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What to see at Temporada Alta 2016

Dance, theatre, music and more. Girona's autumn arts festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with a stunning line-up of performances
Equal Elevations
Equal Elevations
By Aída Pallarès and Andreu Gomila |

Temporada Alta is marking its first quarter century. And to celebrate the occasion, they've put together an outstanding programme of events. From numerous new works by leading Catalan theatre directors and dance companies like Álex Rigola, Oriol Broggi and La Veronal to international productions by Guy Cassiers, Alain Platel and Oskaras Korsunovas, you can also catch the likes of Rufus Wainwright, Jorge Drexler and Paul Fuster in concert. 

Andrea Motis
Music, Jazz

Music: Andrea Motis and Joan Chamorro

These up-and-comers on the Catalan jazz scene are fearless. Three years after uniting the sound of the traditional Catalan 'cobla' sound with swing and the words of some of Catalonia's most prestigious poets, Andrea Motis and Joan Chamorro return to Temporada Alta. Accompanied by the musicians Josep Traver, Ignasi Terraza and Esteve Pi, they are presenting their new album, recorded on the Impulse! label, the same record company as the iconic John Coltrane. Don't miss your opportunity to enjoy the explosive combination of Motis's talent, youth and hypnotic voice with the experience of the maestro Chamorro. This will be a night of jazz, swing and bossa nova.


Theatre: Battlefield

Veteran British theatre director Peter Brook is a regular at Girona's autumn Temporada Alta festival, and this year he returns with a revival of one of his most mythical works. Thirty years ago, Brook staged a nine-hour version of the epic Indian poem 'Mahabharata' (it was the inaugural performance at what is now Barcelona's main dance venue, Mercat de les Flors, in 1985), and an icon of 20th-century theatre was created. Here the director has imagined a more essential and intense version (it lasts just over an hour) that responds to questions about our existence. Don't miss your chance to see how a theatre great re-creates one of his most emblematic productions.

Equal Elevations
Dance, Contemporary and experimental

Dance: Equal Elevations

The Catalan dance company of La Veronal, founded by Marcos Morau, goes back a long way with Temporada Alta. This year they present a short piece that was created for Madrid's Museu Reina Sofía. It features a conversation with the sculpture by artist Richard Serra, 'Equal-Parallel: Guernica-Bengasi', a work about the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War and the 1986 attack on the Libyan town of Benghazi by the US air force. It's a performance of dance, sculpture, movement and weight with music by Steve Reich, a personal friend of Serra.

Sweet Fever

Dance: Sweet Fever

A world of coloured lights, mirrored balls and music by the Bee Gees. 'Night Fever' specifically. This is 'Saturday Night Fever'. Choreographer and dancer Pere Faura has been inspired by the John Travolta movie to re-create the famous moves seen on-screen but in a live context, celebrating the freeing pleasure of dancing, whether it be in a disco or on stage. Faura, as he proved in 'Sin baile no hay paraíso' (a work presented at Temporada Alta two years ago; the name means 'Without dance there's no heaven') likes exploring dance that's contained in the popular memory. Here he reflects on the glorious decade of disco music, repeating almost ad infinitum the steps of his icon.

Les Benignes
© Kurt van der Elst
Theatre, Drama

Theatre: De welwillenden

If there's a novel that has already marked an era in the 21st century it is, without doubt, 'The Kindly Ones' (originally published in French as 'Les Bienveillants') by US author Jonathan Littell. It's the story of a Nazi official who, as if he was writing his memoirs, relates everything that he saw and did during the Second World War. Max Aue is a normal man who doesn't regret anything. A regular man who saw the horror and was part of it. Guy Cassiers, one of the most prestigious directors in Europe and already well-known to Temporada Alta audiences, has adapted, together with Dutch company Toneelgroep d'Ivo van Hove, and the Flemish Toneelhuis (both prestigious organisations in their own right), a great book.

(In Dutch with Catalan and English subtitles.)

Paul Fuster
Music, Rock and indie

Music: Paul Fuster

Unpredictable, unorthodox and two great passions: for writing songs and making bicycles. Paul Fuster is a US singer-songwriter who has Catalan roots; he has one foot in New York and the other in the central Catalan town of Cardona. Following four years of silence, the musician returns with a new record, 'Go/Between'. It's a raw project, direct and honest where you can hear the harmony between the guitars that Fuster himself has made, using wood, washing-machines, car bonets and steel. It's also the portrait of a man who has left everything behind and started again without filters or tricks. Paul Fuster has the ability to convert any improvised melody into an instant classic, and he'll doubtless prove it once more here.

Nicht schlafen
© Chris Van der Burght

Dance: Nicht Schlafen

Alain Platel is one of the great European dance geniuses. At the head of his company Les Ballets C de la B, he invented a new way of approaching dance. Here at Temporada Alta, he's presenting us with this production based on work by Gustav Mahler which features a prophesy by the Austrian composer: 'My time is coming'. This vision is transformed into a large-scale setting about the turbulent early years of the 20th century that ended with the horror of the First World War.

Jorge Drexler

Music: Jorge Drexler

Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler is one of the protagonists of this edition of the Temporada Alta festival.  Drexler is, without doubt, one of the most important and established Latin American singer-songwriters of recent times. He has some 15 albums under his arm, a pile of awards (including an Oscar for the song 'Al otro lado del río' from the film 'The Motorcycle Diaries' and various Grammys), and an almost endless list of artists who have recorded his songs: Mercedes Sosa, Caetano Veloso, Joaquín Sabina and Shakira, to name but a few. At the festival he'll perform a selection of music from across his career, including songs from his latest record ('Bailar en la cueva') plus classics such as 'Todo se transforma' and 'La trama y el desenlace'. This show will include musical and theatrical experimentation with Drexler seeking to form a relationship with the audience through a lot of improvisation.

Yo, Carmen

Dance: Yo, Carmen

María Pagés is unique in combining respect for the roots of flamenco dance with a very personal contemporary outlook. She demonstrated it in her partnership with the great Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, and again in her solo piece, 'Óyeme con los ojos' ('Listen to me with your eyes'); and now again in the company of an all-woman cast. Her yearning for purity is reflected through the myth of Carmen, the gypsy worker converted by Merimée into a romantic cliché. In 'Yo, Carmen' ('I, Carmen'), the 'bailaora' argues for a woman who can express her desires and passions without fear. A free woman.

Rufus Wainwright
© Rainer Hosch
Music, Folk, country and blues

Music: Rufus Wainwright

He is, according to Elton John, the best singer-songwriter on the planet. Rufus Wainwright, the son of folk singers Loudon Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle, is a complete performer: at six he could play the piano, at 12 he went on tour with his mother's group, at 14 he starred in the film 'Tommy Tricker', and at 25 was chosen as the best artist of the year by 'Rolling Stone' magazine. His concert here at Temporada Alta will be acoustic and take in both some of his biggest hits such as 'Hallelujah' and songs from his latest album, 'Sonnets', which is dedicated to the work of Shakespeare. This unique show will bring together opera with Broadway musicals, cabaret and folk, pop and glam-rock.

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