The Israel Festival Jerusalem that began in 1961 with a modest series of classical concerts in Caesarea has become not just one of the most important events in Israel’s cultural calendar but also a festival of repute on the international stage. Today, the 51st Israel Festival is a three-week celebration of the performing arts featuring 31 different events in dance, theater, jazz, classical, Israeli and world music, with international and Israeli performers. The festival (May 23 to June 14), which opens with a tribute to the late, Yossi Banai at Safra Square, will feature contributions from 12 countries, including Japan, the first nation in Asia to recognize Israel which is celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations and the Czech Republic and China – both of which are celebrating 20 years of relations. To mark the anniversary each has sent some of its best to the Festival.
Some highlights from this year’s offerings:
In theater: the Yamato drummers of Japan with Gamushara (reckless in Japanese), and from China Nine Scrolls, a legend that traces the development of Kung Fu. From the Czech Republic The Forman Brothers – twin sons of famed movie director Milos Forman – bring their Obludarium, a circus cabaret in a big tent, to the Jerusalem Theater plaza. Charlie Chaplin’s daughter Victoria Thierre Chaplin directs her own daughter Aurelia Thierée in her surrealistic non-verbal Murmures des Murs, the story of a woman seeking her place in the world. In a joint Israel/UK and US production in English, Moshe Kepten’s production of the Tony Award (1998) winning musical Parade will tell the story of Leo Frank, tried, condemned and lynched in 1915 for a rape he did not commit.
In music: Two kinds of Baroque music from the 17th and 18th centuries are on offer: Accentus Austria will perform folk and classical music from the then-Austro-Hungarian Empire, and from Columbia comes Musica Ficta, giving visitors the rare chance to hear music by South American composers. Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezin is US /musicologist conductor Murray Sidlin’s concert drama of the 1943 camp performance in narrative and film with Israeli soloists and the Kuhn Choir from Prague.
In dance: Tango fans will be able to experience Tangueros Del Sur from Argentina, Momix returns with its earth-friendly Botanica and dance sensation from Japan Saburo Teshigawara and his company offer Mirror and Music.
For children: Children will enjoy the Flying Karamazov Brothers – juggling Jewish brothers from New York, and The Bell Child, a musical by Nava Semel and Ben Artzi.
Most events take place in and around the Jerusalem Theater complex and other Jerusalem venues. Detailed information and tickets, which range in price from NIS 40 to NIS 200 are available online at http://www.israel-festival.org.il.