Festival Recalls Best Of the Past 50 Years

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

This year's Edinburgh Festival celebrates its 50 previous festivals in several ways. A number of performances re-create works previously commissioned and/or premired:

* Verdi's "Macbeth" (concert performance), the first opera performed at the first festival.

* Richard Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos," performed as first intended as a divertissement to an abridged "Bourgeois Gentilhomme" (Molire). The 1950 festival version was conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham.

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* T.S. Eliot's "The Cocktail Party," which had its world premire at the 1949 festival.

* Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis," which has been performed at several previous festivals.

* Also recalling earlier programs are a survey of J.S. Bach's organ works and a series of archive recordings of outstanding performances from festivals in the 1950s and '60s.

The festival takes over Edinburgh each year not only with the official arts program but also with a vast "Fringe" of performances by professionals, amateurs, students, children, stand-up comics, and ad hoc street performers.

Also vying for audiences are a film festival, a jazz and blues festival, a book festival, many art exhibitions, a military tattoo event, and a fireworks concert.

* The Edinburgh International Festival ends Aug. 30. For more information, visit the Web site at www.go-edinburgh.co.uk

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