Manchester International Festival 2011 gets Wood, Willem and Wagner for first confirmed productions

Posted: 8th October 2010

The Manchester International Festival (or MIF for the sake of my keyboard) has been operational now since 2007, although related performances took place a few years before, including the memorable Gorillaz: Demon Days night in 2005.

Previous festival performances have included premiere and one-off appearances from Elbow (with the Halle Orchestra), Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson (Yellow Pony stories), Antony and the Johnsons with the 36-piece Manchester Camerata ensemble, Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett's 'Monkey: Journey to the West' in 2007 and the Durutti Column's homage to a previous Manchester luminary, "A Paean to Wilson".

2011 sees an already ecelectic line-up starting to build for the festival, set to run from 30th June to 17th July. Tickets are now on sale for the following confirmed productions, with the full line-up set to be announced in March.

That Day We Sang

Victoria Wood is synonymous with writing bittersweet comedy, coupled with inoffensive yet mildly barbed one-liners. For MIF she presents a new theatre piece based on the lives of the kids in the Manchester Children's Choir, set during the late 20s and focussed on their recording of the popular song "Nymphs and Shepherds".

Presented as a documentary some 45 years after the event, the production follows their efforts making a 78 recording of Purcell's famous song, featuring a specially assembled choir (from MIF Creative's current school's programme) and musical arrangements. The play runs from 6th - 16th July and tickets cost £16-£36. NB - Victoria Wood is not appearing in the play, she is the producer.

The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic

This is a play by acclaimed director Robert Wilson and stars Hollywood's Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Wild at Heart and Spider-Man), running from 9th - 16th July and complete with music from Antony (of the Johnsons). The play concerns the life and works of performance-artist Marina Abramović (also in the production, returning here after her 2009 appearance) and includes a mixture of art, theatre and traditional Serbian and Antony music throughout. Tickets cost £15 - £39.50.

Die Walküre

The theme of Wagner's "Ring Cycle" continues in 2011 after the success of "Götterdämmerung" at 2009's MIF with another delve into the German's canon by the acclaimed Halle Orchestra under the guidance of Sir Mark Elder.

The entire performance is supported by the prologue piece "The Madness Of An Extraordinary Plan", commissioned for the MIF by Gerard McBurney and again performed by Halle. The presentation is spread over two days, Friday 15th July will feature "The Madness" plus Act 1 of "Die Walkure" while Saturday's matinee will feature Acts 2 and 3 of "Die Walkure". Tickets cost from £15 per performance.

We will keep you posted on any additions to the line-up during the coming months.

Paul Pledger