A truly golden Israel Festival this year

Patrons can have a field day selecting which top-notch local and international performances they want to see.

Israel Festival play 370 (photo credit: Courtesy PR)
Israel Festival play 370
(photo credit: Courtesy PR)
With apologies to Browning – “Oh, to be in Israel now that May is near.” May means the Israel Festival Jerusalem and this year’s, the 52nd, runs from May 25 to June 22 in and around the Jerusalem Theater and, new this year, at various historic sites. Festival general manager Yossi Talgan explains that “we are making a special effort to extend our audience base which is why we are offering one-time arts experiences that are sitespecific, and there’ll also be a lot of programs over the weekend so that people can spend a few days at the festival.”
Adds Festival Artistic director Moshe Kepten: “The emphasis this year is on the contemporary, both from here and abroad, in theater, music and dance, that reflect the pulse of our times.”
And for us English-speaking theater fans – oh frabjous day! – all three of the prize-laden theater imports are in English.
They are the wild and weird The Bee, by Hedeki Noda and Colin Teevan from Tokyo Metropolitan Theater in collaboration with NODA-MAP, from 1927 comes the exuberant multimedia fantasy Animals and Children taken to the streets by Suzanne Andrade, and The Table or “epic puppetry inspired by Beckett, the Bible and Ikea” from the cutting-edge Blind Summit, both of these UK companies.
Children can enjoy Shiraz’ Heart, a dance, music and theater piece by singer Rita, adapted from a folktale her mother told her, and Shakespeare’s As You Like It, adapted and directed by Ido Ricklin.
Additionally the inventive Zik Group presents Mysterium Cosmographicum, a multi-media spectacular on the cosmos, and the enormously gifted Yehezkel Lazarov makes his Festival debut with Igloo, a story of love, dreams and revenge.
We do great dance. The Kibbutz Dance Company (KDC), L-E-V and Anat Grigorio all have new pieces. Sharon Eyal and Guy Bechar are L-E-V and have made Housen, a dance installation created for the spaces at Hansen House, the former Jerusalem Leprosarium.
KDC comes with Lacking the Whole, an exploration of lack in its various aspects and Grigorio’s piece, Mr. Nice Guy asks “Who, exactly, is ‘me?’” Emanuel Gat started choreographing here in ’94. Now he lives and works in France. He and his company bring The Goldlandbergs, the story of a family set to “a dramatic montage of text, music and sound.”
From the Guggenheim to the Tower of David, Carlos Chamorro’s Dressed to Dance combines flamenco and fashion in costumes designed by Picasso, Dali and contemporary Spanish designers.
The Geneva Ballet comes with two pieces: Glory by Greek-born choreographer Andonis Foniadakis and Les Noces (The Marriage) by the UK’s Didy Veldman.
Classical music buffs can thrill to Handel’s Esther performed by the Israel Vocal Ensemble and the Baroquada orchestra conducted by David Stern, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring – it’s the Stravinsky centenary – with the IBA orchestra conducted by Frederic Chaslin, some great early music from Belgium’s 10-member Vox Luminis conducted by Lionel Meunier, and including Domenico Scarlatti’s Stabat Mater.
The Tower of David Museum and the YMCA will host “Holy City,” three concerts of works connected with Jerusalem by Estonia’s Andres Mustonen, the Hortus Musicus consort he founded in 1973, and the 70-year-old Latvian State Choir. Gil Shohat will host a Beethoven marathon at Ein Kerem.
For those weekend stays the usual ticket package deals include hotel discounts, and further perks are “under discussion.” Yet another inducement: if you buy more than one ticket, you get 15 percent off on the second.
See you at the festival! For more information: www.israel-festival.org.il