The 17-day program features 71 events spanning music, dance, film and visual art, including nine world premieres and six Australian premieres.

Organisers said this morning a total of 55,630 tickets have been issued so far (including for free events), generating revenue of $3,972,333 – 92 per cent of the 2022 box office target.

Joint artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy – who are presenting their sixth Adelaide Festival – said it was “no mean feat” keeping an international arts festival flourishing during a global pandemic.

“If delivering 2021 was difficult, 2022 has been Herculean,” the pair said in a statement.

“Given the absence of live streaming in the program, and the wonderful presence of large companies of European and African artists in the city right now, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Adelaide Festival had ‘bounced back’ to normal. But all the meticulous planning for this event took place at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and chaos, in Australia as much as the performers’ home countries.”

Nonetheless, Armfield and Healy – who is unable to attend opening weekend events herself after being forced into isolation because her son tested positive for COVID-19 – promised Adelaideans they have “an extraordinary festival on a grand international scale to relish and be proud of”.

Around 7500 people will flock to Adelaide Oval’s Village Green tomorrow night for the fully booked free opening night spectacular Macro, featuring a 30-strong acrobatic troupe from Gravity & Other Myths, the Djuki Mala dancers, and Scottish musicians.

Other opening weekend highlights include operatic centrepiece The Golden Cockerel, directed by Barrie Kosky, and contemporary dance double bill The Rite of Spring / common ground[s], performed by 30 dancers from 14 nations across the African continent. Despite the release of extra seats this week, performances of both shows have either sold out or almost sold out.

A number of Adelaide Festival classical performances at UKARIA Cultural Centre and contemporary music gigs in pop-up Festival hub The Summerhouse have also sold out, and limited tickets are left for other several other shows such as UK dance-theatre piece Juliet and Romeo and State Theatre’s Girls & Boys. Strong demand has seen an extra session added for the world premiere of the oratorio Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan, which opened last night at the Dunstan Playhouse.

This is the second Adelaide Festival presented in the midst of the ongoing challenges faced by the pandemic. The 2021 Festival comprised a program of almost entirely Australian artists with some international livestreamed events, and achieved a total box office income of $3.93 million.

When they announced their 2022 program in October, Healy and Armfield said they had planned it based on a “worst-case scenario”, with all the international artists prepared to quarantine for 14 days if necessary. Patrons aged 16 and over (or 12 and over for events at Adelaide Oval) must also show proof of COVID-19 double vaccination.

The Festival encompasses Adelaide Writers’ Week, starting tomorrow in the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden; the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, opening today at the Art Gallery of South Australia, and WOMADelaide, which runs across four days next weekend at Botanic Park.

Continuing a tradition that began with the life-sized A Doll’s House in 2020 and continued this year with The Plastic Bag Store, there will be a free, interactive public art installation in Rundle Mall for the duration of the Festival. Groundswell, by Melbourne artist and percussionist Matthias Schack-Arnott, is a 6m tilting circular platform sitting atop 40,000 illuminated steel spheres that create what is described as an oceanic soundscape as members of the public walk on it.

See InReview for our full Adelaide Festival coverage.

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