In a move signalling its continued and strong emphasis on opera programming, the Adelaide Festival has today announced an exclusive partnership with the prestigious Aix-en-Provence Festival to co-produce and co-commission major opera productions. The co-productions will form the centrepiece works of the next three Adelaide Festival seasons. The news of the historic agreement coincides with the announcement that Joint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy have had their tenures extended to 2023, the second time their contracts have been extended which makes them the Festival’s longest serving ADs. Both oversaw the success of 2017’s Saul, 2018’s Hamlet and this year’s Komische Oper Berlin production of The Magic Flute.

Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin for the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Photo © Aix-en-Provence Festival

The exclusive partnership will also see both festivals work together on a number of initiatives to support South Australia’s emerging artists, as well as arts workers across the industry in both Australia and France. The agreement will also enable South Australian artists to take part in the Academie du Festival d’Aix, an acclaimed professional development program for singers, instrumentalists and creators of concert and opera productions.

“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,” said Healy. “The pact between our two Festivals effectively ensures that opera of the highest international standards will continue as a centrepiece 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.

Patrice Chereau’s Elektra for the Aix-en-Provence Festival

 “We met Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield two years ago and knew our festivals were born to collaborate,” said Pierre Audi, Artistic director of the Aix-en-Provence Festival. “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.

“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.”

The Aix-en-Provence Festival is an internationally renowned festival for classical music, acknowledged as a key player in the international opera scene. Attracting big name directors, it regularly commissions and co-produces new productions with houses like the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna State Opera and English National Opera. In recent times, it has presented the world premiere of the late Patrice Chereau’s staging of Elektra, Katie Mitchell’s Written on Skin and Alcina and Christophe Honoré’s Così Fan Tutte.