The Bergen International Festival in Bergen, Norway, presents art in all its guises: Music, theatre, dance, opera and visual art. It is the largest of its kind in the Nordic countries.
For almost seven decades, the Festival has celebrated and rattled the city for a fortnight of hundreds of events, where the best artists from Norway and abroad perform. The 2020 festival will take place from 20 May to 03 June, and the entire festival programme will be launched by February 2020.
Bergen is situated in the most dynamic region of the Norway, with incredible nature as a dramatic and beautiful backdrop for all activities. The city nestled amid seven mountains is home to a progressive music scene, several theatres and a professional dance ensemble. This is the home town of dramatist Jon Fosse; Henrik Ibsen was once the manager of the city theatre, and one of the oldest symphony orchestras in the world, the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, is located here. The homes of Edvard Grieg, Ole Bull and Harald Sæverud are unforgettable settings for concerts during the festival, when art of the highest calibre is to be found throughout the city.
The 2019 Festival took place from 22 May until 05 June, with longing as an overall theme running through the programme. The theme was apparent in the opening performance Waiting, a re-telling of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt seen from the character Solveig’s point of view set to Edvard Grieg’s music. Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård created a modern Solveig for the performance, directed by Spanish Calixto Bieito and with critically acclaimed Norwegian soprano Mari Eriksmoen in the leading role. Watch glimpses from the performance.
The 2019 programme presented thirteen world premieres of theatrical and musical works and eight Scandinavian premieres.
‘As always, the programme presents art of all genres during fifteen remarkable days when the city finds itself at its most beautiful,’ says festival director Anders Beyer.
International stars visit Bergen
The 2019 line-up contained both word-famous classical stars such as Yo-Yo Ma, Kathryn Stott, Steven Isserlis, Robert Levin and Hilary Hahn, and internationally renowned artists and creators including Angélique Kidjo, Mikael Persbrandt, Robert Wilson and Nils Frahm. Festival composer Unsuk Chin was prominent in the 2019 programme.
The Bergen International Festival continued its focus on art in virtual versions and offers a free VR lounge at the main venue of Grieghallen throughout the Festival period. Also on the programme was the crime mystery Frogman, which included VR in the play itself.
‘Together with our many partners at home and abroad, the Festival offers extraordinary dreamscapes filled with art and experiences, creating space to think new thoughts and put the soul to use, says Anders Beyer, who has been Festival director since 2012.
New venue in the middle of the city
In the city square Festplassen, a new epicentre for the Festival is created, hosting a number of different events. In the Festival square tent, acts like voodoo priestess and artist Moonlight Benjamin and Joan as Police Woman performed solo in 2019. Outdoors, massive dinosaurs roamed to the delight of young and old and the world’s most swinging potato-installation plays greasy tunes.
‘I believe in the transformative powers of art, and that experiences engaging our hearts enrich our lives more than we can fathom. In that sense, the Festival is a gift that society presents to itself’, says the Festival director.