Lebanese are used to’ unrest

Lebanese are used to’ unrest, festivals unfazed


July 11, 2013 12:20 AM

The Daily Star


BEIRUT: There has been considerable concern about the security situation in Lebanon recently. Such concerns could only be amplified by Tuesday morning’s bomb blast in Beirut’s southern suburb of Bir al-Abed, which reports say left 50-odd people wounded. Summertime security concerns also have a knock-on effect among the summer festivals. There have been a few changes, but, so far at any rate, the number of cancellations has not been as dire as some might have expected.

The Baalbeck Festival committee announced last week that this year’s concerts had been relocated to Jdeideh’s magnanerie. Aside from U.S. soprano Renee Fleming, who canceled her concert that was meant to open the festival, and Lebanon’s Assi El-Hallani, who agreed to postpone his musical extravaganza until the 2014 season, all the performers are still committed to their scheduled dates.

“Because we changed all the plans,” press attaché Zeina Sfeir told The Daily Star, “we are calling people to tell them to come and to go to all Virgin branches to exchange their tickets because seating has been changed.”

Beiteddine Art Festival director Hala Chahine confirmed that everything was on track except for a small drop in attendance from regional clients: “We lost 10 percent, which represented the clientele from the Arab world and 5 percent from Europe, who are a bit hesitant [in coming].”

“Nothing changed,” said Beirut Holidays 2013 organizing committee member Amine Abiari. “Lebanese are used to [these situations].”

He went on the confirm that the program – which includes Anthony Touma, Nancy Ajram and “Rock the Ballet” – is still on.

Neither the Byblos International Festival nor Zouk Mikael International Festival have announced changes either. “The amphitheater,” enthused one member from the ZMF, “is getting fully booked.”



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