Every January, Sydney Festival (January 9-26, www.sydneyfestival.org.au) enlivens and transforms Sydney (Australia) with a bold cultural celebration based on the highest quality art and big ideas. The program is kaleidoscopic in its diversity, from burlesque circus to New York rap to Russian theatre; from contemporary dance to family programs to traditional Indigenous arts practice. In all, the program comprises around 300 performances and around 100 events performed by over 1,000 artists in at least 20 venues each year. Inclusive programming, a broad range of free events and accessible pricing policies for the ticketed shows means that Sydney Festival is open to all, welcoming Sydneysiders and visitors from wherever they live. Tickets to all performances are available on the day for only $25 at the Tix for Next to Nix booth in Martin Place in the heart of Sydney’s CBD.
There’s also the famous free concerts in The Domain or Parramatta. Summer Sounds has featured the sounds of Brazil, Gypsies, New Orleans and Mali and is followed the next weekend by the orchestral power of the Sydney Symphony. Throughout January the Festival Garden is home to the Spiegeltent with a captivating program of burlesque and music which makes the most of the summer nights in the atmospheric setting of Hyde Park and Paradiso at Town Hall resonates with the energy of bands and DJs until late at night.
More than any other cultural event, Sydney Festival defines Sydney’s personality. For over three decades they have presented international artists who guarantee headlines, and whose presence in Sydney adds to the Festival’s buzz and prestige. Names like Björk, Brian Wilson, Grace Jones, Manu Chao, Elvis Costello, AR Rahman, Cate Blanchett, Ralph Fiennes, Robert Lepage, Peter Sellars and Sir Ian McKellen alongside some of the world’s great companies – Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance, Cheek by Jowl, Gate Theatre and the Schaubühne Berlin to name only a few – share the Festival with the most exciting artists and companies in Australia.
Sydney Festival’s audacious contemporary programming positions it at the forefront of arts practice in Australia and up there as one of the most wonderful festivals in the world. Sydney Festival relies on a mix of government funding; corporate, media and production partnerships; as well as philanthropic giving
Festival Director Lieven Bertels and the Sydney Festival team revealed the full program for Sydney Festival 2014, an explosion of exceptional theatre, dance, music, visual arts, film and more that will bring the harbour city to life from January 9-26.
Sydneysiders and visitors know Sydney Festival is one of the most wonderful summer festivals in the world – a claim underpinned by the city’s lustre and charisma, making it an ideal showcase for the world’s great artists.
The Sydney Festival 2014 is comprised of 104 events, a staggering 21 of which are free. With 372 performances across 33 indoor and outdoor venues, Sydney Festival 2014 features 722 artists from 80 companies across 17 countries. With 10 world premieres, 4 Australian premieres and 13 Australian exclusives, summer in our beautiful city is absolutely not to be missed.
“If you are really into your arts, Sydney Festival will not disappoint, with opera, dance, theatre and music acts from across Australia and the world.” says Festival Director, Lieven Bertels.
Against a backdrop of some of the world’s greatest theatre and dance, new Australian works of magnitude and cultural importance dominate this year’s theatre program. The world premiere of Black Diggers (directed by Wesley Enoch and written by Tom Wright) unfolds the untold stories of 1000 Indigenous soldiers who fought in World War One, whilst Michael Kantor and Tom E. Lewis’ indigenous re-working of King Lear in The Shadow King has recently premiered to a rousing reception by audiences in Melbourne, Australia.
Internationally acclaimed choreographer Shaun Parker returns to the Sydney Festival with the world premiere of Am I, whilst Halina Reijn performs the lead role in the retelling of the 1927 monologue by Jean Cocteau in the voyeuristic La Voix Humaine. Philip Glass presents a live score to Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors to follow its premiere at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and after a five month sell out season on London’s Southbank LIMBO returns to heat up the 1920s Speigeltent in the wildly expanded Festival Village.
A main highlight of the 2014 program is Henry Purcell’s great romantic tragedy Dido & Aeneas in Sasha Waltz’s wondrous reimagining of the great opera, featuring stunning choreography, a prologue performed in a giant fish tank underwater, and celebrated baroque orchestra Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin. Reigning queen of contemporary German dance-theatre, Sasha Waltz, stages a radical re-telling of Henry Purcell’s Baroque masterpiece, Dido & Aeneas. The oldest love story in English opera, this tragic tale of unrequited love is brought to life by sixty exceptional dancers, singers and musicians at the Sydney Lyric from 16 to 21 January 2014. Dido & Aeneas is set to be as big an operatic sensation in the 2014 Sydney Festival as Semele Walk was in 2013.
Waltz casts both a dancer and singer in each role and tells the story of Dido, Queen of Carthage, who reluctantly falls in love with the shipwrecked Aeneas. Later, Dido is brutally rejected when he is deceived into leaving her, and she takes her own life.
As it’s the sea that brings Aeneas to Dido and takes him away again, it is not surprising that Waltz uses water as a central motif in her realisation of the myth. Waltz opens the show in a visually arresting fashion – an aquatic prologue, where a giant water tank, almost spanning the entire width of the stage, is raised several metres off the floor. From a ladder, dancers climb to the top of the tank to gaze and point at the audience, and then plunge in ducking, diving and weaving their steps, staying submerged for impossibly long times. Continue reading