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Festival introduces live opera to its website

The Avenches open-air opera festival says its première of Verdi’s "Aida" this summer is to be transmitted live on the Internet. Cameras will be installed to broadcast one of opera’s biggest spectacles from the town’s Roman amphitheatre.

This content was published on March 29, 2000 - 17:05

The Avenches open-air opera festival says its première of Verdi’s "Aida" this summer is to be transmitted live on the Internet. Cameras will be installed to broadcast one of opera’s biggest spectacles from the town’s Roman amphitheatre.

Avenches has become accustomed to large numbers of visitors since its first festival in 1995 - the amphitheatre has 6,000 seats which are invariably all filled. Last year a total of 52,000 people attended performances of another Verdi opera, "Nabucco". But this year the organisers expect the size of the audience to soar, thanks to the festival website and to the choice of opera.

"Seat reservations can be made through the Internet," said Philippe Bosset, the president of the Aventicum Opera Association, which organises the event. "And already, three months before the July 6 première, 50 per cent of the tickets are sold. We have had to add two extra performances to the originally scheduled six."

Created with the intention of bringing the spirit of Italian opera to a town which, 2,000 years ago was capital of the Roman province of Helvetia, the festival receives subsidies from neither Canton Vaud nor the Swiss government. It is supported by the local commune and relies on sponsorship and income from ticket sales.

Whatever the financial situation, over the past five years the Avenches opera festival has earned an international reputation for high quality. This is partly due to the spectacular setting, but also to the top class performers and musicians who work there. The festival has also introduced opera to many people in the surrounding region who previously had little access to it.

In the event of rain, ticket money is refunded unless the performance has already begun. But so far the heavens have smiled on the festival. Only four out of 43 have had to be cancelled.

By Richard Dawson

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