On March 11th and May 5th, Timothée Picard, Artistic Advisor and Dramaturge of the Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, talked with Kent Nagano, conductor of the world premiere of Il Viaggio, Dante by Pascal Dusapin, performed from July 8th to 17th in Aix-en-Provence. Extract from the interview:
— TIMOTHÉE PICARD: This year marks your return to the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. What is your vision of the Festival and the place it holds in contemporary creation?
— KENT NAGANO: My feeling about the Festival is that it is an integral part of the idea of a festival. […] Today the idea of a festival has been globalized: you see festivals everywhere. And the reason why Aix is so important, being the original, is that you can really see, through the tradition and the history of Aix-en-Provence, why the idea of a festival came to be. It is really not about marketing or gathering well known artists. All of this is important, of course, but that was not the reason of the foundation of the festival. The idea was to offer the public a chance to interact and experience repertoire in a completely different context than usual. And as we know, a different context brings different perspectives and a different understanding as well. So, at the Festival d’Aix, you were able to see Mozart operas, for instance, but not in a typical opera house; you were taken out of the daily routine and put into the context of nature, in outdoor theatres. This allows you to deepen your relationship with certain works that you thought were familiar. And this is something that is so important and so essential, that we have seen a lot of imitations ever since. But being the first, the original, there is no replacement for it. And that is why I feel the Festival d’Aix is so special and will always be special. In our globalized world, we tend to think that everything is consumer-oriented, that we can buy whatever we want. But you cannot purchase the status of being the original. So, I think from that point of view, the historical position of Aix still exerts a tremendous influence on what all of the other festivals try to do. To me, it forms a big responsibility because people will look towards Aix, towards the original form, to define their identity and know what their future should look like. In short, why do we have festivals? Aix is the answer. How should a festival be in our 21st century? Aix is the answer.