Edinburgh International Festival 2013: Highlights

THE Scotsman’s Arts Correspondent, Brian Ferguson selects some of the highlights from this year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

Leaving Planet Earth: One of the EIF’s most ambitious shows to date will unfold in the spectaclar surroundings of the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena at Ratho, near Edinburgh Airport. Grid Iron, which staged the acclaimed play Roam inside the airport in 2006, promise to whisk ticketholders off to another world entirely this time.

City Noir: US composer John Adams was influenced by big-band jazz and the movies of David Lynch for his piece about California, while fellow American Tod Machover wants to crowdsource “sounds and impresssions” of Edinburgh to help shape a brand new work.

Fidelio: American video artist Gary Hill will re-stage Beethoven’s only opera in space, for the brand new Opera de Lyon production, set aboard a doomed spacecraft and featuring the director’s own striking video projections.

American Lulu: A former Hollywood beauty queen-turned-soprano, Angel Blue, has the starring role in a new “jazz-inspired” version of Alban Berg’s unfinished opera Lulu - now reset at the height of the American civil rights struggle, and jointly staged by Scottish Opera and The Opera Group.

Dance Odysseys: An entire mini dance festival, masterminded by Scottish Ballet, willl feature a programme of gala world premieres, on-stage promenade performances, film screenings and talks.

Hamlet: New York theatre company The Wooster Group will be deploying acclaimed stage and screen star Richard Burton in their performance of the Shakespeare classic - almost 30 years after his death. Film footage from his iconic Broadway performance from 1964 will merge with live performances.

L.A. Dance Project: Benjamin Millepied, the founder of Hollywood’s first contemporary dance company, brings them to the UK for the first time. He formed the outfit in the wake of the huge success of the film Black Swan, which he both choreographed and starred in with his now wife, Natalie Portman.

The Tragedy of Coriolanus: The European premiere of a brand new version of Shakespeare’s classic by the Beijing People’s Art Theatre will feature one of China’s best-known actors, Pu Cunxin, and two of its most popular heavy metal outfits - Miserable Faith and Suffocated.

Beckett at the Festival: Two of Ireland’s best-known theatre companies, Pan Pan and The Gate, take centre stage in nine days of shows devoted to the novelist, playwright and theatre director’s work.

Ensemble musikFabrik: The German contemporary music group present their take on the music of maverick American rock composer, singer and guitarist Frank Zappa, as well as compositions by Zappa’s own musical hero, Edgard Varese, and John Cage.

The Poet Speaks: New York’s punk rock icon Patti Smith and “father of minimalism” Philip Glass, the American composer and pianist, present an evening devoted to the work of Beat Generation poet Allen Ginsberg, who shot to fame in the 1950s with works like “Howl.”

Leonardo da Vinci - The Mechanics of Man: The iconic Renaissance artist’s studies of the human body drew huge crowds to Buckingham Palace last year when it went on display for the first time in almost 400 years. Now 30 sheets of his work, each crammed with studies and notes, will go on display alongside modern-day images prepared using the latest technology to allow people to compare them.