First Published: 2013-06-21

 

Lebanon's Baalbek festival moved to another venue

 

Spillover of Syria war prompts renowned Baalbek International Festival’s to move from town’s Roman ruins to another location.

 

Middle East Online

Culture affected by Syria war

BEIRUT - Lebanon's renowned Baalbek International Festival, normally held in the town's spectacular Roman ruins, is to move to an alternative venue in the face of a spillover of violence from neighbouring Syria, organisers said on Friday.

American soprano Renee Fleming, the festival's headline act, has also cancelled her participation in the festival, one of the Arab world's leading cultural events and a point of pride for Lebanon.

"As as result of the security situation, we cannot organise the festival in the temple this year," the festival's press office said.

"We are holding meetings with authorities to find another location, aware that it is very difficult to find a similarly wonderful setting."

The decision to change venue will also force a delay, and the festival is now scheduled to begin on August 9, instead of June 30.

The disruption to the festival comes as Lebanon finds itself increasingly affected by the war raging in its larger neighbour Syria.

Rockets fired from inside Syria have hit border areas near the Baalbek ruins, which lie in a stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah movement.

Hezbollah is a key ally of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has dispatched fighters to battle alongside the Syrian army against rebels seeking to overthrow him.

Hezbollah's intervention has raised tensions in Lebanon, where many Sunnis back the Sunni-led uprising against Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Baalbek festival was cancelled during Hezbollah's devastating war with Israel in 2006, but this is thought to be the first year that it has switched venue.

The Baalbek ruins, which include the striking Temple of Jupiter and well-preserved Temple of Bacchus, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

"We are really disappointed," the festival's press office said, adding that some acts had been designed specifically for performance in the ruins.

"Renee Fleming cancelled even before the situation got worse," the press office said, adding that other performers had, however, confirmed their attendance.

Among the acts booked for this year are British singer Marianne Faithfull and Brazilian pianist and singer Eliane Elias.

Launched in 1956 during what is often thought of as Lebanon's Golden Age, the Baalbek festival was halted at the start of the 1975-1990 civil war and did not resume until 1997.

It has hosted figures including dancer Rudolph Nureyev, British singer Sting and American jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald.

Lebanon's other main summer festivals, including the Beiteddine festival in the Chouf mountains and the Byblos festival on the Mediterranean coast, are expected to go ahead as planned.

 

Polisario chief dies ‘after long illness’

Aid group warns of catastrophe in the making in Fallujah

Lieberman sworn in as Israel defence minister

Recovery in oil price eases pressure on OPEC

EU most senior lawyer backs work headscarf ban

Israeli court rules Sara Netanyahu harassed worker

Sudan detains eight human rights activists

Bahrain frees opposition activist, toddler son

EU warns migrants could be used as drug mules

IS presses assault in Aleppo province

Libya government allies capture coastal town from ISIS

New Yemen clashes kill at least 38 people in 24 hours

Ex-Miss Turkey sentenced 'for insulting Erdogan'

Death sentences for attack on Bahrain police upheld

Istanbul locked down on anniversary of Gezi Park demos

UN envoy calls for Libya unity to counter ISIS

Egypt journalist union leaders to face trial

Germany risks Turkey ties with Armenian 'genocide' vote

Kurd-led fighters seize more ground from ISIS in Syria

Iraq forces battle defiant IS outside Fallujah

Russian warplanes hit hospital, homes in Syria's Idlib

Saudi intercepts ballistic missile from Yemen

Hamas executes three men for murder in Gaza Strip

Egypt probes teenage girl's death during female circumcision operation

Jordan heads into elections by fall after parliament dissolution

Turkey to abandon migrant deal if no visa-free travel

Egypt court sentences Brotherhood leader to life in prison

Kuwait jails members of ruling family for insulting Emir

Tunisia blames ‘terrorist elements’ for deadly landmine blast

Turkey offers to join forces for Syria operation -- without Kurds

Sanctions gone, Iran drums up business with West

Starving Iraqis risk all to flee crumbling rule of ISIS

Iraq forces enter ISIS-held Fallujah from three directions

Chief negotiator of Syria opposition quits over failed talks

Bahrain appeal court ramps up jail sentence against Sheikh Ali Salman

Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of sowing ‘sedition’ in Iraq

Israel police send Netanyahu spending file to prosecutors

Bahrain court upholds life terms for five 'spies'

Investigators need 12 days to recover EgyptAir black boxes

Iraq troops prepare for final assault on ISIS-held Fallujah

Iraq Kurdish forces launch offensive east of Mosul

Shipwrecks in Mediterranean claim up to 700 lives in one week

Iran blames Saudi Arabia for Hajj impasse

ISIS offensive triggers mass displacement in northern Syria

Without clear roadmap, Libya unity government fails to bring change