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There are 85 worldwide (ACOCO's is the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere!)

Salzburg Festival, Austria

Contemporary opera festivals have emerged as vibrant hubs for innovation and creativity, pushing the boundaries of what opera can be. These festivals showcase new works, experimental productions, and diverse voices from around the world. If you're a lover of the arts or simply looking to explore something new, here are 10 must-see international contemporary opera festivals that are redefining the genre. If you can't travel to be there in person - catch leading international productions at ACOCO in summer on the Mornington Peninsula from 2025!

In no particular order:

1. Aix-en-Provence (France)

Located in the picturesque town of Aix-en-Provence, this festival has been at the forefront of contemporary opera for decades. It's renowned for its commitment to commissioning and staging new works by both established and emerging composers. The stunning outdoor performances in the Théâtre de l'Archevêché add to the magical experience.

2. Salzburg Festival (Austria)

Nestled in the Austrian Alps, the Salzburg Festival is world-renowned for its opulent productions and showcases both classic and contemporary operas in the city where Mozart was born.

3. Glyndebourne Festival Opera (UK)

Set in a picturesque English countryside estate, Glyndebourne offers high-quality opera productions in a charming and intimate setting. It's known for its commitment to fostering young talent.

4. Bregenz Festival (Austria)

The Bregenz Festival is famous for its iconic floating stage on Lake Constance. While it traditionally features classic operas, it also dedicates time to contemporary and experimental productions. The stunning backdrop of the lake and the Alps makes every performance a visual feast.

5. Santa Fe Opera (USA)

Nestled in the stunning landscapes of New Mexico, Santa Fe Opera has a rich tradition of staging contemporary and American operas. Its striking open-air theater offers a unique experience, and the festival frequently collaborates with prominent composers to bring new works to life.

6. Bayreuth Festival (Germany)

Wagner enthusiasts must make a pilgrimage to Bayreuth. This festival is dedicated exclusively to Richard Wagner's works and is held in a theatre designed by the composer himself. Increasingly, the productions are updated by leading contemporary stage directors: often weird, whacky and utterly engrossing.

7. Opera Holland Park (UK)

This London-based festival is celebrated for its accessible productions set in the beautiful surroundings of Holland Park. It's an excellent choice for opera newcomers.

8. Prototype Festival (USA)

Prototype is a leading festival for contemporary opera and music theater in New York City, showcasing cutting-edge works that challenge traditional boundaries. A breeding ground for composers and librettists, led by powerhouse Founder/Producer Beth Morrison.

9. Munich Biennale (Germany)

Munich Biennale is dedicated exclusively to contemporary music theatre, including opera. It serves as a platform for emerging composers and directors, making it an essential destination for those interested in cutting-edge opera productions.

10. Holland Festival (Netherlands)

The Holland Festival in Amsterdam is a leading platform for contemporary opera and interdisciplinary productions. It consistently presents groundbreaking works that challenge conventional notions of opera, often blending it with other art forms such as dance, theatre and visual arts.

And, naturally, our particular favourite:

Coming soon:

ACOCO Festival (Australia)

Australian Contemporary Opera Co interational festival of contemporary opera and song. 10 days on the spectacular Mornington Peninsula.

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Australian premiere: The Handmaid's Tale by Sir Poul Ruders & Paul Bentley ACOCO Yarra Valley 2019



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