Marco Polo to open the 2013 Bergen International Festival

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February 17, 2013

The young director, designer and video artist Netia Jones takes the lead when festival director Anders Beyer opens his first Bergen International Festival with Tan Dun’s opera Marco Polo in May 2013.

Netia Jones is known for creating opera performances and concerts with integrated video production, and thinks that Marco Polo is perfect for a her multi-media approach.

‘As an ‘opera within an opera’, bringing together infinitely disparate cultural influences, Marco Polo is a work that could only have been created by Tan Dun. Tracing a spiritual, physical and musical journey this many-layered work offers up incredibly rich material for a highly visual performance integrating live film and projection. It is an exhilarating project to be involved with, and I hope that live and integrated visuals can respond to and reflect the myriad worlds encapsulated in Tan Dun’s imaginative landscape,’ says Netia Jones.

Marco Polo’s legendary journey from Italy to China is the inspiration for Tan Dun’s opera. A multitude of languages, cultures and eras are woven together in a journey containing Beijing opera, Japanese kabuki theatre, Indonesian shadow theatre and Tibetan rituals. As we travel geographically through the performance, we also move within an inner landscape in which we converse with such celebrated personalities as Dante, Shakespeare and Li Po.

The works of the Chinese composer Tan Dun, who is based in both New York and Shanghai, span the boundaries between eastern and western tradition and between classical music and multimedia performance. Tan Dun has received some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including a Grammy and an Academy Award for the musical score of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.– As a director and designer, working always with projection and film, my intention with any project is that the visual material and the live performers are as one – the visual world performs like an instrument, completely integrated into the live musical performance. Here water, air, paper, ink, history, geography, letters, ideas, figures and traditions collide, encouraging a visual richness which will draw on Western, Eastern and purely abstract imagery, says director Netia Jones, who has been described as ‘the most imaginative director of opera working in Britain today’ by the UK newspaper The Observer.

– It is a great pleasure to be developing this unique project with the Bergen International Festival and the Bergen National Opera, and to be preparing such a work, which conjures up Rustichello da Pisa, Sheherezade, Dante, Shakespeare, Li Po and Mahler in one breath. Working across several media as I do, exploring new ways of presentation, this is an exciting prospect, says Netia Jones.

Baldur Brönnimann will be conducting an outstanding team of international soloists supported by Bergen’s new professional ensemble KorVest and the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra in this version of Marco Polo. The cast includes Thomas Young, Fredrika Brillembourg, Dong-Jian Gong, Nancy Allen Lundy and Zhang Jun. Anders Beyer took over as director of the Bergen International Festival in August 2012, and will present his first festival in Bergen in May 2013. The Bergen International Festival, which takes place in Bergen, Norway every year, is the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries, and presents music theatre, dance, opera and visual art.

Bergen National Opera is based in Norway’s second city, and combines leading international and Scandinavian artists in a wide range of productions and innovative projects.

Marco Polo is produced by Bergen National Opera.

Marco Polo is presented by Bergen International Festival and Bergen National Opera, in collaboration with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and KorVest.

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