On the weekend before Jonathan Holloway’s first Melbourne Festival in 2016, he flew to the US, telling as few people as possible so as not to “leave a breadcrumbs trail” for what he was checking out. Flying into San Francisco, he saw the world premiere of Layla and Majnun, a dance-opera by the Mark Morris Dance Group and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble. “I met Yo-Yo Ma, [American choreographer] Mark Morris, who I know really well, and [British contemporary artist] Howard Hodgkin, who designed it, and I saw the work, which we had co-commissioned, and I was absolutely thrilled,” enthuses Holloway.

He then flew to New York and saw three hours of Taylor Mac’s 24-hour performance  A 24-Decade History of Popular Music . He then jetted back to Australia, walked straight into an ABC interview and had to behave as if he was fresh as a daisy, rather than reeling with jet lag. But it was all worth it. Taylor Mac proved a sensation at last year’s Melbourne Festival and picked up two Helpmann AwardsLayla and Majnun is one of the centrepieces of this year’s Festival, as announced in June.

Melbourne Festival Layla and Majnun....