Theatre, music and dance highlights from the 2011 Edinburgh International Festival
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Semiramide and King Lear among picks
This article is from 2011.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
The Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) has been a benchmark for quality and innovation in the performing arts since its inauguration nearly 65 years ago. This year artistic director Jonathan Mills builds his programme around the multi-faceted cultures of the Far East, with opera, dance, theatre and classical music from China, India, Japan, Indonesia, Korea and Vietnam. A particular highlight of the theatre programme is Stephen Earnhart and Greg Pierce's adaptation of Haruki Murakami's bestseller, which follows an unassuming everyman on a quest that traverses the boundaries between reality and dreams.
King's Theatre, Leven Street, 0131 473 2000, 20–24 Aug, 7.30pm; 21 Aug, 2.30pm, £10–£30.
The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan
Those who show up to performances in the Festival's opera programme know what to expect. Ever since Monteverdi, the template for operatic performance in the west has been pretty much set. In the east, however, the marriage of music, theatre and dance has taken its own course. Audiences will require a healthy dose of readjustment to appreciate the Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe and this Chinese translation of Shakespeare's Hamlet relocated from Denmark to the fictional Realm of the Red City, complete with acrobatics and martial arts.
Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 19 & 20 Aug, 8pm; 21 Aug, 3pm, Edinburgh, £10–£35.
The Peony Pavilion
Tang Xianzu died in the same year as Shakespeare, but whereas the latter's Romeo and Juliet ends with the death of the young lovers, Xianzu's The Peony Pavilion is about the eternal love that happens after death. The National Ballet of China, complete with its own orchestra, re-enacts the romance in lavish style.
Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 13–15 Aug, 7.30pm, £12–£44.
Rossini's great opera – over four hours of it – is staged in spectacular style by Vlaamse Opera. British director and designer Nigel Lowery evokes Baghdad during the fall of Saddam Hussein as he tells the story of Queen Semiramide's tyrannous rule over Babylon, incestuous lover and all. Alberto Zedda conducts.
Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, 25 & 27 Aug, 6pm, £16–£68.
The Indian sitar player was already a major figure when he was championed by George Harrison and The Beatles in the mid-1960s and he remains, to quote Harrison, the 'Godfather of world music'. Here he is in meditative mode, performing the evening ragas associated with traditional ceremonies.
Usher Hall, Lothian Road, 22 Aug, 8pm, £12–£34.
The east-west theme of the EIF provides plenty to talk about, hence this series of a dozen discussions programmed in association with the British Council. Considering politics, religion and philosophy as much as art, they are designed to provoke debate about a rapidly changing world as the old centres of power and wealth move east.
The Hub, Castlehill, 13 Aug–2 Sep (selected days), 2.30pm, £6.
Taiwanese performer Wu Hsing-kuo takes Shakespeare's great tragedy about an old king who loses his family and his sanity and uses it as a jumping-off point for a meditation on his own life as an actor. Doing the whole thing single-handedly, he removes his wig, beard and costume to ask existential questions of himself.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Grindlay Street, 13–16 Aug, 8pm, £10–£30.
Drawing on the traditional Korean music known as pansori, this colourful piece of dance theatre tells the archetypal tale of a baby cast into the sea by her father only to be rescued and to grow up into the one woman who can save him. Choreographer Eun-Me Ahn was also responsible for the opening ceremony of the football world cup in South Korea.
Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, 19–21 Aug, 7.30pm, £10–£30.