Soooo big.

Words by

Gloria Brancatisano

The 2016 Melbourne Festival lineup has landed, bringing some of the world's most innovative and brilliant examples of visual art, live music, dance, theatre and performance right to our doorstep. 

The festival will open with a free, open-air event from one of the world’s most renowned street theatre companies, Catalan’s Deabru Beltzak. Across three nights, they will wreak havoc throughout the CBD with Les Tambours De Feu, bringing fountains of fire to the city. 

In another capstone event, some of Australia's finest musicians will come together in an extraordinary tribute to the iconic David Bowie. Iota, Tim Rogers, Steve Kilbey, Deborah Conway and Adalita will join the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra to celebrate one of the most influential artists of all time in David Bowie: Nothing Has Changed. The performance will feature over 30 of Bowie's greatest songs including Changes, China Girl, Life On Mars, and Under Pressure.

Paul Kelly will team up with Irish-French singer/songwriter Camille O’Sullivan to pay tribute to the words and poetry of W.B Yeats, as well as other great Irish poets of the past century in the world premiere of Ancient Rain. Together, they'll be combing spoken word with a song-cycle of original compositions, inspired by a century of Irish writing. 

Canada's Le Patin Libre will be re-imagining the world of ice-skating with a combination of street dance and contemporary movement in the Australian premiere of their show, Vertical Influences. The performance is a sparkle-free zone, with the group's five performers swapping sequins and scorecards for adrenaline-pumping athletics and theatrical sophistication.

On the other end of the dance spectrum, Spain's reigning flamenco queen Sara Baras will take the stage at Hamer Hall to pay tribute to the flamenco luminaries who have greatly influenced her work. Beginning with a theatrically driven warm-up scene, the 15-strong company will move through a series of vignettes inspired by the likes of Paco de Lucia, Camarón de la Isla and Antonio Gades, wrapping things up with a fiery freestyle finale.

Saxophonist Joshua Redman and virtuoso pianist Brad Mehldau will reunite for the first time on Australian soil in five years. The pair have are no strangers to sharing the stage, first performing together in their early days of Redman’s quartet back in 1993. Stripped back from the confines of a larger ensemble, Mehldau and Redman will be free to follow each idea as it comes to spontaneous fruition.

Off the back of her latest album, Blank Page, Lisa Gerrard will perform works from her acclaimed 35-year career, including songs from Dead Can Dance, music from her major film scores and tracks from throughout her solo output. She will be joined onstage by some of her long-time creative associates including Astrid Williams, David Kuckhermann, and Gabriella Smart.

In their very first visit to Melbourne, the illustrious National Theatre of Scotland will present Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour - a hit play about schoolgirls, singing, sex and Sambuca. Adapted from Alan Warner’s cult Scottish novel The Sopranos, Our Ladies tell the story of six Catholic schoolgirls who travel to Edinburgh for a choral competition, but get caught up in a world of love, lust, pregnancy and death.

Further theatre highlights include The Money - an interactive piece that forces the audience to unanimously agree on the appropriate way to spend a table topped with cold hard cash - as well as the Australian premiere of War and Peace from artistic renegades The Gob Squad. Elsewhere, legendary Canadian theatre director, playwright and pioneer of the stage, Robert Lepage comes to Melbourne Festival with the Australian premiere of 887, while Backstage in Biscuit Land takes a tender look at neurodiversity and inclusion. Funeral celebrates death with a closely guarded secret while Lady Eats Apple goes back to Adam and Eve in a world premiere from Back to Back Theatre. 

Rounding out the epic program comes the return of Melbourne Art Trams, a double bill of light and sound in Robbie Thomson: XFRMR / MESS: Live, the meeting of five clans of the Kulin nation in Tanderrumand much, much more. 

The 2016 Melbourne Festival will take place from Thursday October 6 until Sunday October 23 in venues throughout the city. Head to their site for bookings and full program details

This article originally appeared on Beat Magazine 

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