The line-up for the 2008 New Zealand International Arts Festival was revealed tonight, with a programme covering everything from the deeply serious to the seriously fun, organisers say.
The festival, to run in Wellington from February 22 to March 16, will involve more than 800 artists from 29 countries.
New artistic director Lisa Twomey announced the programme in Wellington tonight, promising a festival which embraces a broad range of styles including theatre, music, dance, opera, writers and visual arts.
"In continuing the festival's tradition of presenting the highest quality of classical and contemporary arts from around the world, I've shaped a programme with an element of fun about it that is designed to speak to many different parts of the community," Ms Twomey said.
"The programme mixes creative practice, creating unique cultural convergences and is influenced by great stories and current issues affecting us in the world today.
"I'm excited to present the New Zealand debuts of many artists in 2008 in what promises to be a highly entertaining 24 days."
Theatre highlights include the critically acclaimed British production Black Watch and a Russian cast performing Chekhov's Three Sisters.
Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett will also direct the Sydney Theatre Company's 2007 production of Blackbird and TV3's award winning satire bro' Town takes to the stage.
The festival's new stage commissions for 2008 include Indian Ink Theatre's first production in five years, The Dentist's Chair, and the world premiere of opera The Trial of the Cannibal Dog, a contemporary adaptation of Dame Anne Salmond's award-winning book.
The international music programme features opera in the double-bill of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's final collaboration The Lindbergh Flight and The Seven Deadly Sins, directed by Francois Girard; French pianist, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and former child prodigy violinist Chloe Hanslip make their debuts with the NZSO in two very contrasting concerts, French Finesse and Resonances; and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain will re-arrange punk, funk, metal, classical and pop standards.
Body Movies, a free public art installation take place on Wellington's waterfront.
Other waterfront events include Secret from Cirque Ici, in which Johann Le Guillerm will create sorcery under the big top in Odlins Plaza.
The dance programme features one of the world's foremost ballerinas Sylvie Guillem in collaboration with London's hottest choreographers Akram Khan in Sacred Monsters; Shen Wei's landmark double bill of The Rite of Spring and Folding; and circus skills of somersaulting, contorting and balancing in Les 7 Doigts de la Main's show Traces.
New Zealand artists include Dave Dobbyn, Lucid 3 and Wellington band Little Bushman.
The New Zealand Post Writers and Readers Week provides provocative discussion and debate, including the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stigliz, fiction writers James Meek and Mayra Montero, and 2007 Booker nominees Mohsin Hamid and Ian McEwan.
Tickets will be on sale to the public on November 16.