Fans who attend Lebanon's music festivals this summer will get to choose from a variety of their favourite Lebanese, Arab and foreign stars.
Between June 25th and August 25th, Lebanon will host megastars like Charles Aznavour, Chris de Burgh, Kadhim al-Sahir, Saber al-Rubai, Majida al-Roumi, B.B. King and other prominent entertainers in more than one festival.
And as this year's festivals favour quality over quantity, some stars will be receiving high performance fees. Reports in entertainment media said famous entertainers are being paid as much as $350,000 for a single performance this summer.
Lebanese performers absent from several festivals
This year's season will include only eight events, compared with 15 events and concerts held regularly in previous years. There will be no Lebanese performances at the Baalbeck International Festival, known for presenting Lebanese musicals since it began in 1957.
While Lebanese performers are scheduled to participate in the Beittedine International Festival, including the Cararacalla Dance Theatre, Kadhim al-Sahir will be moving from Beiteddine to perform at the Byblos International Festival. Tunisian singer Saber al-Rubai will make his first appearance at Baalbeck while Lebanese artists were not included in the programme, a move that generated much controversy.
However, Lebanese singers are scheduled to perform at the Batroun International Festival, including Majida al-Roumi. Carole Samaha will sing at the Zouk Mikael Festival, and Najwa Karam will perform at the Faqra Festival.
The Byblos International Festival will open with guitar player Slash. The highlight of the festival will be a performance by blues legend B.B. King on July 5th. Kadhim al-Sahir is scheduled to perform July 14th and will perform songs he will be singing for the first time: pieces written by the poet Nizar Qabbani. The festival will close with a performance by Tinariwen, an African band, on July 25th.
Meanwhile, the Beiteddine International Festival will have eight nights of performances. The opening act will be the Caracalla Dance Theatre with a performance by Ivan and Alissar Caracalla titled "Kan Ya Ma Kan". Performances will be accompanied by live music from the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra led by maestro Harout Fazlian.
A contemporary ballet performance is scheduled for July 7th at Beiteddine with dancers Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant. In addition, the Cranberries are scheduled to perform July 14th. Finally, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Big Band alongside Lebanese jazz singer Randa Ghossoub will be performing July 17th.
The Baalbeck International Festival will also have multiple nights of performances -- five -- beginning with Chico and the Gypsies June 29th. The Italian pop singer Zucchero will perform July 5th, and the Tunisian singer Saber al-Rubai will sing July 7th. Meanwhile, the world-famous singer Jessye Norman will perform July 13th, and the festival will close with a performance by the band Mashrou Leila July 15th.
In addition, the highly-anticipated Jounieh Festival in Keserwan enters its second season and will present several performances beginning June 29th and continuing until July 8th. Charles Aznavour will perform July 6th, and Chris de Burgh will sing on July 8th at the Fouad Shehab sports arena.
In July, the Zouq Mikael Festival will launch its traditional programme with the American California All-Star Blues Band. Carole Samaha will make her first appearance at the festival on July 14th, and Lebanese fans of the opera singer Jose Carreras and soprano Monica Yunus can listen to their music July 18th
Finally, the Batroun Festival committee decided to present only two concerts this year. The festival has stayed true to its tradition by staging events in the open air as all-night entertainment hits the main street in Batroun. The highlight of the festival will be Majida al-Roumi's performance August 25th when she will launch her new album.