Festival acts announced as organisers plot ‘careful live performance return’

More than 170 musicians, actors and dance artists have been announced for Edinburgh International Festival as organisers unveiled a “carefully organised return to live performance”.

Acts such as Grammy-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti and actor Alan Cumming are among performers due to take to the stage from August 7-29.

Organisers said outdoor venues, shorter performances with no intervals, and some performances uploaded online were among measures taken to put on the festival safely.

General booking opens on Friday June 11.

Doddie’s Dream
Violinist Nicola Benedetti will be a major draw (Andy Gotts/PA)

Highlights include:

A new concert staging of Ariadne auf Naxos starring Dorothea Roschmann in the title role alongside David Butt Philip as Bacchus.

Composer Errollyn Wallen continues the story of Dido and Aeneas in Dido’s Ghost, interweaving the music of Purcell’s original tragedy within her own new opera which stars South African soprano Golda Schultz.

The world premiere of Medicine, Enda Walsh’s latest play featuring star of stage and screen Domhnall Gleeson, which examines society’s relationship with mental health.

Nicola Benedetti in residence across two weeks at the festival, appearing with the Benedetti Baroque Orchestra, with an ensemble in Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and in a solo performance, The Story Of The Violin.

Alan Cumming delivers the first UK performances of his new show Alan Cumming Is Not Acting His Age, an evening of story and song which celebrates ageing.

Iain Munro, the chief executive of Creative Scotland, said: “The breadth and depth is more than we could have dreamt of in the darkest days of lockdown.

“It is a celebration of spirit and creativity across all art forms, placing Scotland’s magnificent home-grown talent shoulder to shoulder with a truly international array of artists.

“With over 170 performances from world renowned orchestras to inspirational young ensembles, folk stars to alternative jazz, electronica to world music sensations, and acclaimed choreographers to leading theatre companies, there really is something for everyone.

“This impressive programme will reach new audiences across the city as well as breathing life back into some of the capital’s most iconic venues.”

Established in 1947, Edinburgh International Festival usually hosts an international audience exceeding 400,000 people per year, organisers said.

Edinburgh International Festival 2021
Fergus Linehan, Edinburgh International Festival Director, said the return has been carefully planned including using outdoor venues (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Festival director Fergus Linehan added: “The programme we are announcing today represents a carefully organised return to live performance.

“While so much has been written and said about the challenges of the past 15 months, it is now time to look to the future and to the brilliant musicians, actors, dancers and poets who are getting ready to perform in Edinburgh this August.

“None of us can be certain of what the coming months will bring but we are committed to working together on returning to the joy of live performance.”