The world-famous Edinburgh International Festival has announced details of its summer 2008 season, which will feature performances by the Mariinsky and Scottish Opera companies, concerts with Karita Mattila and Dmitri Hvorostovsky and the usual range of ballet and theatre events.
The theme of this year's festival is the nature of contemporary Europe, exploring how borders have been moved in the fifty-one years since the annual event was established. There's a particular focus, musically, on Eastern Europe and Russia. The Mariinsky Opera will bring a staged version of Szymanowski's King Roger, a concert double bill of Rachmaninov's Aleko and Prokofiev's Semyon Kotko, and a concert performance of Shchedrin's The Enchanted Wanderer. The latter will be receiving its UK premiere. All the Kirov's performances are conducted by Valery Gergiev, who will also appear in three concerts with the London Symphony Orchestra featuring the complete symphonies of Prokofiev.
There are only five staged opera performances this year. In addition to the two performances of the Szymanowski by the Mariinsky, Scottish Opera will make a welcome return to the festival (after funding had caused problems and prevented their appearance last year) in three performances of Smetana's The Two Widows. Francesco Corti, the company's new Music Director, will conduct a cast including Kate Valentine and Jane Irwin. Other than that, opera is restricted to the opening-night gala of Kurt Weill's The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny conducted by HK Gruber.
However, there is solace in the form of appearances by leading singers in concerts. Karita Mattila will sing Jenufa's Prayer and Tatyana's Letter Scene from Eugene Onegin in a concert with the Finnish Radio Symphony, while Dmitri Hvorostovsky will continue the overarching theme of the festival with a recital of Russian songs. Emmanuelle Haim will conduct a performance of Handel's Israel in Egypt, Anne Sophie von Otter will sing French arias with Les Arts Florissants and John Eliot Gardiner will lead a performance of the Brahms German Requiem, while other recitalists include Susan Bullock, Christiane Oelze and Christine Schäfer.
Dance afficionados will probably be happier with the programme than opera buffs, for the offerings include a Mixed Bill and Giselle from the State Ballet of Georgia, the UK premiere of Steve Reich Evening, and the world premiere of Matthew Bourne's Dorian Gray.
Other concerts include Gustavo Dudamel and the Gothenburg Symphony, two recitals by Gabriela Montero, Alfred Brendel in recital and with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Charles Mackerras, Tippett's anti-war oratorio A Child of Our Time with John Tomlinson and Nicole Cabell, and two concerts from the Staatskapelle Dresden under Fabio Luisi.
See also our preview of the Royal Opera, Covent Garden's 2008-09 season here.
See also our preview of the Opera national de Paris' 2008-09 season here.
Plus our preview of the Barbican's Great Performers 2008-09 season here.
And read our preview of the London Philharmonic's 2008-09 season here.
Also see details of Welsh National Opera's 2008-09 season here.