The Edinburgh Festival 1994: Opera & Concerts

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The Independent Culture
Opening Concert (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 14 Aug). A noisy homecoming for the expatriate conductor Donald Runnicles - unknown in Britain, big abroad - who directs the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and massed choruses and soloists too numerous to mention in Mahler's so-called Symphony of a Thousand (No 8).

Borodin String Quartet (Queen's Hall, 031-225 5756, 15 Aug). The first of four Beethoven programmes from an eminent visiting ensemble.

Fidelio (Festival Theatre, 031-225 5756, 15 & 17 Aug). A new Scottish Opera production, directed by Tim Albery (so expect a degree of muscular abstraction) and conducted by SO's music director, Richard Armstrong.

Le Nozze di Figaro (Usher Hall, 031- 225 5756, 15 Aug). This is a concert performance, for which Sir Charles Mackerras conducts a respectably worthy rather than glamorous cast - save the star presence of Carol Vaness as the Countess.

Olga Borodina (Queen's Hall, 031-225 5756, 16 Aug). One of the new generation of high-profile Russian voices sweeping Western Europe - followed on 19 Aug by another, Galina Gorchakova. Both recitals promise to be memorable events. Both broadcast on R3.

Briseis (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 18 Aug). Apart from Beethoven, this year's festival focus is Emmanuel Chabrier: urbane, fun, very French, and undervalued in this country until

Opera North adopted him. Briseis, though, is a sober operatic essay on the early days of Christianity. Only one act was completed, and this is its UK premiere - given in concert with the Scottish Opera chorus and Joan Rodgers in the title role. Broadcast on R3 on 14 Sept, 7.30pm.

Carlo Maria Giulini (Usher Hall, 031- 225 5756, 19 Aug). The most elegant of veteran conductors, with the European Community Youth Orchestra and an all-Brahms programme.

Frans Bruggen (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 20 Aug). A master classicist, conducting his own Stavanger Symphony Orchestra in the first of the Beethoven symphony-cycle concerts.

Alfred Brendel (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 22 Aug). Beethoven piano sonatas from one of the most masterful interpreters of modern times.

Richard Goode (Queen's Hall, 031-225 5756, 23 Aug). Suddenly emerging as a front-rank contender in the world league of pianists, the American Richard Goode stunned London audiences recently with the first instalments of a Beethoven cycle. If he does the same in Edinburgh, this (and his other recitals on 26 & 29 Aug) could prove highlights of the festival.

Gunter Wand (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 23 Aug). More Beethoven, from another veteran who has come to be recognised as an authoritative (and even cult) figure in core German repertory, conducting his own NDR Symphony Orchestra of Hamburg. Broadcast on R3 on 18 Sept, 1pm.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (Festival Theatre, 031-225 5756, 25-27 Aug). Benjamin Britten's Shakespeare opera, imported from Sydney by the Australian Opera in an acclaimed production by the directorial team responsible for the film Strictly Ballroom. Listen out for the outstandingly accomplished, young (and British) lyric tenor Ian Bostridge as Lysander.

The Cleveland Orchestra (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 31 Aug). Arguably the leading US orchestra, with Christoph von Dohnanyi and - you've guessed it - a couple of Beethoven symphonies. Broadcast on R3 on 11 Sept, 1pm.

L'Etoile (King's Theatre, 031-225 5756, 31 Aug & 2 Sept). Opera North's sharp, perky production of the comic romp by Chabrier, already seen in Leeds and worth seeing again for Jeremy Sams's brilliantly adroit English translation.

Le Roi Malgre Lui (King's Theatre, 031-225 5756, 1 & 3 Sept). A new Chabrier companion piece for L'Etoile which Opera North has put together specially for the festival. 'The Reluctant King' is translated and, this time, directed too by Jeremy Sams.

Felicity Lott / Graham Johnson (Queen's Hall, 031-225 5756, 3 Sept). Supreme interpreters of French song with a recital programme of, needless to say, Chabrier plus Gounod, Wolf and Schubert.

Boulez Conducts Boulez (Playhouse Theatre, 031-225 5756, 3 Sept). Recovered from his recent illness, the ice-man of Ircam turns the Playhouse into a hi-tech sound space for the UK premiere of a major (and these days, rare) new work. With the Ensemble Intercontemporain from Paris.

The Dream of Gerontius (Usher Hall, 031-225 5756, 3 Sept). The last-night concert: Elgar's choral work, with husband-and-wife soloists Philip Langridge and Ann Murray, conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras.

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