Current Issue #488

The full Adelaide Festival 2019 program is here

The full Adelaide Festival 2019 program is here

Nature-inspired collaborations and some confronting home truths feature among a sprawling 2019 Adelaide Festival of Arts program.

For their third tilt at the festival, co-directors Rachel Healy and Neal Armfield have enlisted the Adelaide Festival Orchestra for a free opening weekend concert at Elder Park that dives into the deep and frequently breathtaking archives of National Geographic in a five part symphonic tribute to the natural world.

The opening weekend will also see Paul Kelly, James Ledger, Alice Keath and South Australian trio Seraphim (Anna Goldsworthy, Helen Ayres and Tim Nankervis) collaborate on specially commissioned song cycle Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds on March 1 -2. The internationally renowned Mahler Chamber Orchestra have also been lured to Adelaide for two programs on March 8 and 9, respectively covering Mozart’s Last Symphonies and a Schubert and Bruckner double header.

Johan Inger’s Carmen, photo: Jesús Fallinas

Swedish choreographer Johan Inger’s Carmen will make its Australian premiere on March 8, performed by the Dresden-based Semperoper Ballet. Inger’s take on Prosper Mérimée 1845 story, an iconic entry in the Spanish canon, won the Prix Benois de la Danse upon its 2015 debut in Madrid. Another exclusive dance work comes in Un Poyo Rojo, an irreverent skewering of masculinity that sees performers Luciano Rosso and Alfonso Barón combines dance, ballet, modern dance and a bit of biff.

Offering a more intimate twist on the festival’s historic fondness for revelatory endurance works (see: the James plays, Roman Tragedies), Nat Randall and Anna Breckon’s The Second Woman looks poised to be a word-of-mouth hit. Performed for only the fifth time, the 24 hour blend of film and live performance sees a woman, Virginia, encounter a man named Marty over and over – with 100 different men playing Marty across the day.

The Second Woman, photo: Heidrun Lohr
The Second Woman, photo: Heidrun Lohr

Joining a visual arts program that includes the Art Gallery of South Australia’s alread-announced Ben Quilty retrospective Quilty, Sally Smart‘s The Violet Ballet will bring a vividly colourful installation incorporating textiles, dance, shadow puppetry and film to ACE Open. Also in the West End, the Anne & Gordon Samstag Museum of Art will host Adelaide // International, a series of solo exhibitions including Australia’s Eugenia Lim. Another curious addition comes in Dutch artist Julian Hetzel’s Schuldfabrik, a “pop up store” in a mystery location selling bars of soap made from human fat.

Sally Smart’s The Violet Ballet, photo: Jeff Busby

With a recurring theme of migration and displacement in the program, director Nazanin Sahamizadeh‘s Manus will bring the human toll of our offshore detention regime to the stage with an arresting performance based on the words of Iranian asylum seekers currently detained on Manus Island and Nauru – including detained journalist and author Behrouz Boochani.

The festival’s waterside musical offerings at The Palais continue with US pop weirdos They Might Be Giants, Dinosaur Jr. frontman J. Mascis and a Nick Cave tribute from Camille O’Sullivan. Australian songwriters Sarah Blasko and Megan Washington will also grace the Torrens, along with Augie March, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, The Paper Kites and improv kings The Necks. Emma Donovan and the Putbacks will pay tribute to the late Ruby Hunter, the Ngarrindjeri singer/songwriter whose landmark songbook includes husband and collaborator Archie Roach’s 1990 hit Down City Streets.

The festival will head to the hills for the ambitious series A Brief History of time: Chamber Landscapes at UKARIA Cultural Centre in Mount barker. Curated by Genevieve Lacey, these eleven performances will showcase artists from Arnhem Land to Italy, including Emily Wurramara, Yirrmal Marika, Alice Skye, Richard Tognetti and Norway’s Trio Mediaeval.

Yesterday’s full program reveal joins the festival’s already-announced centrepiece in Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky’s reworking of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, an Angelique Kidjo-headlined WOMADelaide 2019 and songwriter-comedian Tim Minchin’s Back – which has already sold out.

The program for Adelaide Writers’ Week 2019, featuring Ben Okri, Germaine Greer and Bob Carr, was also revealed in the announcement.

Adelaide Festival runs from Friday, March 1 to Sunday, March 17

View the full program at

Header image:
Australian Ugliness, Eugenia Lim (photo: Tom Ross)

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