Classical music and opera picks at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

This article is from 2019

Classical music and opera picks at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

Christine Goerke, Gőtterdämmerung / credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

Including LA Phil, Breaking the Waves and Eugene Onegin

This year's classical programme at the Edinburgh International Festival once again has something to suit just about every taste, whether that's early music, romantic symphonies or music with the ink not long dry on the score from one of Britain's greatest composers.

Marking the culmination of four years of knock-out concert performances of Wagner's Ring cycle of operas, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Sir Andrew Davis give what promises to be a gloriously triumphant finale to this year's EIF in a mere six and a half hours.
Gőtterdämmerung, Usher Hall, Sun 25 Aug, 4pm.

Los Angeles Philharmonic 2
John Adams' third piano concerto – Must The Devil Have All the Good Tunes? – is given its European premiere with phenomenal Chinese pianist Yuja Wang in the solo role. With elements of funk, gospel, swing, jazz plus a whole kitchen sink of percussion and a honky-tonk piano, the piece has wowed audiences since being first heard in LA in March and then on tour in Seoul and Tokyo.
Los Angeles Philharmonic 2, Usher Hall, Sun 4 Aug, 7.30pm.

Dunedin Consort
EIF turns to the home team to bring the excellent Queen's Hall morning recital series to a close. Dunedin Consort give a rare chance to hear Bach in quasi operatic mode, as they perform two of his most joyful secular cantatas, Geschwinde, ihr wirbeinden Winde and Zerreisset, zersprenget, zertrümmert.
Dunedin Consort, Queen's Hall, Sat 24 Aug, 11am.

Classical music and opera picks at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

Yuja Wang, Los Angeles Philharmonic 2

The Sixteen
Meltingly beautiful choral gems of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, including Lotti's Crucifixus for 8 voices and Scarlatti's Stabat Mater in 10 parts, make up the renowned vocal ensemble's morning offering of music from Italy and Portugal. Completely gorgeous stuff, seamlessly sung.
The Sixteen, Queen's Hall, Thu 15 Aug, 11am.

Eugene Onegin
One of only two fully staged operas in the EIF this year, Tchaikovsky's best loved opera, Eugene Onegin, brings Komische Oper Berlin and their brilliant Artistic Director Barrie Kosky back to Edinburgh following on from the success of their previous visit (with Magic Flute) in 2015. A heart-breaking love story with rising star Asmik Grigorian (except 16 Aug) in the central role of Tatyana.
Eugene Onegin, Festival Theatre, Thu 15, Fri 16, Sat 17 Aug, 7.15pm.

Sir James MacMillan at 60 / Scottish Chamber Orchestra
A special one-off series of five performances marking and celebrating the 60th birthday of extraordinary Scottish composer, Sir James MacMillan, whose music touches hearts and minds wherever in the world it is heard. His latest major piece, Symphony No 5, receives its world premiere from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, who combine forces with The Sixteen and youth chorus Genesis Sixteen under the baton of long-time MacMillan collaborator Harry Christophers. Entitled Le grand inconnu, the symphony is a meditation on the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Usher Hall, Sat 17 Aug, 8pm.

Classical music and opera picks at the 2019 Edinburgh International Festival

Eugene Onegin / credit: Iko Freese

Breaking the Waves
A moral story of extremes with the concept of goodness and what it is to be good at its centre, this new opera from American composer Missy Mazzoli and librettist Royce Vavrek is based on a film by Danish director Lars von Trier. In it, a young Scottish Highland bride and her new husband suffer a devastating blow when he has a completely debilitating accident. How they approach dealing with the consequences is somewhat unusual….
Breaking the Waves, King's Theatre, Wed 21, Fri 23, Sat 24 Aug, 7.15pm.

National Youth Orchestra of the USA
Everyone's favourite American mezzo-soprano, Joyce DiDonato, joins the cream of the USA's young instrumental talent with equally favourite Italian/English conductor, Sir Antonio Pappano, for the shimmering sultriness of Berlioz's magical Les nuits d'ete. Putting the orchestra further through its paces is Prokofiev's Symphony No 5, a piece that the composer himself described as one that 'sings the praises of a free and happy man.'
National Youth Orchestra of the USA, Usher Hall, Fri 9 Aug, 8pm.

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert
No Edinburgh Festival season would be complete without the Fireworks Concert to wrap it all up in a blaze of colour. This year's programme is a particularly dramatic one, giving lots of scope for heavenward pyrotechnics lighting up the capital's skies.
Virgin Money Fireworks Concert, Ross Theatre Bandstand, Mon 26 Aug, 9pm.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra

The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is recognised as one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world and tours extensively in Scotland as well as internationally.

The Sixteen

Lotti Crucifixus a 8 Melgás Popule meus — Improperia *Scarlatti * Iste Confessor *Melgás * Lamentações de Quinta-Feira Santa Melgás Salve Regina *Rebelo * Panis angelicus Caldara Crucifixus a 16 *Scarlatti * Stabat Mater a 10 With a repertoire spanning more than 500 years of music, The Sixteen under founding Director…

Dunedin Consort: Bach Cantatas

The Dunedin Consort presents two of Bach's secular cantatas.

Breaking the Waves

  • 4 stars

Breaking the Waves is a wrenching moral drama about a woman’s twisted bargain with God. Based on Lars von Trier’s controversial film, US composer Missy Mazzoli’s opera won the 2017 Best New Opera Award at the Music Critics Association of North America and was shortlisted the same year for an International Opera Award. In…


Following their spectacular Die Walküre in 2017, Sir Andrew Davis and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra reunite with a sensational international cast of soloists for the overwhelming power of Wagner’s greatest achievement. Human greed rules the world and the deceitful Hagen hatches a vengeful plot to exploit the…

Los Angeles Philharmonic 2

*Barber * Adagio John Adams Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes? (European Premiere) *Tchaikovsky * Symphony No 4 The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel bring us right up to date for the electrifying conclusion to their very special International Festival residency. The diabolical centrepiece of their final…

National Youth Orchestra of the USA

*Davis * Delicate Tension Berlioz Les nuits d’été Prokofiev Symphony No 5 Opening the concert is* Delicate Tension *by Tyson J. Davis, 18 years old and from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, one of two Apprentice Composers on the NYO USA Orchestra Roster this summer. Commissioned by the U.S. Embassy of Berlin in celebration…

Eugene Onegin

  • 5 stars

Eugene Onegin marks the return of Komische Oper Berlin and its Artistic Director Barrie Kosky to the International Festival after their spectacular The Magic Flute in 2015. Tchaikovsky’s best-loved opera features some of his most captivating music, its heartfelt melodies and choruses inspired by Russian folk music…

Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

The spectacular Virgin Money Fireworks Concert brings together unforgettable orchestral classics from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and fireworks specially choreographed by international pyrotechnics artists Pyrovision — all set against the magnificent backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. See the Orchestra up close from a seat…