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A world of shifting perspectives.

By Alix Norman

Now into its second decade, the KYPRIA International Festival is a month-long celebration of the arts that is almost without compare on the island. From its inception in 1993, it has aimed at presenting Cypriots and visitors alike with a variety of cultural events of the highest possible standard. And, year on year, organisers have striven to advance the festival's approach and quality, always seeking to improve on the variety of events and appeal to audiences both new and established.

With past highlights including performances by the English National Symphony Orchestra, the Salzburg Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, The Rhine Ballet, the National Ballet of Cuba, and one particularly stunning show featuring John Malkovich in Infernal Comedy:Confessions of a Serial Killer, KYPRIA is famed for offering the best of the best. So it's no surprise that in 2015 the festival is providing a feast of musical, theatrical and dance events.

KYPRIA aspires to fuse ensembles of international acclaim with outstanding local talent, providing, say organisers "an opportunity for the representation and participation, to the greatest possible extent, of Cypriot artists and groups without, of course, detracting from the international character of the festival".

Thus, original compositions from local jazz guitarist Ermis Michail sit alongside performances by the Israeli Batsheva Dance Ensemble; the Cyprus Theatre Organisation and Cyprus Symphony Orchestra's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream complements Motionhouse UK's breath-taking rendition of 'Broken'; and a co-operative effort between the Czech Republic and musicians from our own shores results in "The violin music of Cyprus meets the West".

With a total budget approaching half a million euros, and artistically directed by the renowned Andys Bargilis, KYPRIA covers a variety of locations around the island, its ten performances (each with at least two shows) set between September 2 and October 9. But let's start at the beginning.

Opening the programme are three performances of Stabat Mater, an all-singing, all dancing-show that draws on a marvellous diversity of elements. Brought to us by the TichEi Opera of the Czech Republic, directed and conducted by Valentina Shuklina and with the dramaturgy and choreography led by Radim Vizvary, it's billed as "A thrilling hour-ling spectacle that combines opera, acrobatics and mime theatre". And though the music may be original, the lyrics are an exact replication of those in the 'Stabat Mater Dolorosa', a hymn that meditates on the suffering of Virgin Mary during Christ's crucifixion.

September 6 to 8 sees three performances of The Violin Music of Cyprus Meets the West taking place in Nicosia, Paphos and Larnaca, all of which are free of charge. A cooperation between the Philokallia Ensemble of Prague (violinist Veronika PanochovEi and composer and artistic director Marios Christou both hailing from the Czech company) and local artists (pianist Valentini Loizou and Andreas Christodoulou on the violin, lute and oud both representing Nicosia) the event employs the violin as a unifying global force in both traditional and classical music.

The Batsheva Dance Ensemble of Israel will be gracing our shores with a look at choreographer Ohad Naharin's repertoire -- "from its most extravagant to its most intimate and heartrending" -- on both September 8 and 10. Entitled DECADANCE 2015, the performance -- which will showcase both at the Strovolos Municipal Theatre and the Municipal Garden Theatre of Limassol -- is a study in evolution, a celebration of the decade of work that has gone into its creation.

The aforementioned Ermis Michail Quintet -- a multi-national group comprised of some of the brightest emerging jazz artists -- will be performing original compositions on both September 10 (Larnaca) and 11 (Limassol), while September 15, 16 and 18 will see Artistic Director Kevin Finnan's latest production, Broken, erupt onto stage in both Nicosia and Limassol. Visually thrilling and full of trickery, the performances, we're told, will "probe our precarious relationship with the earth, luring the audience into a world of shifting perspectives".

Director Lilly Meleme brings a Chekov classic from September 19 to 22, with an adaption of the enduring Uncle Vanya taking place both in Limassol's Rialto and at the Strovolos Municipal Theatre, while Stavros Xarchakos -- one of the greatest Greek composers of all time -- will be appearing at the Municipal Garden Theatre (Limassol) and the Makarios III Amphitheatre (Nicosia) on the 22nd and 23rd.

Towards the end of September, KYPRIA goes musical. Firstly, the Cyprus Theatre Organisation and the Cyprus Symphony Orchestra's rendition of Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream -- with musical direction by Alkis Baltas -- promises an evening in which "melodically exciting and rhythmically taut music blend with the theatrical text, while through revolutions of love, relationships come to conflict with the games of a spiritual world". Then it's over to one of the world's premier orchestras, the Academy of St Martin in the Fields who, along with pianist Alexandra Papastefanou and conductor Nikos Christodoulou, will be presenting a programme that includes BartEk's Romanian folk dances, Bach's Keyboard Concerto No. 1 and Chamber Symphony, for strings, op. 118a by Shostakovitch.

And, as the programme moves into October, the final days will see audiences treated to a grand finale of no less than four performances of EROFILI REPEAT, a contemporary adaptation of the Georgios Chortatsis' classic Cretan renaissance tragedy, directed by Maria Kyriakou.

It's certainly a lot to take in -- a full four weeks of brilliance, from the unusual to the sublime. But then that's the KYPRIA International Festival for you: each new series pushing the boundaries of quality performance. Welcome to the second decade of cultural luxury…

KYPRIA International Fetival 15

From September 2 to October 9 includes a variety of productions performed around the island. For full details of the programme, visit www.kypria.org.cy. Although a number of performances offer free entrance, the majority require tickets, which are priced at e1/410 (e1/45 for students, soldiers, retired persons). Those with disabilities are allowed free entrance. Tickets are available from www.soldoutticketbox.com, SOEASY kiosks and the TIME OUT kiosk in Paphos

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Aug 31, 2015
Words:1016
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