A highly eventful 2018 season for Aix en Provence as this year the most famous French Festival celebrates its 70th anniversary. It has never been so imperative to reserve places in advance, especially as many productions are eagerly awaited.
Mozart is, and has always been, the great composer of the Lyric Art Festival of Aix en Provence. What a great idea to reprise the production of Die Zauberflöte by Simon McBurney which received much appraisal in 2014. However, the greatest attention probably goes to the musical direction of the talented Raphaël Pichon. This young leader has won over all audiences and in just a few seasons has become one of today’s top conductors. His flexible and theatrical direction is simply beautiful. Great moment in view in Aix especially with the Tamino of Stanislas de Barbeyrac and Mari Eriksmoen in Pamina. Other superb singers complete this young high-performance cast at the Grand Théâtre de Provence.
Next, the 70th edition of the Aix Festival offers nothing but new productions. At the Théâtre de l’Archevêché, Richard Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos is a real highlight. The staging was entrusted to the huge director of actors, Katie Mitchell. After the great successes here with Written on Skin, Pelléas and Mélisande or Alcina, Strauss’ opera between comedy and theater is a perfect new challenge for the grande dame. The Aix Festival gives her a perfect set with Lise Davidsen who was part of the Academy in the role of Primadonna. Music lovers will be quick to buy their place for Sabine Devieilhe, who plays her first Zerbinetta, a golden role for the divine soprano who flies from success to success. One can only admire the casts of the Festival d’Aix which, as a Festival should, always the audience to discover voices already known elsewhere as Angela Brower, regularly invited to the Bayerisches Staatsoper, Glyndebourne or the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Marc Albrecht conducts the perfect Orchestra of Paris that returns to the Provence. Purcell’s masterpiece, Dido and Aeneas, has been entrusted to the Pygmalion ensemble. Usually led by its chief conductor Raphael Pichon, this time it is Václav Luks who holds the baton. The Czech conductor is a great specialist of the Baroque repertoire. The young director Vincent Huguet knows Aix-en-Provence well since he was the assistant of Patrice Chéreau on the legendary production of Elektra. And for those who do not know her yet, the great voice of Kelebogile Pearl Besong in the role of Queen of Carthage will be a revelation.
The Grand Théâtre de Provence will be consumed by Prokofiev. The Fiery Angel is his masterpiece with the Love for Three Oranges. It is not often produced in France, so we must rush to Aix to see this new production especially led by Kazushi Ono, the great opera master.
The Festival is also a famous place of creation. Seven Stones by Ondrej Adámek will finally see the light of day, the premiere having been postponed to this year 2018. Music lovers from all over the world have an appointment in Aix every season but especially this year because with the symphonic concerts, the 70th edition simply is a compulsory event.