SINGAPORE - With about 40 guests scheduled to appear in person, this year's Voilah! France Singapore Festival is the first international festival since the pandemic closed borders last year.
At a press conference at the Pod at National Library on Tuesday (Oct 19), French ambassador Marc Abensour said the new Vaccinated Travel Lane would allow the festival to bring about 40 French artists, musicians and talents to Singapore.
The popular festival, which encompasses arts, culture, food and science, returns from Nov 3 to Dec 10 with 50 programmes.
Mr Abensour said last year's Voilah! attracted more than 300,000 participants to its "phygital" programmes.
He added: "The 2021 edition was prepared with the determination to present most of the programmes in person. There is digital fatigue. To celebrate this way towards the new normal, we wanted to convey a sense of hope and of joy."
The festival will kick off with The Little Prince - A Musical Journey. The Asian premiere of the full orchestral work by French composer Thierry Huillet will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the publication of Antoine de Saint-Exupery's beloved classic.
The production will feature hologram technology developed by ARHT Media and the Braddell Heights Symphony Orchestra conducted by Chan Wei Shing. Huillet will also be in town to perform with the orchestra.
The show's narrator Hossan Leong revealed that the production was actually initiated by Singaporean musician Adrian Tan, who died unexpectedly on July 12 of cardiac arrest.
Leong said: "To be absolutely honest, after he passed away, I couldn't do it. But Adrian probably would have wanted us to carry on."
Mr Abensour noted that the festival is not just about promoting French culture but is also dedicated to the spirit of collaboration between the two countries. "This partnership dimension is absolutely critical."
Five highlights from the festival
Le Grand Jazz
Singapore jazz stalwart Jeremy Monteiro leads this concert tribute to French jazz legend Michel Legrand. French musicians Nicolas Folmer and Sylvain Beuf will perform virtually with the Jazz Association Singapore Orchestra.
Where: Capitol Theatre, 17 Stamford Road
When: Nov 5, 8pm
Admission: $48 and $68 for live concert, $15 for live stream from Sistic (call 6348 5555 or go to Sistic's website)
Oggy And The Cockroaches
French artists Saro and Alexinho will beatbox and live-loop the soundtrack to a comic animation in this family friendly show.
Where: Gardens by the Bay
When: Nov 6, 2pm and 5pm; Nov 7, 2pm
Admission: Free with registration
37th French Film Festival
Famed godmother of French New Wave cinema Agnes Varda gets an eight-film retrospective at the long running festival, which this year boasts the biggest programme to date with 35 films. Varda's daughter Rosalie will be making a live appearance at the festival. Watch out for new releases including Aline, inspired by the life of singer Celine Dion, air crash thriller Black Box and political drama Promises, starring the inimitable Isabelle Huppert.
Where: Various locations
When: Nov 11 to 28
Admission: From $15
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station Virtual Experience
Take a virtual tour of the architectural landmark, which has been closed since 2012, in this VR experience sponsored by Dassault Systemes and presented by the Preservation of Sites and Monuments division of the National Heritage Board.
Where: Longer Concourse, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road
When: Nov 12 to Dec 31
Mapping The World: Perspectives From Asian Cartography
This exhibition will showcase more than 60 cartographic treasures from French institutions including the Musee Guimet and Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient as well as other institutions such as the Asian Civilisations Museum and Indian Heritage Centre.
Where: National Library, 100 Victoria Street
When: Dec 10 to May 8, 2022
For more information, go to the festival's website.