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Shakespeare and American drama to feature in 2016 Edinburgh International Festival

Bellini's opera Norma is one of the first productions announced for the 2016 festival. Photo: Hans Jorg Michel
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Great American writers and Shakespeare will be the subjects of two theatre seasons that will run at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2016.

The seasons are among the first plans revealed about next year’s event, which will also include Bellini’s opera Norma, starring Cecilia Bartoli.

Announcing the plans, festival director Fergus Linehan said each theatre season will contain “a core of three or four productions”, adding that he hoped they would be major projects.

He added: “I am interested in American theatre because in the festival context our idea of American theatre has been very much about American directors such as Robert Wilson or the Wooster Group, but I think some of those big core pieces by major writers are really interesting to investigate as well.”

Italian mezzo soprano Bartoli will be reprising her role in the Saltzberg Festival production of Norma, in which she sings the title role. It will run from August 5 to 9 – the only UK dates for the opera, which has been re-imagined by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser.

Linehan confirmed that he would continue to use the EIF as a platform to revisit Scottish productions that have not had a wider performances, but said that the number of such revivals would depend on what is available.

Noting that one of the successes of his inaugural year in charge was in modern music, Linehan said that a focus in this area for next year will be around Scottish performers collaborating with other artists and internationally.

There will be screenings of Mark Cousin’s film Atomic, with Scottish band Mogwai performing their score live. In another project, Flit, Martin Green of Lau will collaborate with animation company White Robot.

Linehan also said he was actively thinking about how to create a new large event to mark the opening of the EIF and the Edinburgh festival season.

The only other date confirmed is the closing concert, which will be Donald Runnicles’ last concert as chief conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. The Festival Chorus will be augmented to 200 members for a performance of Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder.

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