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Adelaide Festival has today announced an exclusive partnership to co-produce and co-commission major operatic productions with one of the world’s greatest festivals, Festival International d'Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence over a three year period. The historic agreement includes the two festivals collaborating on a range of initiatives for emerging South Australian artists and musicians as well as opportunities for both French and Australian arts workers across the industry.

The co-produced productions, featuring the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and supported by the Adelaide Festival Centre, will appear as centrepiece works within the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Adelaide Festivals, cementing the centrality of opera within the future vision for the Festival. This comes on the back of the stunning successes achieved by the Adelaide Festival with the Glyndebourne Festival Opera productions of Saul in 2017 and Hamlet in 2018, and the Komische Oper Berlin production of The Magic Flute which concluded its triumphant, sold-out Adelaide Festival season on Sunday.

The agreement will also open the doors to opportunities for Australian artists to participate in the programmed productions as well as opportunities for emerging South Australian musicians to be part of the renowned Academie du Festival d’Aix from 2020 – 2022. The Academy is a centre of excellence for vocal and instrumental training, a platform for reflecting, experimenting and creating opera and innovative forms, and a place that caters for the professional development of young artists.

Chair of the Adelaide Festival Judy Potter said, “This is both an artistic coup and a major strategic step for the Adelaide Festival. While individual programming choices will always be made by our Artistic Directors, we have recently affirmed that the presentation of the art-form of opera within the Festival is central to our long-term vision. Our partnership with Aix-en-Provence is a wonderful expression of that vision and also testament to Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield’s inspiration in bringing opera back into the heart of the Festival. Opera is here to stay.”

Adelaide Festival’s Joint Artistic Director Rachel Healy said, “Neil Armfield and I are absolutely thrilled about embarking on this creative collaboration with Aix-en-Provence, one of the greatest Festivals in the world. The pact between our two Festivals effectively ensures that opera of the highest international standards will continue as a centerpiece of the Adelaide Festival well into the future.

“As well as co-commissions of opera and opportunities for Australian artists, there will also be potential for secondments and internships for both French and Australian arts workers in all fields – production, marketing, development, artistic administration,” Healy said.

Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall said, “This is a huge step forward in the already strong relationship between France and South Australia. It celebrates our deep cultural and business ties and it further cements Adelaide’s position as a UNESCO City of Music.”

“I am delighted that a partnership like this not only provides outstanding artistic opportunity but also the potential for new business opportunities for the Adelaide Festival - a win-win for South Australia,” he said.

Ambassador of France to Australia His Excellency Christophe Penot who joined the Premier in launching the initiative said: “This partnership is a historical milestone for the French Australian relationship. From 2020, the Adelaide Festival and the Festival d’art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence, two of the most culturally innovative events, will join forces to produce the very best of contemporary Opera productions. This partnership will help French-Australian cultural initiatives shine far beyond the city of Adelaide and the artistic field of Opera. It is a remarkable example of what our two countries can achieve together.”

Noted for its adventurousness and the extraordinary quality of the artists it attracts, the Festival International d'Art Lyrique D’Aix-En-Provence is one of the most prestigious festivals worldwide, commissioning a series of new opera productions every year in collaboration with the world’s foremost opera houses including the English National Opera, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and The Vienna Staatsoper. In 2017, 13 of its productions were seen in 16 cities around the world.

Artistic Director of the Festival International d'Art Lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence Pierre Audi said: “We met Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield two years ago and knew our festivals were born to collaborate. We share the same values of creativity and innovation, search for artistic excellence, international outlook and ambition to transmit our work to the new generation. They showed great interest in my vision as well as the projects I hoped to generate, but more broadly in the unique identity of the Aix Festival and its commitment to education and participation. As well as developing ideas together for co-productions, it became clear that we could also share more than productions. Our teams have welcomed this partnership with enthusiasm and each encounter confirmed a unity of vision between the two historic festivals: training of young professional artists through the 20-year old world famous Aix Academy, audience development, educational activities and outreach programs organised in Aix under the umbrella of the program Passerelles.

Pierre Audi continued, “We are honoured to have been chosen as the main partner of the Adelaide Festival.  This partnership is a first for the Aix Festival and one which will enrich its output and its international aura. We are looking forward to forging this new unique bond across two continents in the field of the contemporary performing arts."

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