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Zurich dishes up classical-arts feast

Bernard Haitink will be conducting in Zurich Keystone

The ninth annual Zurich Festival, which runs until July 10, offers a unique combination of opera, concerts, theatre, ballet and art exhibitions, organisers say.

Highlights will be shown on huge outdoor screens for free public viewing.

According to festival organiser Matthias von Bauszern, about 70,000 visitors are expected over the three-week period.

“The Zurich Festival is unique in offering a combination of so many different art forms,” von Bauszern told swissinfo. “Most festivals tend to specialise, focusing, for example, only on music.”

Launched by four major Zurich cultural institutions, plus three theatres, the festival’s abundance of classical works includes productions created specifically for the event.

Attendance has climbed steadily since the festival began, says von Bauszern.

For the first time ever, Anton Brückner’s symphonies numbers 0 to 9 will be performed, one after the other, by four different orchestras, for the Tonhalle concert programme.

Participating are the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich, the Zurich Opera Orchestra, the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées, conducted by Chailly, Blomstedt, Haitink, Herreweghe and Skrowaczewski.

At the opera house an audience favourite, La Bohème by Puccini, will have its festival première, followed by the first performance of Der Herr Nordwind by H K Gruber.

Other productions, including Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and the modern play Dybbuk, will have their Swiss premières at the festival.

Ballet lovers can enjoy four different works at the opera house.

A Canadian musical, The Far Side of the Moon, directed by Robert Lepage, will be playing at the Schauspielhaus.

Exhibitions of works by Giacometti, Cartier-Bresson, Polke and Claesz will be featured at the Kunsthaus museum.

Free events

For low- and no-budget art lovers, the festival will erect huge screens at the Münsterhof, an outdoor plaza in central Zurich, on July 1, 2, and 3, so the public can enjoy opera and musical performances at absolutely no cost.

“For the first time ever,” said von Bauszern, “the open-air screenings in Zurich will be broadcast in high definition, a technology that offers clearer and sharper pictures.”

La Bohème takes place on July 3 at 7pm, and its high-definition broadcast at the Münsterhof will be aired shortly thereafter, at 9.30pm.

International Opera Studio artists will also be performing outside at the Zentralhof, close to the Paradeplatz in the city centre.

Another free event, the traditional Midsummer’s Night Ball, will be held at Zurich’s main train station.

swissinfo, Kathleen Aeschlimann

The Zurich Festival runs until July 10.

The organisers say it offers a unique combination of opera, theatre, concerts, dance and art.

Free outdoor screenings of performances will take place the evenings of July 1, 2 and 3, using for the first time high-definition technology.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR