Festival sets the stage for return of hit Spanish act

THE Spanish company behind one of the biggest hits in the recent history of the Edinburgh International Festival is to return for three weeks next year.

The 1997 show Blinded by Love was so popular it sold out even after organisers doubled the available seating.

La Cubana, which staged the show, is returning next summer with Nuts CocoNuts, an English-language version of a successful show from the group’s creative director, Jordi Milan.

The live performance was among acts announced yesterday as due to appear at the 2005 Festival - although the full programme will not be issued until March and bookings do not open until 2 April.

The Festival organisers promised some of the world’s great orchestras, talented young choreographers and a range of big names from music, opera, dance and theatre - including a planned showcase of Japanese Noh theatre.

Nuts CocoNuts is an adaptation of the show Comeme el Coco Negro, which premired in Spain in 1989. It became one of the company’s most popular productions, touring the Iberian peninsula with huge success for two years and winning a string of awards.

It tells the story of the Variety Theatre Company of Gibraltar, presenting a show of magic, music and comedy. Besotted with Paris, they set out to be Gibraltar’s answer to the Moulin Rouge.

The 2005 Festival will run from the opening concert at the Usher Hall on Sunday, 14 August, to the Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert on Sunday, 4 September.

Sir Brian McMaster, director of the Festival, said: "We hope by announcing key dates now people can begin to make their plans or simply make a note in their diaries."

Sir Brian was known to have been keen to see La Cubana return, and observers said the show would be a hot ticket.

The expected line-up includes the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, from the state of Bavaria, which was founded by musicians who washed up in the city as refugees after the Second World War. It has been led since 1990 by the celebrated English conductor Jonathan Nott. Its programme is likely to include Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto played by Jrg Widmann, Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony and Bruckner’s ninth symphony.

Also due to play is the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1930, which was the official orchestra of the Soviet Radio Network and is now the best-known radio orchestra in Russia.

The Rotterdam Symphony Orchestra is also expected to be in the 2005 Festival’s line-up.

There has been talk of the revived Scottish Ballet returning to the Edinburgh International Festival next summer. The group said yesterday it was still in talks with organisers.

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