Edinburgh International Festival 2023: When is the festival? What is in the programme? What are the highlights in Nicola Benedetti’s first year as director?

More than 2,000 artists from 48 different nations will appear at this year’s festival
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A new era for the Edinburgh International Festival is underway, with Nicola Benedetti unveiling her first programme as director.

Nearly 300 music, opera, dance and theatre events will unfold across the city’s stages this August, with more than 2,000 artists from 48 different nations appearing in the event. Here are the key questions answered and just a few of the highlights from Benedetti’s programme.

When does the Edinburgh International Festival 2023 start? When does it finish?

Cécile McLorin Salvant.Cécile McLorin Salvant.
Cécile McLorin Salvant.
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This year’s Edinburgh International Festival will run from August 4-27.

What are the venues for the Edinburgh International Festival 2023?

The venues where performances will take place include the Edinburgh Playhouse, Festival Theatre, the Royal Lyceum Theatre, the Traverse Theatre and the Usher Hall.

What are the highlights in the Edinburgh International Festival 2023 programme?

The Threepenny Opera will be staged by The Berliner Ensemble at this year's Edinburgh International Festival.The Threepenny Opera will be staged by The Berliner Ensemble at this year's Edinburgh International Festival.
The Threepenny Opera will be staged by The Berliner Ensemble at this year's Edinburgh International Festival.

Trojan Women, Festival Theatre, August 9-11: Composer Jung Jae-il, who is best known for his work on the movies Okja and Parasite, and the TV series Squid Game, has collaborated with Ahn Sook-sun, one of the most celebrated performers of pansori, Korea's ancient form of storytelling, on this new version of the Greek tragedy. More than 25 singers, actors and musicians will take part in the National Changgeuk Company of Korea's production, which is billed as "a stunning portrait of resilience in the face of war and occupation."Food, Festival Theatre Studio, August 3-27: An "intimate dinner party of smell, taste and touch" is promised in this show from American theatre artist Geoff Sobelle, which will see the audience gather around a dinner table. Personal memories, consumption, and the evolution of food production over generations will be explored in a show which will feature Sobelle's signature flavours of "rigorous design, stage illusion, and an absurdist sense of humour."

Budapest Festival Orchestra, Usher Hall, August 8-10: Conductor Ivan Fischer will bring the orchestra he founded 40 year ago to the festival for a four-show residency with a difference. The stalls seating will be removed for two of the shows, which will see some of the audience seated on beanbags and cushions, while they will also get the chance to hear from festival director Nicola Benedetti and Fischer himself.

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Dusk, Royal Lyceum Theatre, August 5-8: Inspired by the 2003 Lars von Trier film Dogville, which starred Nicole Kidman, Lauren Bacall, Paul Bettany and Chloë Sevigny, has inspired this play by Brazilian theatre director and filmmaker Christiane Jatahy. It focuses on a young Brazilian woman who flees an oppressive, quasi-fascist regime in her country and finds refuge in a community of artists staging a play based on Dogville - only for her to fall victim to exploitation and racist and xenophobic attitudes.

Dame Evelyn Glennie, The Hub, August 18: The festival will be offering the chance to hear directly from some of the world’s leading musical figures throughout this year’s event. One of the most intriguing promises to be an in-conversation event with the Aberdeenshire-born musician, the first in the world to make a career as a solo percussionist.

Dame Evelyn Glennie.Dame Evelyn Glennie.
Dame Evelyn Glennie.

The Lost Lending Library, Church Hill Theatre Studio, August 3-27: A magical travelling library will play host to Punchdrunk Enrichment’s immersive and interactive theatre experience suitable for children aged 6-11 which is aimed at inspiring a lifetime of reading and writing.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Festival Theatre, August 5: There will be two opportunities to see the Miami-born Grammy-winning jazz vocalist performing at the festival In the first, Salvant will take the stage with a 13-piece orchestra of multi-instrumentalists to stage Ogresse, a new musical journey myth and song telling the story of “a lovesick ravenous monster who lives in a forest.”Thrown, Traverse Theatre, August 3-27: Writer Nat McCleary and director Johnny McKnight will be exploring issues around belonging and identity in Scotland with a new play focusing on five "wildly different women" taking part in Scottish backhold wrestling contests at Highland Games events.

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The Threepenny Opera, Festival Theatre, August 18-20: Nearly a century after the launch of the "play with music" by Bertolt Brecht, Elisabeth Hauptman and Kurt Weill in Berlin, the Berliner Ensemble theatre company will join forces with Australian director Barrie Kosky to stage the UK premiere of a new production of the satire of capitalist society.Catriona Price and Friends, The Hub, August 11: The Orcardian fiddler and composer's debut album drew inspiration from the work of island writers past and present, including Pam Beasant, George Mackay Brown, Kevin Cormack, Harry Josephine Giles, Yvonne Gray, Margaret Tait, Luke Sutherland and Laura Watts.Dimanche, Church Hill Theatre, August 15-19: Award-winning Belgian companies Focus and Chaliwaté will stage a theatre show suitable for audiences as young as nine combining puppetry, video, mine and clowning to depict "the end of the world as we know it" in the near future. It will show a family attempting to maintain a normal life as climate chaos takes hold of their city, while three travelling wildlife reporters do their best to document the apocalypse by filming three animals on the brink of extinction.Endea Owens, The Hub, August 23-24: The Detroit-born bassist and composer, who has performed at some of New York's leading jazz venues, will be bringing her sextet to Edinburgh for two shows - one of which will see the premiere of an EIF commission for a response to Dr Martin Luther King's final "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech in Memphis in 1968.Nai Barghouti, The Hub, August 26: The Palestinian singer, composer and flute player was just 14 when she launched her professional career. Barghouti, who has since performed across the Middle East, Europe and the United States, released her debut album at the start of last year. She will play two contrasting shows - an intimate concert with percussionist Ruven Ruppik and then with her quartet for "a spontaneous affair where the musical energy of East-meets-West is unleashed."Anoushka Shankar, Festival Theatre, August 27: The British-American sitar player, composer and activist began studying the instrument and Indian classical music at the age of nine under tutelage of her father, the late Ravi Shanker, made her professional debut when she was 13 and secured her first Grammy nomination when she was 20. Shankar, a previous collaborator with Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Joshua Bell, M.I.A. and Sting, will be performing in Edinburgh with a quintet drawn from the London music scene.

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