Maggio Musicale Fiorentino – The 76th Festival
Music has always played an important role in the artistic life of Florence: the melodrama was created here in the late 500's. Today, the center of Florentine music is the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which is based at the Teatro Comunale, and manages the "Maggio Musicale", the oldest and most prestigious European Festival, along with Bayreuth and Salzburg.
|The Teatro Comunale|
The Teatro Comunale originates from the Politeama Fiorentino, designed in 1862 by Telemachus Bonaiuti, an outdoor arena from which the current structure evolved. Today the theatre is made up of a large pit, a row of boxes and two large semicircular amphitheatre galleries with a total capacity of 2003 seats. Next to the main hall is the Little Theatre, a modern "reduced theatre" which can accommodate about 600 spectators. Partially destroyed twice, in 1944 during bombing, and in the flood of 1966, the theatre was promptly restored, symbolizing the desire for rebirth and a civil commitment by the city (as also expressed by means of the great concert in Piazza della Signoria after the bombing of the Uffizi in 1993).
Some of the biggest names of this century's music scene have taken the stage at the Comunale: directors such as Vittorio Gui, Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and Herbert von Karajan, the "divina" Maria Callas, Pietro Mascagni and Richard Strauss, Paul Hindemith and Bela Bartok, Igor Stravinsky and Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio interpreting their own music. The finest directors and set designers have worked alongside them, such as Max Reinhardt and Gustav Gründgens, Luchino Visconti and Franco Zeffirelli, Luca Ronconi and Bob Wilson, Giorgio De Chirico and Oskar Kokoschka.
Eighty years ago, on April 23, 1933, Vittorio Gui inaugurated with Nabucco by Giuseppe Verdi the first Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, starting to an art form that has quickly established itself as a milestone in the history of Twentieth Century music. Started as a triennial event, it has been an annual event since 1937 and has since been one of the required goals for music lovers.
Since its inception the Maggio Musicale gained attention worldwide for its cultural choices. First, the attention paid to the problems of "visualization" in lyrical opera, calling on many of the major theatre and film directors of our century to work at the Florentine festival, and a large group of famous painters and sculptors, as well as set and costume designers . Second, the constant exploration of twentieth century music through the active presence of the composers, accompanied by the rediscovery of works and authors of the past. Hence, phenomena such as Rossini-Renaissance, as well as the revaluation of Donizetti and early Verdi, have had their beginnings on the stage of the Teatro Fiorentino. Nor can we forget the thorough investigation of some moments in the history of music, thanks to editions of the festival themes, such as Rossini in May of 1952, and those of 1964, 1994 and 1995, respectively dedicated to Expressionism, to Twentieth Century history and to First Romanticism. Finally, the constant presence of great interpreters: conductors, soloists and singers, are essential for the realization of such ambitious projects. Thanks too to the contribution of innovative scenography, real "interpretations" of scores and more traditional works.
Even though the Festival only occupies the months of May and June, the activities of the Theatre extend throughout the year with the season of operas, concerts and ballets, and the summer shows in the magnificent and monumental setting of the Boboli Gardens, offering a continuous and varied range of musical opportunities for a demanding and qualified international audience.
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