Festspiele Zürich

Festspiele Zürich
Photo: festspiele-zuerich.ch
Festspiele Zürich is a biennial summertime cultural festival held in Switzerland’s largest city, Zürich. The event is co-hosted by the city’s largest cultural institutions including the Zürich Opera House, the Schauspielhaus Zürich theatre, the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and the Kunsthaus Zürich art museum. Other institutions, including the Rietberg Museum, the Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Theater Neumarkt and Theater Rigiblick, are regularly involved in the event.

Festspiele Zürich (the Zürich Festival), formerly known as Zürcher Festspiele, was founded in 1996 as a successor to Juni-Festwochen Zürich (Zürich June Festival Weeks), a cultural festival that was held in the city from 1921 to 1993. The co-founder and the first artistic director of the festival was Alexander Pereira, the then-director of the Zürich Opera House. Since 2011, the festival has been run by Elmar Weingarten, the director of the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich.

Under Weingarten’s direction, the festival was re-branded and received its current name to emphasize the cooperation of the four major cultural institutions that host the event. Since 2013, each edition of the festival has had a theme and a curator who works closely with the artistic committee and participating institutions to present the theme through the content and programming. Past themes have included “Dada – between madness and nonsense”, “Money makes love – Shakespeare and other powers”, “Prometheus – unleashing the forces”, “Greenhouse Wagner”, “Beauty / Madness”, and others.

Festspiele Zürich runs for three weeks in June, drawing around 100,000 attendees each year. It offers a platform for cultural institutions and performing artists that want to contribute to the city’s rich cultural life. The program includes opera, drama, music concerts (from classical music to jazz), dance, exhibitions, readings, discussions, and more. Some events require admission and take place at the participating institutions, but there are plenty of free open-air events held throughout the city. For example, operatic performances at the Zürich Opera House are broadcast at Sechseläutenplatz (the city’s largest town square).

Every year, Festspiele Zürich presents the Zurich Festival Prize (Zürcher Festspielpreis) to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the culture of Zürich through outstanding artistic achievements. Past recipients have included oboist, composer and conductor Heinz Holliger, author Peter von Matt, theatre and film director Luc Bondy, theatre and opera director Peter Stein, composer and pianist György Kurtág, operatic singer Matti Salminen, singer-songwriter Sophie Hunger, and others.

Festspiele Zürich




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