Oedipus Rex kicks off the Bergen International Festival

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May 25, 2011

With a tenor who learnt the title role of an opera over a weekend and a chilly outdoor opening ceremony, the 2011 Bergen International Festival is off!

With more than 150 events over 15 days in and around the city centre, the Bergen International Festival is the biggest of its kind in the Nordic countries.

After an outdoor opening ceremony in the city square in the presence of their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway, the Festival continues with the opening performance of the opera-oratorium Oedipus Rex by Igor Stravinsky.

The past week has been a dramatic one for the production: One week before the premiere, Andreas Conrad fell ill and had to withdraw from his part as Oedipus. After a few nerve-wracking days, a new tenor was found in Gordon Gietz. There was only one problem: He hadn’t sung the role of Oedipus before. But by rehearsing every minute since, Mr. Gietz sang through the entire opera on his first full rehearsal with the orchestra and choir, and looks set to impress both audiences and critics.

Other highlights this year include Christoph Marthaler’s ±0, a production which was created on Greenland this spring and has received excellent reviews in German-language newspapers.

This year’s music programme consists of concerts by well-known names such as Evgeny Kissin, Andreas Scholl, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Phantasm and Khatia Buniatishvili. In addition, the festival has invited a ‘supergroup’ of string players in connection with the new project ‘The Flame of Ole Bull’, which includes more than twenty concerts, discussions and master classes. Among others, Bergen will be visited by Ida Haendel (82), a legend in the world of music, and Norway’s most prominent string players, including Vilde Frang and Truls Mørk. The public will also have a chance to get acquainted with up-and-coming young musicians in connection with a Nordic soloist competition.

‘I am really proud of this year’s programme. We have succeeded in bringing many of the most sought-after musicians in the classical tradition to Bergen and the programme also includes new, interesting and exciting theatrical productions. We will also be making completely new use of some of the city’s most distinctive venues,’ says Festival Director Per Boye Hansen.

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