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Handel dominates at Edinburgh Festival

The Edinburgh International Festival has just announced its 2009 programme and, as always, major opera productions feature prominently.

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Handel, whose 250th anniversary is marked this year, is well-represented. Director Doris Dorrie and conductor Nicholas McGegan collaborate on a production of the composer’s little-known Admeto, Re di Tessaglia, giving the work a Japanese twist.

There are performances of Handel’s Rinaldo, under Masaki Suzuki’s baton, and Mendelssohn’s version of Acis and Galatea (two birds with one stone there, as the latter composer also has an anniversary this year).

The opening concert will be Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabeus, with William Christie leading a star cast of Rosemary Joshua and Sarah Connolly. Purcell, another of this year’s big celebrants, is recognised with a concert performance of The Fairy Queen by Harry Christophers and The Sixteen. Martinu’s 50th anniversary is not marked by any opera performances.

Other operas are Verdi’s Macbeth in concert with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and a Simone Young-conducted Der fliegende Holländer. Opera singers, musicians and life-sized puppets will come together for a performance of Monteverdi’s Il Ritorno d’Ulisse, under the direction, animation and design of William Kentridge.

St Kilda (Island of the Birdmen) will be a staged production performed in Gaelic, French and English, and combining film and live action.

Full details of these performances, and everything else in the International Festival, can be found at www.eif.co.uk

- Simon Thomas


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