March 22, 2006

Edinburgh festival: round the world in three weeks

By Ian MacKenzie

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - The Edinburgh International Festival
unveiled its 2006 program on Wednesday including a topical
Shakespearean play on political corruption along with theater,
music and dance offerings from around the world.

The festival, a premier arts extravaganza running from
August 13 to September 3, will also provide all nine of
Beethoven's symphonies in sequence conducted by Sir Charles
Mackerras, and the nine Bruckner symphonies.

German-born Peter Stein, who now lives in Italy, will
direct Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, described in the
program as a forceful attack by the Bard on "politics,
brutality, vanity, war and double standards."

The international festival runs in parallel with the
Edinburgh Fringe which showcases off-beat comedy and quirky

Brian McMaster, who ends 15 years of running the Edinburgh
international festival this year, said staging Troilus and
Cressida with its political overtones, was "coincidental" to
the current row in Britain over accusations of government sales
of honors for political funds and the divisive effect of the
war in Iraq.

Taking over from McMaster in October is Australian musician
and festival organizer Jonathan Mills.

McMaster said that for years he had wanted Stein to do a
Shakespearean production for the festival with the original

"It is sort of coincidence," McMaster told Reuters. "But I
think that in some respect, for any human being, any
Shakespeare play will have that sort of coincidence, that
nuance about fundamental things that affect us, either in the
world or inside our heads."

Some critics said the problem with this year's festival is
that it offers too much within too limited a time frame.

McMaster said his aim was "to put on a series of world
class events that have a wide appeal." Seats for the Beethoven
and Bruckner concerts, for example, are selling at 10 pounds

The international festival opens with Richard Strauss's
opera Elektra, starring Jeanne-Michele Charbonne in the title
role and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by
Edward Gardner.

It concludes with Mozart's Magic Flute.

Offerings from the United States include the British
premiere of George Balanchine's Don Quixote, by the Suzanne
Farrell Ballet of Washington, an American Repertory Theater
production of Anton Chekhov's Three Sisters, with Polish
director Krystian Lupa, and the orchestra of St. Luke's from
New York playing Mozart.

General bookings open on April 8, with on-line booking at