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The 1978 Adelaide Festival was held from Saturday, February 25 to Sunday, March 19, led by Artistic Director Anthony Steel.

Steel’s third festival featured the English composer Sir Michael Tippett’s first opera The Midsummer Marriage, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under Zubin Mehta and Roger Woodward’s incredible series of Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas performed in 12 days.

Other highlights included young soprano Leona Mitchell, Adelaide singer Robyn Archer and the much-loved Compagnie Philippe Genty and Kabuki Theatre.

The controversial production East by Steven Berkoff about two unpleasant bovver-boy characters Les and Mike caused a stir with the opposition party of the day, the Liberals, calling for the play to be barred and Steel to be sacked. The Premier and the Adelaide Festival Board refused and the season was extended due to public interest.

Prominent authors at Writers' Week included Australian's Manning Clark, Barry Humphries and Frank Moorhouse, American writer Chaim Potok and Irish poet Richard Murphy.