– An abundance of artistic expressions from a great variety of countries is one of the characteristics of Bergen International Festival. The festival is a declaration of love for the city and for the world, said former Oslo bishop Gunnar Stålsett in his Festival Speech.
The 3000 people in the audience were joined by Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg, other politicians and representatives from the business sector for an hour of speeches, music and dance. The Opening Ceremony took its cue from the Festival programme, which focuses on the theme of love, and the audience could experience song and dance from the Pacific islands, erotic poems and romantic songs by several Norwegian artists and much more.
Human decency and debates
– The opening of Bergen International Festival is located at Torgallmenningen square. This can be seen as a metaphorical manifesto. The square is the common room in a society, an open space with room for a multitude of destinies and life stories. This is where the bubbles of politics, culture and different views on life burst. On many squares around the world there is a daily struggle for human rights, freedom and democracy – and there are both victories and losses. Today, as religious and national
extremism are on the rise in an number of regions all over the world, the square represents the protests and the hope, Stålsett said in his speech, where he emphasized the importance of love’s two close relations, charity and tolerance.
PM Erna Solberg also pointed out how the Festival creates new perspectives on society’s challenges through art and public debates.
– This year the Festival examines religious criticism and freedom of speech in its events, and shows itself as a key institution in society in areas beyond the arts, she said.
The festival takes place from 27 May to 10 June this year. Among its 150 concerts and performances are 11 world premieres and 13 premieres of new works of music. The festival makes use of 20 different venues in and around Bergen city centre, including the homes of Edvard Grieg and Ole Bull.
Tradition and Innovation
The classical music programme includes Les Arts Florissants, Anne Sofie von Otter, The Borodin Quartet and some of Europe's greatest countertenors, including Franco Fagioli. They take to the stage in a concert version of the renaissance opera Catone in Utica by Leonardo Vinci. Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes presents four concerts featuring young, Norwegian string talents. From Paraguay comes Cateura – The Recycled Orchestra, who will play together with Norwegian music school students.
Within the performing arts programme the festival present Rimini Protokoll’s Home visit: Europe, the world premiere of Adam and Eve – a Divine Comedy and Electronica duo Röyksopp make their stage debut with absurd Kafka comedy, Kafka feat. Röyksopp. International theatre triumphs such as King Size by Christoph Marthaler, Hotel Paradiso by German Familie Flöz, and Mies Julie by Yäel Farber are performed at Den Nationale Scene.
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra celebrates its 250th anniversary with the opening concert Porgy & Bess in Andrew Litton's version and the concert Nordic prism . In the latter they perform Grieg's Concerto in A Minor and a commissioned work by Danish composer Per Nørgård. Later that night, these performances will be transmitted though headphones and staged with lights, dancers and video on the lake in the city centre. The Bergen International Festival offers a large outdoor programme. Free concerts and family activities are held in the pleasant urban spaces in Bergen, and in more rural settings, including the seven mountains that surround the city.