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.

 

Carnage in Gaza Strip as death toll passes 1,300

Morocco king deplores unequal wealth distribution

US plans largest ever sale of lethal missiles to Iraq

West watches post-Gathafi Libya descend in chaos

Qatar invests in Israeli soccer

Sudan Christian woman chooses US as final destination to settle down

France moves to disband violent Jewish group

Chief of Iran Quds Force ridicules calls to disarm Hamas

US supports Israel with weapons, Gaza with sweet words

Syria Kurds battle jihadists killing nearly 50

Mosul’s residents rise up against jihadists

Militants fire at Tunisia army helicopter

Islamists capture key Benghazi army base

16 killed in Israeli shelling of UN school in Gaza

Italian fire-fighting planes to come to Libya rescue

Syria rebels advance towards Hama military airport

Bloodshed in Gaza surges amid no truce

Major western powers call for Libya ceasefire

US-Israeli ties sink to new depths over Gaza war

UN warns buying oil from terrorists could lead to sanctions

Air Algerie crash black boxes sent to France

Warning of Tripoli catastrophe after huge oil depot blaze

US, UN call for immediate Gaza ceasefire

Egypt army kills 14 jihadists in restive Sinai Peninsula

Calls for temporary Gaza ceasefire fall on deaf ears

Yemen army foils new Qaeda attempt to seize military posts

Investigators need ‘few days’ to probe cause of Algeria plane crash

Tunisia army suffers more losses in open war with terrorism

Jihadists advance amid escalation in Syria anti-regime offensive

Iraq Shiite militia takes bloody revenge against ‘Islamic State’ in Baquba

Fierce clashes kill at least 38 people in Benghazi

Israel resumes devastating military assault on Gaza

Thousands face famine as food security situation worsens in Somalia

Death toll in Gaza climbs as fragile ceasefire reveals destruction

Egypt summons Turkey charge d'affaires for second time in one week

‘Islamic State’ jihadists dynamite Shiite shrine in Mosul

US evacuates embassy staff in Libya over ‘real risk’

Investigators begin 'difficult' probe into Air Algerie plane disaster

Armed men snatch Head of Baghdad Provincial Council

‘Islamic State’ beheads Syrian soldiers in Raqa

Kerry in Paris for talks on long-term Gaza truce

Hezbollah chief speaks out on Gaza

Two rival Islamic states in Syria power struggle

Crete protest against Syria chemicals destruction in Mediterranean

74 killed in IS assault on Syria regime territory