Page last updated at 10:06 GMT, Wednesday, 17 March 2010

'New world' theme for Edinburgh International Festival

PorgyAndBess_copyright Stofleth (1)
George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess is updated by Opera de Lyon and the hip-hop and contemporary dance Compagnie Montalvo-Hervieu

The modern-day culture of the "new world" will be explored in this year's Edinburgh International Festival.

Director Jonathan Mills said it would be a journey of discovery through the diverse contemporary cultures of the Americas and Australasia.

The festival will open on 13 August with John Adams's nativity oratorio El Nino.

It will end on 5 September with a fireworks concert which will celebrate the music of the movies.

During its three-week run artists from across the USA, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and Argentina will perform.

There will also be performers from Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.

This year the festival takes us on a journey around the contemporary cultures of the Americas and Australasia
Jonathan Mills
Festival director

World premieres will include Caledonia, which explores Scotland's disastrous attempt to turn itself into a colonial power by establishing a colony at Darien in Panama at the end of the 17th Century.

It is by Scottish political writer Alistair Beaton, whose previous work includes TV drama A Very Social Secretary - about David Blunkett's affairs while at the Home Office.

The flamenco dance work Quimeras will also have its first performance.

And Peter Carey's 1981 novel Bliss will be the inspiration for a new Australian opera to be performed for the first time in Europe, by Opera Australia.

American composer George Gershwin's Depression era opera Porgy and Bess has been updated in a multi-media production which will include a hip-hop and contemporary dance company.

Gospel music group The Blind Boys of Alabama are to make their festival debut, as are the Abyssinian Chancel Choir from Harlem.

'Complex continents'

From South America, Teatro Cinema and Teatro en el Blanco will offer audiences a glimpse of cinematic theatre from Chile.

There is also an extensive programme of classical music concerts and dance.

The Edinburgh International Festival began in 1947 as "a platform for the flowering of the human spirit".

All artists and companies appear at the invitation of the festival director, a major contrast with the Edinburgh Fringe, which also takes place in August.

Launching his fourth programme as festival director, Mr Mills said: "This year the festival takes us on a journey around the contemporary cultures of the Americas and Australasia.

"We have shifted our centre of gravity from Europe towards these intriguing and complex continents."

Public booking for tickets opens on Saturday 27 March.

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