June 24 to July 24 2022
They actually had everything they needed in Africa. We do not know why, over a million years ago, homo erectus, the ancestor of modern humans, set off to travel the world and settle in other places. Some anthropologists cite the wish “to go somewhere other than where one is” as one of the most distinctive of human characteristics. It is in our nature to want to discover the unknown, to travel. Only when we travel do we start to understand that the customs, rules and language we call our own represent only a small part of human behaviour and that there are unbelievably more options in the world.
“Travels”, the Styriarte 2022 programme, opens up this vista of opportunities. The starting point is a rare opera by the great Styrian baroque composer Johann Joseph Fux. His “Arianna” takes us to the island of Naxos, identified as a premium holiday destination long before our day. Past master of early music, Jordi Savall, also follows the itinerary of Ariadne. Savall also tells of the travels of the Berber Ibn Battuta, who travelled the length and breadth of the Islamic world in the 14th century and wrote fascinating reports about his experiences.
But we are not always educated or elated by travel: in these times of overtourism and flight shame, travel has its dark sides. In acknowledgement of this, the Styriarte has a series of concerts focussing on the bicycle; pedalling to destinations like Buenos Aires and New York is good for us as well as the environment.
The programme puts special focus on the great composers and their travels: whether it was Franz Liszt going on a pilgrimage, Schubert wandering with a young miller, Mozart setting off for London or Fanny Mendelssohn for Italy, it was always a reason for outstanding music. Also, we see that summer holiday resorts can provide material for quite strident social criticism in Sandy Lopicic’s new take on the satirical operetta “White Horse Inn” and Michael Hell and Ārt House 17’s queer interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Leipzig café garden comedy “Coffee Cantata”.