Festival d'Aix en Provence
Under idyllic Provençal skies, this scenic town, popular with some of the world's greatest artists, thrills audiences with its ever-evolving opera repertoire.
Aix's opera festival, held annually in July, celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2008. Its focus has varied over the years according to the director; since 1998, under Stéphane Lissner, it has commissioned several new operas and featured world-class classical concerts too, most notably the Berlin Philharmonic playing Mahler's 5th Symphony, and Pierre Boulez both conducting and playing the piano.
Among the various venues are the outdoor Théâtre de l'Archevêché, the restored courtyard of the former archbishop's palace, and the more intimate Hôtel Maynier d'Oppède. In 2007 the opening of the Grand Théâtre de Provence made it possible for attendance to increase by more than a third, to more than 80,000 people. The Académie Européenne de Musique, a summer school associated with the festival, hosts masterclasses for young talent by renowned musicians.
When you feel like taking a break from the music, explore the famous Cours Mirabeau, an avenue lined with pavement cafés and bookshops. In the height of the summer plane trees provide welcome shade.
Some of the highlights of the 2013 programme include: Don Giovanni, Elena, Elektra and Romeo and Juliet.