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Love, lust and suffering are closely entwined in the tale of the beautiful Psyche and her lover Eros. Johann Joseph Fux’s baroque opera “Psiche” sets the scene for what is to come: desire in all its forms will be the theme of the performances.

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Styriarte 2021 - Desire

Desire in all its forms

Love, lust and suffering are closely entwined in the tale of the beautiful Psyche and her lover Eros. The story that the ancient poet Apuleius thought up in north Africa in 150 A.D. was transformed by Johann Joseph Fux into his most sensual opera in the year 1720 in Vienna. Alfredo Bernardini conducts Psiche as the opening concert of the styriarte Festival 2021, setting the scene for what is to come: desire in all its forms will be the theme of the performances.

The readings are one tale after another: Eros and Psyche, Beauty and the Beast, The Thousand and One Nights, Bocaccio’s Decamerone. It is always about how easily human beings are deceived by fleshly lust and lusting after what they see. The charlatan in Pergolesi’s Ciarlatano, the other baroque opera in this year’s festival, is also deceived. Adrian Schvarzstein directs both operas and contributes to a third event with his ideas for the stage: the debut of the styriarte Festival Orchestra YOUTH conducted by Andrés Orozco Estrada.

With such a sensual theme, the young naturally have a central role to play: it is not only young singers and chamber musicians who whet the appetite for classical music. Everything about this festival is young and sparkling.

Then there is Jordi Savall, standing out, solid as a rock. In Stainz he merges three magnificent choral works into a baroque Marian vesper. styriarte 2021 lives up to its reputation as a leading festival of early music. But the festival’s excursions into the recent past show what forms our eternal search for satisfaction and pleasure took in the 20th century, going back to the Summer of Love in San Francisco or the golden age of pop hits. In their dreams of desire, humans always live out the unfulfilled longings of their psyche – which brings us back to where we started: to the unhappy princess Psyche.

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