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Barely the curtain drawn, Avignon and Aix are thinking about their 2024 edition

The Comédie-Française was in Aix this summer with The Threepenny Opera; it will be next year at the Avignon festival.

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Barely the curtain drawn, Avignon and Aix are thinking about their 2024 edition

The Comédie-Française was in Aix this summer with The Threepenny Opera; it will be next year at the Avignon festival. After Les Damnés dans la cour d’honneur in 2016, she will present Hecuba by Euripides in a staging by Tiago Rodriguès. One certainty: the show will not be given in the main courtyard. Tiago Rodriguès has already staged a play there, La Cerisaie, and the Comédie-Française has already performed there. In the spirit of Rodriguès, director of the Avignon festival, the main courtyard is such a rare and difficult place that you only come across it in exceptional cases. Éric Ruf had asked the Portuguese director which play he would like to put on for the Frenchman. He had chosen Hecuba, then had been appointed head of the festival. It is therefore there that the piece will be created, before being revived in the Salle Richelieu. Hecuba, wife of Priam, sees her husband and sons killed during the Trojan War. She is reduced to slavery with her daughters Cassandre and Polyxène. Her wrath as a wife and mother radiates tragedy. Elsa Lepoivre will hold the title role.

Rodrigues revealed other elements on the 2024 edition of the Avignon festival. Caroline Guiela N’Guyen, new director of the TNS, will give Lacrima, her first creation for Strasbourg (at the TNS from May 14 to 18). The author and director tells in the form of a choral story, thirty men and women from a Parisian sewing and lace workshop in Alençon confronted with an extraordinary and secret order from a haute couture house. Marta Gornicka, director, author and singer from Poland, will stage Mothers, a song for Wartime, which was read on July 23 in the courtyard of the Calvet museum. In the arenas, cultural centers or castle courtyards, schools in the region, the Argentinian director Mariano Pensotti will play a traveling show during the festival.

After English this year, Spanish will be the guest language. Hence the companies of a Hispanic and South American theater. Like, to honor the English language, Gwenaël Morin presented his enjoyable and raw version of A Midsummer Night's Dream this summer, with five extraordinary actors who metamorphose from one role to another, in the garden of rue Mons. He will give in the same place, a show of the Spanish repertoire. Other information: the Boulbon quarry, reopened this year with the picturesque Jardin des Délices by Philippe Quesne, will once again be occupied. Rodrigues rightly considers it a magical place for the festival. However, its use remains very expensive: in addition to the cost of servicing, it requires the hiring at the festival's expense of a firefighting service -tank truck included- in the Montagnette. Paradoxically, the pine-covered hill is much better protected during the festival than outside.

Olympic Games oblige, the Avignon festival will be brought forward: it will take place from June 29 to July 21, while that of Aix, which does not require the same commitment from the police, keeps its dates. In Avignon, the courtyard of the Saint-Joseph high school and other schools where the festival sets up its stages will remain open. Pupils who take their baccalaureate there can look out the window if they are lacking in inspiration. Because the 77th Avignon festival cannot shrink in duration for lack of starting its ticketing revenue.

At the end of July, the two festival institutions are showing off with record attendance figures. The Aix Festival, with six new stage productions including two world premieres, three operas in concert version, fifteen concerts, seven guest orchestras, four guest choirs, 57 curtain raisers in 10 venues welcomed 75,000 spectators, including 3,650 tickets sold to those under thirty (double that of 2022). "A record attendance level of over 90%," says the festival. And yet, Aix displayed a rather atypical program for a lyric art festival. In the courtyard of the Archdiocese, L’Opéra de Quat’sous carried out in a spirited and canaille way by the actors of the Frenchman and the eight musicians of the ensemble Le Balcon, in the earthy translation by Alexandre Pateau, could just as well have been given in Avignon. At the Vitrolles Stadium, Stravinsky's ballets by the Orchester de Paris, masterfully conducted by Klaus Mäkelä, were stage performances, not lyrical ones. From operas stricto sensu, the edition included a landmark Wozzeck, a contested Cosi as well as Picture a day like this creation by George Benjamin, pretty and short as a tale. This shows that the originality of the Aix festival, programmed by Pierre Audi, knows how to captivate a local and international audience.

In Avignon, the edition ends with an attendance of 94%, i.e. 114,600 tickets sold, 45 show projects including 15 in connection with the guest English language and 258 performances. The cicadas have a bright future ahead of them.

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