(photo credit: Courtesy)
A s all-embracing cultural packages go, the Méditerranée has got most beat. The annual festival is due to take place in Ashdod for the sixth time, June 7-14, with its regular mix of music – across quite a few genres – movies, exhibitions and vittles on offer over the eight days.
All told, more than 350 artists and chefs will strut their stuff down on the coast, the participants hailing from countries that line the Mediterranean Sea – hence the name of the festival. The program compilers have pulled out all the local venue stops, with the location lineup taking in the Ashdod Performing Arts Center, the Ashdod Art Museum, the main city square, the Monart Museum and various cinemas and bars around town.
Chief among the headliner acts is world-renowned Spanish opera singer José Carreras who, besides his solo operatic work, was well known as a member of The Three Tenors – alongside Placido Domingo and the late Luciano Pavarotti – which was all the rage during the 1990s and early 2000s. Carreras will be joined, on June 13 (8:30 p.m.), at the Ashdod Amphitheater by the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, conducted by David Giménez, who is the tenor’s nephew, and Israeli soprano Daniella Lugasi.
Other standouts in the festival lineup include a tribute to now 92-year-old legendary Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis. The concert cast features Greek vocalists Eleni Vitali and Dimitri Basis and the Mikis Theodorakis Orchestra, with Theodorakis’s daughter Margarita serving as artistic director. Theodorakis is his country’s preeminent living composer and has scored more than 1000 works, including the soundtracks for a slew of box office hits, such as Zorba the Greek , Z and Serpico. He also composed the Mauthausen Trilogy , a cycle of arias with lyrics based on poems by Greek poet Iakovos Kambanellis, a survivor of the Mauthausen concentration camp.
On the performing arts side of the festival agenda, Ce que le jour doit à la nuit by French, Algerian and Moroccan dance troupe Hervé Koubi, should provide modern dance fanwith an emotive and evocative experience.
Méditerranée artistic director Dudu Zarzevski says the idea is to dip into ever-widening circles of cultural and artistic fare.
“We continue to spread our wings into enormous musical domains, to the peaks of opera with legendary tenor José Carreras, to a tribute to the greatest Greek composer Theodorakis, one of the pillars of Israeli music Miki Gabrielov, to Nova Andalusian music with [Moroccan singers] Abdelfettah Bennis and Hervé Koubi. They all bring the sounds, images, scents and flavors of the Mediterranean,” he says.
And there is plenty more to be had next week where that lot is coming from. Portuguese fado singer Ana Moura, who has performed with The Rolling Stones, is in the festival mix as is singer Netta Elkayam, who will present her long-running tribute to famed Jewish Moroccan songstress Zohara El Fassia. The Puerto Flamenco dance company from Seville will be on hand to present its reading of Spain’s national dance format, and there will be an intriguing Spanish- Greek mix on offer courtesy of Israeli ensembles the Yiamas octet and Trio del Alma, who will join forces in a musical tour de force.
There is a treat in store for ethnic jazz fans on June 12 (8 p.m.), with a confluence of a trio led by veteran jazz drummer Noam David and internationally acclaimed Jerusalemite jazz pianist Omri Mor. Over the past decade or so, Mor has gained global fame for his peerless fusion of jazz and Andalusian music. Drummer Doron Raphaeli will bring his Beit Aba project quintet, with its exotic mix of Kurdistan music and Jerusalem synagogue liturgical poetry to the Méditerranée fray, while violinist- vocalist Keren Tennenbaum will perform her Shikuf Mochin electric rock set on June 14.
There are also quite a few free slots in the festival program, including the ever-popular klezmer-rock outfit Oy Division, who should push the energy output level up several notches, while Greek-leaning indie artist Tomer Yeshayahu will proffer his singular take on Mediterranean music. And the local IMAX facility will screen a wide range of movies over the eight days, while the June 10-14 Food Fair should appeal to most palates. The Méditerranée festival takes place June 7-14 in Ashdod. For more information and tickets: http://www.medifestival.co.il
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