Adelaide Festival

Your 2019 Adelaide Festival Program

From the 1st till the 17th of March, AF19 offers more than 70 awesome events in theatre, contemporary and classical music, opera, dance, film, forums and visual arts.

Adelaide relationship with festivals is one of love and pride, after all, the festival city is a name we proudly boast. Therefore, we’ve got news we know you’ll be keen to read. The 2019 Adelaide Festival program has launched and it’s providing you with the down low on so many unique events including the popular Adelaide Writers’ Week, WOMADelaide, and Chamber Landscapes at Ukaria Cultural Centre.

From the 1st till the 17th of March, AF19 offers more than 70 awesome events in theatre, contemporary and classical music, opera, dance, film, forums and visual arts.

Among the 17 Australian premieres in the program are an astonishing 10 world premieres. 23 shows will play exclusively in the Adelaide Festival (with ten of these artists and companies making their Australian debut) and eight works especially commissioned by the Festival.

Delivering their third Adelaide Festival, Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield said: “In 2019 we showcase the rich creative imaginations of the world’s greatest artists – some very special works of sublime playfulness and joy along with works that are borne of the human impulse to understand, analyse and interpret world affairs. Classic stories reimagined for today’s audiences and new commissions that leap off the stage with energy and thrilling conviction. There are also fascinating connections between Jo Dyer’s first Adelaide Writers’ Week  and the broader program, and we know the Festival audience will love exploring these thematic links and spending 17 days inspired by creativity and ideas.”

Premier Steven Marshall said: “The Adelaide Festival and Adelaide Writers’ Week have built a reputation for providing first-class experiences for South Australians and those who come from interstate and from overseas to visit our state. They showcase so much of what our festival city has to offer and I congratulate Festival Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield on once again creating and delivering a truly outstanding program. I hope you can all be inspired by the wonderful artists and writers featured in the 2019 Adelaide Festival program.”

17 exhilarating days and night BEGIN AND END in spectacular fashion…

with OPERA, MUSIC and DANCE: on the first Friday, Komische Oper Berlin opens a 5-show season of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, directed by acclaimed Australian opera visionary Barrie Kosky – a certain sell-out; followed in nearby Elder Park on Saturday evening by a free family concert, National Geographic’s Symphony for Our World, when two breathtaking hours of synchronised film and live orchestral music and chorus will offer Adelaide a journey through some of the world’s most extraordinary  wildlife spectacles.

Other opening weekend must-see events include a newly commissioned work from Australian music icon Paul Kelly who has teamed up with Adelaide’s Seraphim Trio plus James Ledger and Alice Keath to present the soaring song cycle Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds.

Meanwhile, the incomparable voices of Moscow’s great Sretensky Monastery Choir and their spine-tingling tenor, baritone and basso profundo voices will resonate in our Town Hall in three exclusive-to-Adelaide concerts. The 42-strong choir that started in 1395, was closed down along with their monastery by the Russian revolution, and re-opened by glasnost in 1994.

In an opening weekend jam-packed with these and other highlights, dance-theatre visionary Meryl Tankard has re-choreographed and re-staged her seminal 1988 work Two Feet as a vehicle for the 21st century’s greatest ballerina, Natalia Osipova, portraying the turbulent life of 20th-century ballet superstar Olga Spessivtzeva. Those three names alone are compelling reasons not to miss this world premiere, exclusive to Adelaide.

Just as opera, music and dance informs the opening weekend, very different examples of the forms can be found in the final weekend. At the other end of the 2019 Festival, opera will again feature as the tall Texan mezzo with a one-in-a-million voice, Susan Graham, dazzles the Adelaide Town Hall in a one-off Sunday-night concert exclusive to the Adelaide Festival; dazzling Irish cabaret singer Camille O’Sullivan performs her acclaimed homage to the music of Nick Cave on The Palais, while in the Festival Theatre, the finest of contemporary dance will go on show for the last 3 festive nights, with the appropriately-named Grand Finale, the exclusive Australian premiere season of Israeli-born Hofesh Shechter’s paean to the end of days, an ecstatic, hypnotic work which has taken the world by storm.

Festival themes, RECURRING IDEAS and sources of inspiration

While Artistic Directors Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield insist they don’t seek out works for each season with a theme in mind, they acknowledge that artists across the globe often have similar preoccupations and interests in response to contemporary world events and challenges. This year, human displacement and migration is one of the recurring ideas evident across the 2019 Adelaide Festival program with works that are as diverse as the countries and artists from which they come.

Counting and Cracking, Belvoir’s epic new tale of home, exile and family, sheds long-overdue light on the glorious complexity of the Sri Lankan diaspora in Australia. On a very different note, the rough, heartfelt Manus by all-Iranian Verbatim Theatre Group reveals the confronting stories of detainees on Manus Island and Nauru, including the experiences of journalist Behrouz Boochani. Rarely seen outside Tehran, Manus is an Adelaide Festival exclusive.

Palmyra, a knockabout double-act by European duo Bertrand Lesca and NasiVoutsas, metaphorically depicts the destruction of the beautiful Syrian city through the medium of slapstick – funny until it hurts, and the almost biblical stories of communities in exile and the journeys towards safe harbour re-surface in Another Life: Human Flows/Unknown Odysseys. A massive exhibition from the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, 26 photographers and photojournalists present over 160 works, chronicling the endless flow of desperate people out of Africa across the Mediterranean towards Greece and the hope of safety in Europe.

In one of the 2019 Festival’s greatest treasures, South Africa’s Isango Ensemble team up with Britain’s Young Vic to present the Australian debut of A Man of Good Hope, the real-life story of Asad Adullahi that has become part-play, part-opera, part-musical and that comes to Adelaide having burned a trail of joy and pleasure amongst audiences around the world. It also tells a story of human displacement – this time with uplifting, exuberant music and thrilling performances from its 22-strong ensemble.
Adding another dimension to this creative seam is a visit from Kassim Eid, a Syrian refugee who has written on the horror of the international community failing to act against the Assad regime. He will share his experiences and views as part of Adelaide Writers’ Week 2019.

The diversity of modern THEATRE, in its many forms…

is on show this year, ranging from the joyful fantasy of innovative Dutch company Schweigman&’s immersive, Blaas – performed with audiences captive inside a giant white blob – to La Mama’s take on Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, performed in real time over two days, unfolding within the rooms of Hans Heysen’s historical home The Cedars, and spilling out into the surrounding landscape.

In another corner of contemporary theatre practise lie works that extract their subject matter from today’s burning issues including the gritty, documentary style of La Reprise, from Swiss auteur Milo Rau, who recently had The New York Times wondering whether he is the most controversial director in the world.

A contemporary examination of engendered power relationships and its repercussions is visible in Nat Randall and Anna Breckon’s cult hit The Second Woman, which sees one actress playing the same 10-minute scene 100 times continuously over a 24-hour period, opposite 100 ‘leading men’ recruited from the Adelaide community.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s Traverse Theatre and its production of Ulster American, the undisputed popular and critical smash hit of the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is not about Harvey Weinstein – according to its author, award-winning playwright David Ireland; but this three-hander of gender and ambition in a post-Weinstein world will have audiences caught between ‘gasps, guffaws and the urge to storm out’ before after-show discussions promise to animate audiences for days afterwards.

Two Jews walk into a theatre… from Australian theatre’s odd couple Brian Lipson and Gideon Obarzanek, is a funny and moving story of the personal and the political in which Lipson and Orbazanek play their real-life Jewish fathers, both immigrants, both bewildered by their son’s chosen professions and both fiercely opposed to the other’s political perspectives on Israel and Palestine.

Further proving that funny and insightful theatre can arise from the humblest of stories comes By Heart, from Portuguese theatre-maker Tiago Rodrigues, who will teach ten members of the Odeon Theatre audience to memorise a poem while relating the story of his nearly-blind, literature-loving grandmother, in a moving demonstration of our invisible inheritance – words and ideas.

Pushing the boundaries of theatre into the PHYSICAL realm of circus and acrobatics, thrilling young South Australian troupe Gravity & Other Myths follow up their sensational 2017 Adelaide Festival debut with the physically gobsmacking Out Of Chaos, specially commissioned by the 2019 Adelaide Festival; and Legs on the Wall’s emotionally charged Man With The Iron Neckis realised through highly physical and daring aerialism.

A day out with the whole FAMILY…

is in store during the 2019 Adelaide Festival. Aside from the unique, immersive experience that is Blaas, and the Festival’s free, family-friendly opening event Symphony for Our World, the 2019 Festival also includes three unusual, highly visual events programmed with the whole family in mind:

France’s Compagnie Non Nova and their production Foehn will delight and amaze audiences of all ages by animating plastic bags (yes, the supermarket kind) into exquisite creatures whose strange journey is performed to the music of Debussy; and SA’s own Windmill Theatre presents their idiosyncratic take on Russian fable Baba Yaga, revealing the truth about a mystery woman who plays music too loud and eats jelly babies with her mouth open.

Somewhere between cinema, aerial cartography and sublime landscape photography, Australian visual artists Josephine Starrs and Leon Cmielewski’sand the earth sighed presents land and oceans as spectacular but fragile living organisms, in which kids can ‘swim’ in virtual-reality oceans, or kick sand in virtual deserts. This unique event is presented in partnership with the Australian Museum for the duration of the Festival.

New work and beloved classics in a strong, varied MUSIC program…

include diva Susan Graham’s final-night show; Late Night in the Cathedral, with the Adelaide Chamber Singers and guest soprano Greta Bradman singing the rarely-performed, complete Lagrime di San Pietro; Oslo’s vocal/instrumental ensemble Trio Mediaeval presenting their unique blend of mediaeval and contemporary pieces in St Francis Xavier Cathedral; and Musica Viva’s Adelaide Town Hall recital by celebrated British cellist Natalie Clein, inspiring audiences with Bloch and Beethoven.

Also in the Town Hall, consummate musicians, violinist Richard Tognetti and fortepianist Erin Helyard, offer startling new insights into loved sonatas by Mozart and Beethoven in Forces of Nature; and a half-hour’s drive away from the city, at the UKARIA cultural centre on Mount Barker summit, curator Genevieve Lacey presents the next chapter in the Adelaide Festival’s Chamber Landscapes series. For A Brief History of Time Lacey has gathered a unique ensemble – assembled from Arnhem Land, Scandinavia, Italy, UK and Australia; with yidaki, trumpet, viola da gamba, vihuela da mano, theorbo, violin, harpsichord, fortepiano, baroque bassoon, and voice – and declares that to be human is to make music.

Australian violinist Kirsty Hilton will play first violin with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra in the renowned globetrotting 60-strong orchestra’s exclusive Adelaide performances, featuring Mozart’s three final symphonies and a Schubert/Bruckner program. And Tim Minchin is Back in his World PremiereAdelaide Festival show, singing his brilliant, razor-sharp songs and displaying his awesome prowess as a musician and songwriter.

Joining Tim in delivering world premieres to the Adelaide Festival is cabaret legend and local hero Robyn Archer in her new work Picaresque. Busking her way around a cardboard world of famous buildings she is joined by fellow-traveller and accordionist George Butrumlis.

The Palais contemporary music program features 13 great artists including some of Australia’s most prodigious female talent with art-pop diva Sarah Blasko; Emma Donovan and The Putbacks in a tribute to Ruby Hunter, and beloved singer-songwriter Megan Washington. Joining the Australian line up are revered jazz/improv musos James Morrison, Paul Grabowsky and Kram as The Others; Melbourne folk outfit The Paper Kites, and Melbourne’s distinctive indie-rock 5-piece Augie March – matched only by Minnesota’s equally distinctive indie-rock 5-piece Hippo Campus.
Other international highlights include legendary post-jazz, post-rock trio The Necks, Brooklyn’s legendary alt-rockers They Might Be Giants; R&B-influenced Rhye (complete with that distinctive falsetto); ex- Dinosaur Jr. frontman J Mascis, bewitching Irish cabaret star Camille O’Sullivan with her tribute to Nick Cave and surf rock favourites Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever.

And it wouldn’t be a Festival without WOMADelaide…

again celebrating the most joyous and dynamic traditional and contemporary music, dance, visual arts and street performances, the unique open-air festival set in Adelaide’s incomparable Botanic Park is a joyous four-day journey of discovery. The thought-provoking environmental Planet Talks program returns, with family-friendly entertainment in KidZone and mouth-watering food throughTaste the World.

2019 artists will include Amjad Ali Khan & the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Angelique Kidjo performing her reinterpretation of Talking Heads’ iconic album Remain in Light, Artonik ‘The Colour of Time’, Baloji, BCUC, Central Australian Aboriginal Women’s Choir, Dona Onete, Jamie Smith’s MABON, John Butler Trio, Julia Jacklin, Khruangbin, La Dame Blanche, Las Cafeteras, María Pagés Company ‘Yo, Carmen’, Sharon Shannon Band, Silkroad Ensemble, Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe and more.

Legends celebrated in an eclectic DANCE program

After an exhilarating launch of the dance program with Two Feet, and before savouring Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale, ballet and contemporary dance aficionados – and anybody with a pulse – will have opportunities to marvel at three more examples of contemporary and traditional dance forms and stories re-interpreted, re-invigorated… and lovingly mocked.

The Australian premiere, Adelaide-exclusive season of Dresden-based Semperoper Ballett’s Carmen won Swedish choreographer Johan Inger a Prix Benois de la Danse award (an ‘Oscar’ of the ballet world) for his contemporary take on the famous Bizet opera. This work, the first ballet to be programed since Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield became Artistic Directors, showcases one of the most acclaimed young choreographers working in the ballet world today.

Following the success of its 2017 work Intimate Space, Adelaide’s own Restless Dance Theatre will show that weeds are really just flowers in the wrong garden in Zizanie, one of two shows in the 2019 Festival created by Australian contemporary dance theatre legend Meryl Tankard.

And in another exclusive Australian premiere, Un Poyo Rojo from Argentina, will parody male peacockery and dance itself – while demonstrating excellence in the very form they are sending up.

Dissolving the boundaries between PERFORMANCE/ART & INSTALLATION…

is evident this year, ranging from Dutch company Schweigman&’s immersive, Blaas – a word that means ‘bladder’ or ‘bubble’ or ‘blow’ and is performed with audiences inside the installation.

Meanwhile, Robyn Archer’s ‘cardboard world of famous buildings’ referred to in Picaresque is the globetrotting chanteuse’s personal collection of macquettes – architectural models of iconic and everyday buildings from every city she has visited. When not in use as the stage ‘set’ of her performances, her delightful tiny world is on display as an exhibition/installation in its own right.

And then there’s Schuldfabrik. Nothing can prepare participants for the experience of walking through Dutch installation artist Julian Hetzel’s cosmetics outlet and back-of-house manufacturing space, which retails soap made from human fat extracted through liposuction. He donates proceeds and bars of soap to third-world aid and hygiene programs – literally repurposing first world excess into third world aid. ‘Wash away the guilt’ is one of the provocations of this unforgettable event that promises to intrigue and astonish audiences in equal measure.

Retrospectives, new works emphasise global perspectives in VISUAL ARTS

South Australian-born artist Sally Smart’s newest work, The Violet Ballet, commissioned by ACE Open and the Adelaide Festival at the Lion Arts Centre, uses embroidered and patch-worked textiles inspired by the costumes, set design and macabre story of Diaghilev’s work for Ballets Russes in the 1920s.

Quilty at the Art Gallery of South Australia, is the first major survey exhibition in a decade of one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists and cultural thought leader, Ben Quilty. The exhibition reflects on his myriad experiences including his role as an official war artist in Afghanistan and his campaign to save the lives of Bali Nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

Arguably one of the most important photographic artist of the past 50 years, the retrospective of New Yorker Roger Ballen documents the hidden world of small-town squatter camps and mine dumps in South Africa since the 1980s. First using simple square portraiture in stark black and white, Ballen eventually integrated drawing, painting, animation and theatre into a new hybrid aesthetic of visual art, a ‘shadow world’ of dreams and reality.

In what promises to be a landmark on the Australian visual arts calendar, the Adelaide//International series from leading university art museum Samstag Museum of Art, will present its inaugural exhibition of four solo works, united by themes of identity, post-colonialism and migration. The 2019 series includes new commissions by two Australian artists, Brook Andrew and Eugenia Lim, and two international artists, Lisa Reihana (New Zealand) and Ming Wong(Singapore). An exhibition highlight promises to be Lisa Reihana’s In Pursuit of Venus, the most talked about work from the 2017 Venice Biennale, presented in Adelaide at its original scale.  

In the current cacophony of fake news, WRITERS’ WEEK authors pose truths…

says 2019 Adelaide Writers Week Director Jo Dyer. Over the last 57 years, Adelaide Writers’ Week has seen some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers in conversation about literature, politics, poetry, current events, biography and the short story.  In 2019, some analyse the state of our institutions, some reflect on gender relations, others write of the impact of war. Some simply create deep worlds and great characters.

A 2019 innovation will be the Opening Address (by Man Booker Prize winner Ben Okri) to be held on The Palais. As usual, entry is free to the Mainstage Program and post-work Twilight Talks in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Gardens. A new series of evening talks, the Zeitgeist Series at Elder Hall, will involve leadings minds considering the pressing issues facing the world today, and features Germaine Greer and Ndaba Mandela are just two of the riveting speakers.

In 2019 guest writers come from the USA, UK, Iceland, Singapore, Greenland, India, Canada, Syria, Germany, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa, Iraq and Australia.

The Festival’s hub and FESTIVAL CLUB, is The Palais…

with an exciting line-up of events sure to draw crowds to the beautiful riverbank precinct in the balmy Adelaide autumn. The Palais Music Program is back with 13 great musicians; while the Long Lunch events again invite diners to enjoy the art of hospitality at three individual lunches that pair Festival artists with acclaimed Adelaide chefs. Maggie Beer will join forces with performer Robyn Archer; South African Duncan Welgemoed of acclaimed Adelaide restaurant Africola will pair up with the South African performers from A Man of Good Hope and Annabel Crabb, following the release of her newest cook book, will partner with a special guest to be announced after the launch. 

Breakfast with Papers, which has proven in its first two years to be the perfect start to the Festival day, returns again with shared ideas, impassioned discussion and a healthy hit of caffeine as host Tom Wright and his panel of guests discuss and debate the news of the day.

In 2019, the eagerly-anticipated Festival Forums hosted by journalist David Marr, will include interviews with Tim Minchin, Ben Quilty, Robyn Archer, Paul Kelly and Anna Goldsworthy, and many others, opening up the Festival experience through the eyes of its artists.

Booking Details: or BASS 131 246

Here Is The First Lineup For WOMADelaide 2019

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