Mills’ off key
I attended the Edinburgh International Festival launch on Tuesday (your report, 13 March) and challenged Jonathan Mills, the Festival director, on his failure in opera.
This year the Festival will have the smallest number of operas (three) since it began back in the 1940s, and none of the great operatic composers such as Wagner, Verdi and Britten, whose centennials or bicentennials are being celebrated this year, are represented at the Festival. Mr Mills’ answer was extraordinary. He said by the summer everyone will have had too much of these great composers and instead, under Mr Mills, we will get Fidelio in a spaceship and Lulu set in the deep south of the USA plus a “visually arresting double bill of Bartok and Purcell”.
Anyway, he says the Edinburgh Festival has never really been about opera, something the previous director, Brian McMaster, CBE, might be surprised about since he used to give us up to a dozen operas with some of the best singers in the world.
Two years ago Tim Ashley, the Guardian’s opera critic, said: “Edinburgh can no longer claim to be a festival of international standard as far as opera is concerned.” Mr Mills’ festival programme for 2013 confirms this. The good news is that next year’s Festival is Mr Mills’ last.