Adelaide Festival of Arts – A Feast for the Senses

An opera stage turned lake and acrobats doubling as puppeteers are among the inventive elements in this year’s festival.

A playwright confronts a career crisis and the death cult of politics, while a Palestinian author sparks a free-speech debate at Adelaide Writer’s Week.

Lady Beatle adds new flavours to Beatles classics. Likewise, singers with harmonious pitch perfect voices captivate in Groove Sessions.

Sense of Place

From grand opera to breathtaking dance performances to immersive art installations, Adelaide Festival of Arts celebrates a diverse range of art and culture. The Festival has been entertaining audiences for more than 60 years, helping to turn Adelaide into an internationally recognised festival hub, showcasing work from the world’s best artists.

This year, the Festival celebrated its 60th anniversary, opening with a stunning digital illumination show from Blinc; Romeo Castellucci’s staging of Mozart’s Requiem; the Australian Ballet’s Australia premiere of works by Crystal Pite, Jiri Kylian and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions Winter’s Tale and Twelfth Night; and the world premier of Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band performing Mahler’s Eighth Symphony.

Other highlights included the world premiere of a new work by local playwright Simon Stone, The Doctor; a spectacular performance of Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton, by the Cape Town Funny Festival and presented as part of a curated Adelaide Fringe program; Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet making their Australian debut; a unique festival show from South African theatre group Patch Theatre, The Lighthouse; and the return of Unsound.

The Festival also presented a curated International Contemporary Visual Arts program and a four-day music event, WOMADelaide. The Festival is a catalyst for tourism and contributes to the social, cultural and economic fabric of South Australia.

Sense of Time

The Festival’s first year saw a remarkable gathering of international artists to Adelaide to create a cultural feast. Since then the program has grown to include a wide range of performances and events including Adelaide Writers’ Week, Australia’s original literary festival; WOMADelaide, the world music festival; and Adelaide Fringe, a curated contemporary visual arts program.

The Adelaide Festival has always been a place to celebrate great artistic achievement and the Festival has featured many world premieres. From opera singers Tito Gobbi and Marie Collier to a high-wire walk from the Festival Theatre roof across the River Torrens, there has been an array of thrilling experiences.

In an era of instant news and short attention spans, the Festival has provided a feast for the senses with its rich evocation of time and place. Whether it’s Nikolai Gogol’s satire The Government Inspector(Revizorin Russian), or Canadian company Kidd Pivot’s masterwork Betroffenheit, the themes of corruption, misunderstandings and miscommunication never date.

The musical highlights of the festival have included Vladimir Ashkenazy conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Beethoven’s nine symphonies and five piano concertos presented as a complete cycle; jazz musicians Acker Bilk and the Paramount Jazz Band; Mahler’s monumental Eighth Symphony; and a visit from Kronos Quartet to perform a repertoire spanning five decades. Two South Australian acts – Alexander Flood and Sons of Zoku – also wowed crowds at WOMADelaide with their genre-challenging fusion of ethnic influences.

Sense of Community

Adelaide Festival of Arts is a major celebration of culture that attracts thousands of visitors each March. With opera, theatre, dance, music and visual art on offer, it also houses the four-day world music event WOMADelaide and the literary festival Adelaide Writers’ Week.

Launched in 1960, Australia’s premier festival showcases performances that define and defy their genres. During the festival, the city centre and parklands become a vibrant hub of culture, with audiences enjoying grand operas, breathtaking dance performances and immersive art installations.

The festival has also made a commitment to environmental sustainability and is committed to generating community engagement. This includes ongoing partnerships with Greening Australia and the festival’s own conservation initiatives including the popular discussion forum The Planet Talks, which brings together thinkers, scientists, journalists, writers and communicators from around the globe.

WOMADelaide also features the ever-popular Taste the World, where visitors can get to know many of the festival artists in a relaxed environment with food, stories, singing and dancing. And the kids aren’t forgotten with the family friendly KidZone and nature-play activities.

This year a new venue will be opening to house the festival’s expanding music program. Designed by architect Franck Riboulet, the new venue will host more concerts and also double as an exhibition space, with local artists encouraged to use it as their own canvas.

Sense of Wonder

The Festival fills the warm days and starry nights of late summer with breathtaking works of art. From grand operas to dazzling dance performances, to immersive installations and thought-provoking talks at Adelaide Writers’ Week. Each year the program grows bigger and bolder, yet one essential element remains unchanged: the power to astonish.

From a concert of Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson at the Elder Park Amphitheatre to the National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart at Her Majesty’s Theatre; Dame Judith Anderson performing four classical drama recitals; Marie Collier and Richard Lewis in Sir William Walton’s opera Troilus and Cressida performed by the Australian Ballet; the Salzburg Marionette Theatre’s production of Winter’s Tale and Twelfth Night; and the Royal Shakespeare Company’s productions of As You Like It and Henry V, the Festival brings the finest arts from around the world to South Australia.

Locally renowned performers also deliver a dazzling array of work. From the captivatingly hypnotic sound of Sylvie Guillem at Her Majesty’s to the inventive theatre of Patch Theatre’s The Lighthouse and a fusion of circus, music and film in Gravity and Other Myths by Young Adelaide Voices at the Festival Club, there is something for everyone. The Festival’s pop-up venue, the Summerhouse, presents a series of morning talks and late-night shows, including a line-up of musicians from across Australia at Barrio.