[Festivals Stories] Festival Castell de Peralada

13 Jul 2021

Festival Castell de Peralada
16 July > 1 August 2021
Peralada, Spain

Music, Opera, Dance

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Festival Castell de Peralada had planned a programme for 2020 that included Verdi’s Aida, with Sondra Radvanovsky, Piotr Beczala, Anita Rachvelishvili and Carlos Álvarez, and performances by Houston Ballet, and William Christie with Les Arts Florissants. Following its cancellation the Festival started work on a new project for the summer of 2020 that could run in the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and that would not put at risk the health of audiences, workers or artists without giving up completely on the idea of having a festival at all. That work led to the creation of the Festival Castell Peralada Livestream, an exceptional festival that was completely free and could be attended online through the Festival’s website (festivalperalada.com). It took place in Peralada Castle's Carmel Church on 22-31 July 2020.

It was a virtual festival dedicated to the audiences who were determined, even last year, to throw open the doors to the arts in the setting of Peralada Castle, marked by the spirit of cultural enquiry that is typical of them. Six premieres were given, to which were added teaching and cultural activities led by artists closely linked to the Festival.

The shows that were live streamed took place in front of very small physical audiences with evenings dedicated to groups that had suffered badly in the pandemic, like healthcare staff, people working in travel and tourism, culture and a youth session for the youngest audience. The stages of 2020's Festival were the Carmen Church and the castle walls, a setting that saw the event returning to a space of totemic significance in its history. This was one of the first spaces used in the early years of the Festival, this year celebrating its 35th anniversary.

This online festival included María Pagés, Sondra Radvanovsky and Rufus Wainwright discussing Prima Donna; an intelligent debate round what the future map for music, theatre and festivals looks like in Culture and festivals post-COVID-19, artist Santi Moix and the Lyceum Symphony Orchestra conducted by Josep Pons with unusual music and painting in a concert that could be followed live on radio and was rebroadcast by Spanish state TV and its YouTube channel; singer and composer Alfonso de Vilallonga with a new recording, tenor David Alegret, accompanied on the piano by Rubén Fernández Aguirre, premiered CANTICEL, a homage to the poet Josep Carner that could also be heard on radio and television, with works by Ortega, Serra i Toldrà and with new compositions by Alberto García Demestres and Albert Guinovart; and a round table on Lied composition and song in the twenty-first century.

(General Editor: Simon Mundy)