‘It is quite incredible to think that the festival has been a central part of Norwegian cultural life since the middle of the last century. We look forward to celebrating a very vibrant 70-year-old this spring, says Nina Skage, acting managing director of the Bergen International Festival.

The 70th Bergen International Festival opens in Grieghallen on 25 May with the world premiere of the symphonic version of Taylor Mac’s performance A 24-decade history of popular music, together with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Among the many classical highlights are two of Norway’s biggest stars, soprano Lise Davidsen and pianist Leif Ove Andsnes. Andsnes will also host the festival’s outdoor opening ceremony and perform a concert with the Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin. The classical programme also includes opera, a closing concert with Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minorworld premieres and international and Norwegian artists.

‘The theme for this year’s festival is “essence”. When the first Bergen International Festival was held in 1953, building bridges between countries and people was a primary focus after the war. Creating new connections, seeing old works in new ways and getting people both behind, on and in front of the stage to talk to each other has been part of the essence and idea behind the festival since the very beginning, says chief programming officer Tonje E. Peersen.

With the help of a number of partners among Norwegian and international cultural organisations, about 40 events for the 2022 Bergen International Festival have now been launched. The festival will also include several world premieres, including co-productions with Den Nationale SceneCarte Blanche (pictured), BIT Teatergarasjen and several European theatres.

‘The Bergen International Festival is a hub on the international art scene. In close collaboration with many Norwegian and international partners, we offer a marvellous cultural picnic just when spring is at its most beautiful. We are proud of this year’s programme and of all the people, ensembles and institutions that contribute to creating 15 consecutive days of unique experiences, says Peersen.

Due to the pandemic, some of the 2022 events have been postponed since May 2020. Acting managing director Nina Skage hopes the pandemic will have a limited impact on this year’s festival.

‘It will be wonderful to finally welcome these long-awaited artists to Bergen. Of course, we are keeping a close eye on the pandemic’s development, and we are all keeping our fingers crossed that this year’s festival can be carried out as planned, with full houses and many international guests, says Skage.

The final part of the programme will be launched later this winter. Tickets for The Morning Star and Little Eyolf at Den Nationale Scene are now for sale, and all other tickets will go on sale in March.

Facts / The Bergen International Festival (Festspillene i Bergen)

·        The 70th Bergen International Festival takes place from 25 May to 8 June 2022.

·        The festival is the flagship among Scandinavia’s music and performing arts festivals.

·        Known for its new music, opera, theatre and dance productions, world premieres and excellent programme diversity, it has established itself as a hub for the northern European arts scene.

·        Unique arenas such as the composer Edvard Grieg’s home and the 750-year-old royal residence Håkonshallen form a historical framework around the festival.

·        Each year, the festival presents hundreds of dynamic and exploratory arts experiences on dozens of outdoor and indoor stages.

·        The first Bergen International Festival was held in 1953.

Photo above: Carte Blanche, Carte Blanche, Norway’s national company of contemporary dance, will present the world premiere of a double performance called mellomland at the 2022 Festival. Photo: Sjur Pollen