Catch a world premiere

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Manchester International Festival

The northwest’s biggest arts festival kicks off today.

The 18-day Manchester 
International Festival begins at venues around the city with a host of premieres.

Over the opening two days audiences will see several world premieres, including Kenneth Branagh’s (main picture) highly anticipated return to Shakespeare when he takes on the role of Macbeth.

Also premiering at the 
festival is Robert Wilson’s 
production of Russian avant garde classic The Old Woman (right) staring Hollywood actor 
Willem Dafoe and Mikhail Baryshnikov and the unique 
combination of gig and film in Massive Attack v Adam Curtis, featuring Elizabeth Fraser and Horace Andy,

The xx begin a sold out run of 18 dates for audiences of just 60 in a specially designed secret space on Saturday.

Due to overwhelming 
demand, the band have added a one-off show at Manchester’s Ritz for 1,500 people on 
Tuesday, July 9.

Tickets go on sale via www.mif.co.uk at 4pm today.

Visual art commissions begin with the electrifying do it 20 13 featuring the work of 150 international artists including Gilbert & George, Theaster Gates, Tracey Emin and Ai Wei Wei, and Nikhil Chopra’s epic Coal on Cotton, which sees the Indian artist performing day and night for 65 hours, beginning at sunrise on Friday and ending at sunset on Sunday.

The first weekend also features Neneh Cherry (inset) performing her new album for the first time; Sufi superstar Abida Parveen in her first UK date in a decade; and an evening celebrating the work of John Tavener with the BBC Philharmonic.

Over the full 18 days featured artists and events include Matt Charman’s new play The Machine; Tino Sehgal’s Turner-nominated work This variation; first outings for albums from Goldfrapp and MONEY; and Mogwai perform their original soundtrack to Zidane, a 21st Century Portrait for the first time.

MIF is the world’s first festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially. For more information and to book tickets visit www.mif.co.uk.