Summer Festivals

Summer Festivals

AIX-EN-PROVENCE Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

Among the most prestigious music festivals in Europe, in one of its most beautiful cities, with several venues including the 17th/18th-century Episcopal Palace courtyard. This year the Festival will celebrate the anniversaries of four major musicians, Verdi and Wagner, Britten and Poulenc. Most importantly, it will also bring its own specific contribution to Marseille-Provence 2013, the European Capital of Culture project. The 2013 program offers Mozart’s Don Giovanni as Dmitri Therniakov duly revisits the myth and makes the seducer of Seville a ‘man without qualities’, at the Grand Théâtre de Provence, Patrice Chéreau and Esa-Pekka Salonen will revisit Strauss’s Elektra, while the Archevêché theatre, Robert Carsen and Gianandrea Noseda will offer their very personal interpretation of Verdi’s Rigoletto. July 4–27.

ARLES Les Rencontres Arles Photographie

Presented in 20 heritage sites throughout the city, with nightly opening-week projections outdoors in the ancient Roman theater, this year’s festival offers 60 different exhibitions and 50 workshops. The 2013 edition is dedicated to the black and white aesthetic form and includes works by renowned artists that have never been shown until now, along with treasures from the past. Many of these exhibitions are genuine events, in the form of conceptual installations, albums, classic prints and a few exceptions in colour. July 1–Sept 22.

AVIGNON Festival d’Avignon

The 67th annual theater festival in Avignon, a thriving modern city within its intact medieval walls, offers international (but mostly in French) comedy, drama, music and dance, from the main outdoor stage in the Papal Palace courtyard to street corners at every turn. A few gems on the packed 2013 playbill: Ludovic Lagarde’s Lear is in Town, translation and adaptation by Frédéric Boyer and Olivier Cadiot for King Lear by William Shakespeare, and Nicolas Stemann’s Faust I+II on the text by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. July 5–26.

BEAUNE Festival International d’Opéra Baroque

In the lovely walled city flanked by Burgundy’s greatest vineyards, four weekends of 17th- and 18th-century music, in the courtyard of the 15th-century Hospices de Beaune or in the 12th/14th-century Notre Dame basilica. In this 31st edition the original version of Gluck’s Orpheus and Euridice, Bach’s Passion according to St Jean and Vivaldi’s l’Incoronazione di Dario . July 5–28.


On the Riviera, where France’s Jazz Age began in the Roaring Twenties, Europe’s oldest jazz festival, launched in 1960, is still among its very best. On the bill on the big outdoor seaside stage this summer: headliner Sting, festival faithfuls Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and John Dejohnette, rising star of baroque-classic fusion Ibrahim Maalouf and more. July 12–July 21.

MARCIAC Jazz in Marciac

In a 13th-century bastide town in southwest France, almost equidistant between Bordeaux and Toulouse, the 2013 edition welcomes Marcus Miller, Wayne Shorter, George Benson, Diana Krall, Wynton Marsalis, Roberto Fonseca, Richard Galliano, Ahmad Jamal, Al Jarreau, Paco de Lucia, Taj Mahal, Joe Cocker, Maceo Parker and many more. July 27–Aug 15.

ORANGE Les Chorégies d’Orange

In a big outdoor arena against the background of the ancient Roman theater wall, the oldest festival in France – the first to have revived the tradition of the open-air spectacle. In 2013 it pays homage to Wagner and Verdi. Performances of opera and classical recitals are presented in the ancient Roman theatre,  a semi-circular auditorium which seats 9,000. July 11–August 6

LA ROQUE D’ANTHERON Festival International de Piano

Probably the most important piano festival in the world, the Festival International de Piano is held in a tiny Provençal town, in both outdoor and indoor venues. At the keyboards this year: Evgeny Kissin, Nelson Freire, Mikhaïl Pletnev, Arcadi Volodos, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Boris Berezovsky, Nikolaï Lugansky, Daniil Trifonov, Francesco Tristano, Lukas Geniusas, Andreï Korobeinikov, Anne Queffélec, Abdel Rahman El Bacha, Katia et Marielle Labèque, Marc-André Hamelin, Adam Laloum…and for a special incursion into « Marseille Provence 2013 »the  West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, under the direction of Daniel Barenboim. July 20–Aug 20.

LA ROCHELLE Francofolies

A festival dedicated to French pop music, launched in 1984 to uncover new talents of la chanson francophone and held in the historic Atlantic port city of La Rochelle. Among the many stars and groups slated for 2013: Alain Bashung, Jacques Demy, Barbara, Serge Gainsbourg, Charles Trénet, Léo Ferré, Boby Lapointe, Allain Leprest and more. July 12–16.


Originally published in the June 2012 issue of France Today, updated in May 2013

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