ORGANISERS of the Edinburgh International Festival today offered a sneak preview of next year’s star-studded event.



Top-rated acts from Russia, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Ireland are among those who will grace the three-week programme.

Highlights are expected to include a celebration of one of Ireland’s best-known playwrights, a visit by one of Spain’s top theatre companies and an extravaganza of ancient Japanese theatre.

Germany’s Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and their celebrated conductor Jonathan Nott will be returning to Edinburgh two years after wowing audiences at the Festival.

Other classical highlights in the advance programme released today include performances by the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.

Opera buffs will be treated to a production of Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River, while star names in the opera programme include the sensational Czech soprano Magdalena Kozena. Other musical highlights are expected to come from the superstar German violinist Christian Tetzlaff, acclaimed Welsh pianist Llyr Williams and conductor Donald Runnicles, the Edinburgh-born musical director of San Francisco Opera who will be taking the helm of the gala opening concert.

Critics are relishing the prospect of a return visit to the Festival by the flamboyant Catalan theatre outfit La Cubana, who stormed the event in 1997 with Blinded by Love, said to be one of the most successful shows in the Festival’s history.

The award-winning company’s new production, Nuts CocoNuts, tells the story of a theatre company’s attempt to create Gibraltar’s answer to Paris’s Moulin Rouge.

Galway’s Druid Theatre Company will be presenting a unique look at the works of the celebrated writer John Millington Synge by presenting all seven of his plays, including The Playboy of the Western World, The Well of the Saints and The Tinker’s Wedding.

The Festival will also be staging a major showcase for the performers of Japanese Noh theatre, which dates back as far as the 14th century. Meanwhile, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra’s residency will feature performances of Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and Tristan und Isolde.

A spokeswoman for the Festival said: “We’re inundated at this time of year with requests from people beginning to plan holidays, whether they are locals setting dates aside at work or forthcoming visitors to Edinburgh booking flights. In response to this, the Edinburgh International Festival releases advance details of some of the artists it hopes will appear in 2005.”

Evening News theatre critic Thom Dibdin said: “The most exciting thing so far appears to be the return of La Cubana.

Next year’s Festival, which will run from August 14 until September 4, will be launched with the gala opening concert at the Usher Hall and will come to its traditional climax with the Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert in Princes Street Gardens.

Festival director Brian McMaster said: “It’s as exciting as ever seeking out these shows and artists, teaming up world-class talents and putting them on stage in Edinburgh. We hope by announcing key dates now people can begin to make their plans.”

Full details of next year’s Festival will be announced in mid-March, with public booking due to open on April 2.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh and Lothians Tourist Board said: “For almost 60 years the Edinburgh International Festival has enriched the city and Scotland as a whole, providing a showcase for some of the best artists in the world. Its innovation has proved inspiring to a wide spectrum of people and the other festivals that have grown from it now include the biggest arts festival in the world.”

"Their last appearances at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre were gloriously insane and there will be big demand to see them again."

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