Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Foccroulle wants an opera from George Benjamin

Aix-en-Provence Festival's New Boss Aims to Create Opera 'Hub'

By Farah Nayeri
From - March 26, 2006 18:33 EST

Bernard Foccroulle, the 52-year-old Belgian recently named to head France's Aix-en-Provence opera festival, said he wants Aix to have international appeal and focus on Mozart as well as on baroque and contemporary music.
``I would like the Aix festival to be a global opera hub,'' Foccroulle, who for 14 years ran Brussels's La Monnaie/De Munt opera house, said in a telephone interview. ``Festivals have helped the world of opera evolve, and they must reach beyond the place where they are held.''
Foccroulle, an organist and composer by training, succeeds Stephane Lissner, who last year took over Milan's La Scala opera. Lissner oversaw the programming of the 2006 Aix festival, which runs from July 2 to 22 and opens with Wagner's ``Das Rheingold,'' conducted by Simon Rattle and staged by Stephane Braunschweig.
Next year, Aix will inaugurate its new 1,400-seat theater with a performance of Wagner's ``Die Walkure,'' again conducted by Rattle and staged by Braunschweig, Foccroulle said. Also on the schedule is Mozart's ``The Marriage of Figaro,'' with Daniel Harding conducting, he said. Two-thirds of the 2007 program has already been set, he added.
Aix-en-Provence, together with the Glyndebourne and Salzburg festivals, has helped make Mozart's operas better known and it must retain that role, Foccroulle said. The new director said he also seeks to broaden the repertoire with baroque and 20th-century works as well as new compositions.
Asked to elaborate, Foccroulle said he hoped to program works by Rameau, which he never got a chance to do in Brussels, and commission an opera by the contemporary composer George Benjamin.
Partnerships with opera houses are also high on his agenda. Foccroulle said he had received an invitation from Tokyo's Bunkamura arts complex to stage Mozart's ``The Marriage of Figaro'' there in 2008.

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