visual light installation created by human activity throughout the festival on Edinburgh's mountain Arthur’s Seat - at the foot of which the first International Culture Summit will be hosted in the Scottish Parliament. Culture Ministers from around the world will join in discussing the power and role of culture in international dialogue in the two days following the closing of the Olympic Games.

Public booking is now open.nva


WEEK 1: 9-17 August


NVA's Speed of Light, 9 Aug-1 Sep (except 13-14, 20-21, 28 Aug), Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Park

Outdoor public art installation is unveiled which uses mass crowd-walking and running to create dramatic lighting effects (pictured above) on Edinburgh's famous little mountain. The public takes part via guided walking groups that will become part of the action and create it, through their staged interventions (some physical fitness required). Creative director is Angus Farquhar, sound design is by Resonance Radio Orchestra (2hr 30m)

TR Warszawa, 2008: Macbeth, 11-13 Aug, 15-18 Aug, Royal Highland Centre

Grzegorz Jarzyna's TR Warszawa return to the Edinburgh Festival (4.48 Psychosis in 2008 was his work) with a contemporary relocation of Macbeth into a modern Middle Eastern conflict, using pyrotechnics, video effects and a rich soundscape. Part of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012. (2hr 10m)

wattGate Theatre, Watt by Samuel Beckett, 11-14 Aug, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Dublin's Gate Theatre production of a one-man staging by Barry McGovern from Beckett's novel, Watt, with McGovern (pictured right) as an itinerant character on the road from the train station. Directed by Tom Creed (1hr) [see 13 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Opera North, The Makropulos Case, 11 & 13 Aug, Festival Theatre

Janáček’s mysterious thriller of an opera concerns a woman whose age is deceptive, and a will over which lawyers have been disagreeing for a century. Richard Farnes conducts, Tom Cairns directs this premiere of a new production, with Ylva Kihlberg and Paul Nilon leading the cast. (2hr 30m) [see 12 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Deborah Colker Dance Company, Tatyana, 11-14 Aug, Playhouse

A contemporary dance version of Pushkin's Eugene Onegin, set in modern Brazil. Colker is known for overblown staging tricks and noisy physicality. (1hr 35m)

Suzuki Company of Toga, Waiting for Orestes: Electra, 11-13 Aug, King's Theatre

Suzuki Company of Toga stages the Greek myth of Electra who waits in vain for her brother Orestes to help her avenge their mother's murder of their father. This Japanese/Korean version (with English supertitles) uses text drawn from Euripides's classic play and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, librettist for Richard Strauss's Elektra opera. (1hr)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Runnicles, Alpine Symphony, 11 Aug, Usher Hall

Donald Runnicles conducts Beethoven's Pastoral Symphony and Strauss's Alpine Symphony (1hr 50m)

Ferrier Centenary Celebration Concert, 11 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)

To mark the centenary of the great contralto singer Kathleen Ferrier, a concert by two winners of the annual singing award set up in her name: Kitty Whately and Njabulo Madlala, alongside two established stars, baritone Sir Thomas Allen and pianist Roger Vignoles. [see 11 Aug, Reflections on Song]

Reflections on Song: Sir Thomas Allen, 11 Aug, The Hub

International English baritone talks about his life and career in opera and music [see 11 Aug Queen's Hall]

deborah voigtDeborah Voigt (soprano), Brian Zeger (piano), 12 Aug, Usher Hall

American soprano Deborah Voigt since songs by Amy Beach, Verdi, Richard Strauss, Respighi, Ben Moore and Leonard Bernstein (1hr 35m)

Conversations with Artists: Tom Cairns, 12 Aug, The Hub

Director of Opera North's The Makropulos Case talks about his new production [see 11 & 13 Aug, Festival Theatre].

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Norrington, A Midsummer Night's Dream, 13 Aug, Usher Hall

Sir Roger Norrington conducts two works of summer nights: Berlioz's Les nuits d'été, with Angelika Kirchschlager, and Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Trio Zimmermann, 13 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Formed in 2007 by violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, violist Antoine Tamestit and cellist Christian Poltéra, this acclaimed new trio performs Schubert, Schoenberg and Mozart trios.

His Majesty's Sagbutts and Cornetts/Concerto Palatino, 13 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

Two top early brass ensembles in a celebration of Giovanni Gabrieli in the 400th anniversary year of his death

Conversations with Artists: Barry McGovern, 13 Aug, The Hub

Actor-director McGovern, a Samuel Beckett specialist, talks about his adaptation of Beckett's Watt

meine faire dameTheater Basel, Meine faire Dame - ein Sprachlabor ("My Fair Lady - a Speech Laboratory"), 14, 15, 17-19 Aug, Royal Highland Centre

Theater Basel under director Christoph Marthaler perform a new (and loose) comic take on My Fair Lady, where students in a language laboratory try to learn English from an eccentric professor, and expert in southern English accents, who finds a menacing note in a bouquet of flowers. Performed in English and German (with English supertitles) (2hr) [see 15 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

London Philharmonic Orchestra/Jurowski, 14 Aug, Usher Hall

Vladimir Jurowski conducts an all-Russian programme with a theme of bells - Rachmaninov's The Bells, Denisov's Bells in the Fog, Myaskovsky's Silentium and Shchedrin's Concerto for Orchestra No 2 The Chimes.

Antonio Meneses (cello), Maria João Pires (piano), 14 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)

Outstanding Portuguese pianist Pires plays Brahms's op 117 intermezzi and Mendelssohn Songs Without Words, and joins Brazil's Meneses, formerly one of the Beaux Arts Trio, to play Schubert's Arpeggione and Brahms's First Cello Sonata.

Dialogos/Kantaduri, Dalmatica, 14 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

Very early Middle Ages music from Dalmatia sung by the female Dialogos ensemble from Paris and the male Croatian vocal group Kantaduri.

Welsh National Opera, Tristan und Isolde (in concert), 15 Aug, Usher Hall

Concert performance under Lothar Koenigs with two eminent Wagnerian voices, Ben Heppner and Jennifer Wilson, as the doomed lovers of Wagner's great love tragedy. Sung in German. (5hr 10m)

les vents francaisLes Vents Français, 15 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Festival debut for a quintet of top wind players, flautist Emmanuel Pahud, oboist François Leleux, clarinettist Paul Meyer, bassoonist Gilbert Audin and horn player Radovan Vlatkovic, in a programme of music by Ibert, Ravel, Milhaud, Barber, Zemlinsky and Taffanel.

Conversations with Artists: Graham Valentine, 15 Aug, The Hub

Scots-born actor Graham Valentine talks about performing in Theater Basel's Meine faire Dame - ein Sprachlabor.

Concerto Caledonia, 15 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

Leading Scottish early-music ensemble performs work by the little-known 16th-century Scot Tobias Hume.

valery gergievLondon Symphony Orchestra/Gergiev + Benedetti, Spence, Kavakos, Matsuev, Brahms and Szymanowski, 16, 17, 18, 19 Aug, Usher Hall

Four concerts conducted by Valery Gergiev pairing the four symphonies by Brahms and Szymanowski, with Nicola Benedetti (16 Aug) and Leonidas Kavakos (19 Aug) playing Szymanowski's violin concerti 1 & 2, Toby Spence and Edinburgh Festival Chorus in Szymanowski's Symphony No 3 (18 Aug) and Denis Matsuev as the soloist in Szymanowski's Symphony No 4 (19 Aug) [see 30 Aug for Gergiev and the Mariinsky Ballet] [see 17 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Leif Ove Andsnes, 16 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes performs two Beethoven sonatas, op 53 Waldstein and op 54, and a group of Chopin waltzes, ballades and nocturnes.

Arcangelo/Iestyn Davies, 16 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk (5.45pm)

Countertenor Iestyn Davies leads a young period instrument group in its Festival debut in vocal fireworks by Handel and Porpora.

Leonidas Kavakos (violin), Nikolai Lugansky (piano), 17 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Two star performers together in Janáček, Brahms and Respighi violin sonatas, and Stravinsky's Duo Concertante. [See also 19 Aug, LSO/Gergiev]

gulliver's travelsRadu Stanca National Theatre of Sibiu, Gulliver's Travels, 17-20 Aug, King's Theatre

Romania's Radu Stanca National Theatre of Sibiu has inspired an epic visionary staging of Jonathan Swift's story in Romanian (with English supertitles) by Silviu Purcarete, whose Faust was acclaimed at the 2009 Edinburgh Festival. Irishman Shaun Davey's music drives the imaginative journey for this world premiere (2hr)

Ballet Preljocaj, And then, 1000 years of peace, 17-19 Aug, Playhouse

France's contemporary dancemaker Angelin Preljocaj performs a recent collaboration he made with the Bolshoi Theatre, now adapted, that aims to "reveal what lies in the darkest depths of being". Words aside, this may be worth catching, for Preljocaj has a genuine combination of choreographic imagination and theatrical sense. (1hr 45m) [see 18 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Les Arts Florissants, David et Jonathas, 17, 19, 20 Aug, Festival Theatre

The celebrated early opera specialist William Christie conducts his renowned orchestra in Charpentier's opera of 1688, which interprets the Old Testament tragedy of King Saul and his suspiciousness over his son Jonathas's close friendship with David (the killer of Goliath). The King's steps to break the friendship up result in his and his son's tragic deaths. Jonathas is sung by a soprano (Ana Quintans) in this opera, David by a counter-tenor (Pascal Charbonneau), Saul by Neal Davies. This is a new production from the Aix-en-Provence Festival. (2hr 45m) [see 17 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Conversations with Artists: William Christie, 17 Aug, The Hub

Celebrated US conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants talks about Charpentier's opera David et Jonathas

Conversations with Artists: Nicola Benedetti, 17 Aug, The Hub

Scottish violinist talks about performing with the LSO and Valery Gergiev at this year's festival [see 16 Aug, Usher Hall]

homayun sakhiHomayun Sakhi Trio, 17 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

Afghanistan's maestro of the rubab, a plucked stringed instrument, Homayun Sakhi gives a rare opportunity to hear the expressive music of his country. [Masterclass 16 Aug, The Hub]

Next page  Week 2: 18-24 August

WEEK 2: 18-24 August


Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company, Uncharted seas/ Timeless, 18-19 Aug, Royal Lyceum Theatre

A double bill in the beautiful Indian Kathak style, created by Aditi Mangaldas in styles both classical and increasingly contemporary, with live musicians. (1hr 45m)

Les Arts Florissants/Agnew, 18 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)

Paul Agnew conducts the great Baroque specialists in early French opera music by Cambert, Lully, Grabu, Charpentier and Rameau, sung by sopranos Elodie Fonnard and Rachel Redmond, tenor Reinoud Van Mechelen and bass Pierre Bessière.

Conversations with Artists: Angelin Preljocaj, 18 Aug, The Hub

French choreographer talks about his 2010 creation And then, one thousand years of peace. [see 17-19 Aug, Playhouse]

villa discursoTeatro Playa, Villa+Discurso, 20-21 Aug, The Hub

Chilean writer-director Guillermo Calderón's double bill with Teatro Playa takes on his country's recent past and the appalling events of the Pinochet era. Villa shows contemporary people arguing what to do with General Pinochet's villa, the notorious scene for much torture and death. Discurso imagines the last hours in office of the recent President Michelle Bachelet (a play developed at the Royal Court, London). Performed in Spanish with English supertitles (2hr 15m)

Orchestre des Champs-Elysées/Herreweghe, Brahms and Bruckner, 20 Aug, Usher Hall

Philippe Herreweghe and his period-instrument orchestra play Brahms's Gesang der Parzen, and Bruckner's Te Deum and Ninth Symphony. Collegium Vocale Gent are the chorus, with soloists Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, Okka von der Damerau, Maximilian Schitt and Tareq Nazmi.

Calder Quartet, 20 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Los Angeles quartet demonstrate their eclectic range with Mozart and Mendelssohn string quartets alongside contemporary work by Thomas Adès and US composer Andrew Norman.

Ricercar Consort, 20 & 21 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

Philippe Pierlot and his period-instrument group return for two concerts of early English music: Purcell and Blow on 20 August, and Byrd and Tye on 21 August

Rebecca Evans (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano), 21 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans and Scots pianist Malcolm Martineau give a varied recital from Purcell and Bellini to Saint-Saëns and Dilys Elwyn-Edwards. [see 22 Aug, Reflections on Song]

Cleveland Orchestra/Welser-Möst, Lutoslawski and Smetana, 21 Aug, Usher Hall

Franz Welser-Möst conducts Polish and Bohemian music - Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra and the first four sections of Smetana's Má Vlast [see tomorrow]

Cleveland Orchestra/Welser-Möst, Lutoslawski, Smetana and Shostakovich, 22 Aug, Usher Hall

German pianist Lars Vogt joins the Clevelanders for Lutoslawski's Piano Concerto; Smetana's Má Vlast parts 5 & 6 [see yesterday], and Shostakovich's Sixth symphony

camilleRoyal Shakespeare Company, The Rape of Lucrece, 22-26 Aug, Royal Lyceum Theatre

Singer Camille O'Sullivan, with Feargal Murray on piano, performs a new version of Shakespeare's tragic poem - a story of lust, rape and politics - created with the Royal Shakespeare Company. (1hr 20m) [see 25 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

John Williams (guitar), John Etheridge (guitar), 22 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Two guitarists - one celebrated in classical, the other in jazz and blues - get together for one of their long-standing collaborations in styles.

Gagaku, Imperial Court Music and Dance of Japan, 22 Aug, Festival Theatre

Musicians of the Imperial Household Agency, Tokyo, perform Gagaku, said to be the world's oldest living orchestral tradition, dating to fifth-century Japan, and incorporating the music of wind, percussion and plucked stringed instruments with stylised dancers. This is its only UK performance. (2hr 10m)

preljocajBallet Preljocaj, Helikopter/Eldorado, 22 Aug, Playhouse

Just one performance of Angelin Preljocaj's double bill of dance to Karlheinz Stockhausen's score, with choreography and stagings both impelled from the ideas in the music. Helikopter, a splendidly staged visualisation complete with huge propellers and some thrilling physicality, was a big hit in London on a showing a few years ago. (1hr 40m)

Hebrides Ensemble/Synergy Vocals, James MacMillan World Premiere, 22 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

World premiere of James MacMillan's hour-long work, Since it was the day of preparation..., based on the story of the Resurrection, with bass Brindley Sherratt as Christ. [see 23 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Reflections on Song: Rebecca Evans and Malcolm Martineau, 22 Aug, The Hub

Welsh soprano Rebecca Evans and Scots pianist Malcolm Martineau discuss the art of singing [see 21 Aug, Queen's Hall]

Théâtre du Soleil, Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir (Aurores) ("The Castaways of the Fol Espoir (Sunrises)), 23-25, 27 & 28 Aug, Royal Highland Centre

Ariane Mnouchkine's renowned Théâtre du Soleil makes a very rare UK visit with one of its typically complex creations, loosely based on a Jules Verne story, involving a gold rush, genocidal Indian hunters, Darwin and Queen Victoria. All of this is wrapped into a silent movie being made pre-First World War about a ship that runs aground in high seas. Performed in French and English (with English supertitles). (4hr 10m)

European Union Youth Orchestra/Noseda, 23 Aug, Usher Hall

Gianandrea Noseda conducts the EUYO and American pianist Garrick Ohlsson in Busoni's enormous Piano Concerto. Also Debussy's Nocturnes and the UK premiere of Richard Causton's Twenty-Seven Heavens.

Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone), Justus Zeyen (piano), 23 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

One of Venezuela's new opera stars gives a recital ranging from Schubert songs and Meyerbeer rareties to Liszt's Petrarch Sonnets.

Alim Qasimov Ensemble, 23 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk

One of the great vocalists in folk music, Qasimov performs Azeri Mugham, the classical music of Azerbaijan with his daughter Fargana. [Masterclass 22 Aug, The Hub]

Conversations with Artists: Hebrides Ensemble and Synergy Vocals, 23 Aug, The Hub

Scotland's leading contemporary music group and vocalists discuss presenting James MacMillan's world premiere at Edinburgh 2012 [see 22 Aug, Greyfriars Kirk]

Laboratory School of Dramatic Art, A Midsummer Night's Dream (As You Like It), 24-26 Aug, King's Theatre

Another World Shakespeare 2012 contribution, this interpretation of Shakespeare's famous dream comedy coming from Russia's Dmitry Krymov and his Laboratory School of Dramatic Art, known for ambitious visuals and highly original concepts. Performed in Russian with English supertitles. (2hr 30m)

Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester/Gatti, Wagner and Mahler, 24 Aug, Usher Hall

Daniele Gatti conducts another celebrated youth orchestra in music from Wagner's opera Parsifal and Mahler's Seventh Symphony.

daniil trifonovDaniil Trifonov (piano), 24 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Rising new Russian piano star Trifonov who won both last year's Tchaikovsky international competition in Russia and Israel's Artur Rubinstein Competition performs Scriabin's Third Piano Sonata, Medtner's Three Fairy Tales, Debussy Images book 1, Stravinsky Three Dances from Petrushka, and Chopin Etudes op 25.

Next page  Week 3: 25 August-1 September

WEEK 3: 25 August-1 September


Leigh Warren+Dancers, Breathe/ Impulse, 25-26 Aug, Festival Theatre

Double bill by Australian contemporary dance company contrasting the old tradition of the didgeridoo with the most modern music and visual technology. Breathe incorporates the music and presence of didgeridoo master William Barton; Impulse is set to Michael Nyman's Second String Quartet, played live on stage by the Zephyr Quartet. (1hr 35m) [Masterclass 26 Aug, Dance Base]

Anne Schwanewilms (soprano), Malcolm Martineau (piano), 25 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am)

German lyric opera soprano Anne Schwanewilms is equally known for her recitals, and sings Debussy, Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss.

Juilliard Dance, The Waldstein Sonata/ Gnawa/ Episode 31, 25-27 Aug, Playhouse

New York's dance school graduates perform a triple bill by the great dance pioneer José Limón, using Beethoven's piano sonata played live, Nacho Duato, the Spanish choreographer, using Mediterranean popular music, and Alexander Ekman, a rising Swedish choreographer known for work with NDT2 (2hr)

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Volkov, The Nutcracker, 25 Aug, Usher Hall

Ilan Volkov conducts Tchaikovsky's magical ballet in full as originally composed, including music sometimes omitted in stagings.

Conversations with Artists: Camille O'Sullivan, 25 Aug, The Hub

Singer Camille O'Sullivan talks about her solo role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's presentation of The Rape of Lucrece [see 22-26 Aug]

Budapest Festival Orchestra/Fischer, Bartók and Mahler, 26 Aug, Usher Hall

Iván Fischer conducts his celebrated Hungarian orchestra in his countryman Bartók's Hungarian Peasant Songs and the First Violin Concerto, with soloist Jószef Lendvay, and Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

the sixteenThe Sixteen, King Arthur (in concert), 27 Aug, Usher Hall

Purcell's magnificent Restoration drama, with a libretto by poet laureate John Dryden, recounts the endurance by King Arthur at Camelot of his battles with the heathen Saxons, as he tries to protect his love, the blind Princess Emmeline of Cornwall. The music includes "Fairest isle" and majestic patriotic set pieces. Conducted by Harry Christophers, with Sophie Bevan, Robert Murray and Jonathan Lemalu. (2hr 10m)

Dietrich Henschel (baritone), Steven Osborne (piano), 27 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Songs by Hugo Wolf, Erich Korngold, Frank Martin and Mahler performed by the German baritone Dietrich Henschel and Scottish pianist Steven Osborne.

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Nelsons, Gubaidulina and Sibelius, 28 Aug, Usher Hall

Andris Nelsons conducts Sofia Gubailuina's profound Russian Violin Concerto, played by Latvian soloist Baiba Skride, and Sibelius's Second Symphony.

Francesco Piemontesi (piano), 28 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Rising young Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi plays piano sonatas by Mozart (D major, K284) and Schubert (A minor, D845), Webern's Variations op 27 and Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien.

Reflections on Song: Ian Bostridge with Sir John Tusa, 28 Aug, The Hub

English tenor Ian Bostridge discusses his recent collections of essays on music, A Singer's Notebook. 

david danielsThe English Concert and David Daniels/Bicket, 29 Aug, Usher Hall

Counter-tenor David Daniels joins Harry Bicket's period-instrument specialists for Scarlatti, Vivaldi and Handel arias, while violinist Nadja Zwiener and oboist Katharina Spreckelsen play Bach oboe and violin concerti.

Vanishing Point, Wonderland, 29 Aug-1 Sep, Royal Lyceum Theatre

A production starting from the themes of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, created by Vanishing Point under director Matthew Lenton, with an evocation of danger and adult risks for a young woman going on a journey. (2hr)

Toby Spence (tenor), Julian Milford (piano), 29 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

British opera star Toby Spence sings Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte, Mahler's Des Knaben Wunderhorn and Schumann's Dichterliebe with his regular recital partner Julian Milford. [See 29 Aug, Reflections on Song]

Reflections on Song: Toby Spence, 29 Aug, The Hub

Following his Queen's Hall recital, the tenor talks about the art of singing.

Scottish Opera, The Lady from the Sea (WORLD PREMIERE), 29 Aug, 1 Sep (9pm) King's Theatre

Scotland's national opera company in the first of four new operas they show at the Festival. Craig Armstrong's The Lady from the Sea is based on Henrik Ibsen's play about a wife whose mind is obsessed by a sailor she once knew, and who returns to haunt her. Armstrong composed music for Baz Luhrmann's films Romeo+Juliet and Moulin Rouge. Derek Clark conducts, Harry Fehr directs. (1hr 20m)

scottish operaScottish Opera, In the Locked Room & Ghost Patrol (WORLD PREMIERES), 30 Aug, 1 Sep (noon), 2 Sep, King's Theatre

A double world premiere of operas by Huw Watkins and Stuart MacRae. Watkins's In the Locked Room uses a Thomas Hardy short story about the temptations of a locked door; MacRae's Ghost Patrol shows people meeting in a modern bar who all have something to hide. Michael Rafferty conducts. (2hr 10m)

Philharmonia Orchestra/Salonen, Unsuk Chin and Bruckner, 30 Aug, Usher Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Bruckner's Fourth Symphony (the Romantic) and soloist Viviane Hagner performs the violin concerto written for her by South Korean composer Unsuk Chin in 2002.

Llyr Williams (piano), 30 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

Welsh pianist Llyr Williams performs an all-Liszt recital, including Les jeux d'eaux à la Villa d'Este and the huge B minor piano sonata.

Batsheva Dance Company, Hora, 30 Aug-1 Sep, Playhouse

Ohad Naharin, probably Israel's most famous contemporary choreographer today, known for energetic athleticism, offers his company in his 2010 creation Hora, whose soundtrack ranges from Wagner and Debussy into electronic fantasies of Ryoji Ikeda. (1hr)

mariinsky cinderellaMariinsky Ballet, Cinderella, 30 Aug-1 Sep Festival Theatre

Formerly known as the Kirov, the great St Petersburg ballet troupe and orchestra, under music director Valery Gergiev, give four performances of the new Cinderella created for them by Alexei Ratmansky, Russia's outstanding new classical choreographer, former Bolshoi Ballet chief, and now American Ballet Theatre's resident genius. Prokofiev's score is full of fairy magic and ugly sister humour. (2hr 50m)

Scottish Opera, Clemency, 31 Aug, 1 Sep (4pm) King's Theatre

James MacMillan, leading classical composer of today, created his opera last year on a story about the strange pregnancy of the elderly Sarah and Abraham - a contemporary twist on the Old Testament story. (50m)

Scottish Chamber Orchestra/Ticciati, Mahler, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, 31 Aug, Usher Hall

Robin Ticciati conducts Alina Pogostkina in Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto; Britten arranged the second movement of Mahler's Third Symphony to make What the Wild Flowers Tell Me, and in Shostakovich's 14th Symphony, singers Sir Willard White and Anja Kampe join the orchestral forces.

Australian Chamber Orchestra/Tognetti, 31 Aug, Queen's Hall (11am) BROADCAST LIVE on BBC Radio 3

The Australian troupe under violinist Richard Tognetti are known for always standing up to play, giving them a particular energy. Their programme includes CPE Bach's String Symphony in B flat, Grieg's String Quartet in G minor, arranged for them by Tognetti, and Peteris Vasks' composition for them, Vox Amoris.

Conversations with Artists: Emerson String Quartet, 31 Aug, The Hub

The eminent New Yorkers discuss the music in their Edinburgh recital [see 1 Sep, Queen's Hall]

Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Robertson, Belshazzar's Feast, 1 Sep, Usher Hall

David Robertson conducts the concluding concert with Edinburgh Festival Chorus and baritone Neal Davies joining for Walton's fiery choral creation telling of the fall of the Babylonian king Belshazzar. Also on the programme are two American contemporaries of Walton's - Charles Ives's The Unanswered Question and Morton Feldman's Coptic Light.

emerson quartetEmerson String Quartet, 1 Sep, Queen's Hall (11am)

Leading US string quartet concludes the festival's music programme with two late masterpieces by Mozart (K575) and Beethoven (op 127) and Thomas Adès's The Four Quarters, which they premiered last year. [see 31 Aug, Conversations with Artists]

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, 2 Sep, Ross Theatre and Princes Street Gardens

The traditional magnificent pyrotechnics of Edinburgh accompanied by music, this year honouring the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Festival's Shakespeare theme. Garry Walker conducts Walton's patriotic Orb and Sceptre, written for the Queen's coronation in 1953, and his Henry V suite, Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, and Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on Greensleeves. (45m)


  • Edinburgh International Festival website for all booking and details
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival website for fringe details, 3-27 August 
  • Major private supporters of the festival events include the Dunard Fund (NVA, Opera North, Les Arts Florissants), Harold Mitchell and BP (Mariinsky Ballet), Baillie Gifford (two youth orchestras, the Gustav Mahler Jugendorchester and European Union Youth Orchestra), Classic FM (Deborah Voigt, King Arthur), Shell UK (LSO/Gergiev series), Léan Scully EIF Fund (Juilliard Dance), Jenners (Deborah Colker Dance Company), American Friends of the Edinburgh International Festival (The English Concert, David Daniels), Friends of the EIF (Cleveland Orchestra).

Thousands of walkers will become both audience and performers in NVA's visual light installation on Edinburgh's mountain Arthur’s Seat

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