The Maggio Fiorentino celebrates its 75th year with a tribute to Vespucci
The 75th Maggio Musicale Fiorentino festival kicks off on 4 May with an outstanding bill of ninety events, two hundred guests, forty-two institutions, and twenty-three participating venues in Florence. Over the course of five weeks, the Maggio Fiorentino will feature six world premieres and two Italian premieres, and at least one musical event for each of the festival’s thirty-eight days. Indeed, there is much to celebrate as the festival pays tribute to numerous anniversaries, which together inspire this year’s driving themes, fleshed out in operas, ballets, concerts, conventions, book presentations, and many other interesting initiatives. The programme includes some notable new developments, from the return of prose to the festival’s events, in co-production with the Teatro della Pergola, to workshops for young musicians, a world premiere by Silvia Colasanti, numerous events dedicated to contemporary music, an exhibition and a book promoting the theatre’s archives, and finally Maggio i-Tech featuring print@home, live streaming, surtitles for smartphones and tablets, and a dedicated radio programme.
Along with the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the birth of Claude Debussy (1862-1918), the 100th anniversary of the death of Giulio Ricordi (1840 - 1912), and other anniversaries, the festival pays tribute to Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512) on the 500th anniversary of his death: indeed, one of this year’s leitmotifs is the idea of the journey, which will be the subject of a lectio magistralis by Alberto Arbasino and Miguel Rojas Mix during the inauguration ceremony on Friday, 4 May at 11 AM. Additionally, the theme of the journey from Mitteleuropea will accompany the Teatro della Pergola, its actors, and its audience, from the festival to a major South American tour (7-21 August 2012).
After a preview titled "Waiting for the Maggio Fiorentino" and performances by the Carabinieri marching band, including their final concert at the Nuovo Teatro (Thursday 3 May at 5 PM), the festival will be inaugurated by Richard Strauss’s opera Der Rosenkavalier. This opera, which premiered on January 26, 1911, will be conducted by Zubin Mehta, with stage sets by Hans Schavernoch, costumes by Catherine Voeffray, and lights by Manfred Voss. The cast will feature Angela Denoke, Kristinn Sigmundsson, Caitlin Hulcup, Eike Wilm Schulte, and Sylvia Schwartz.
The Tuscan artist Massimo Bartolini (1962) was entrusted with coming up with an idea and symbolic image for the front cover of the single issue. With this choice, the festival resumes a tradition that dates back to 1933, with an image designed by Giovanni Piombanti Ammannati. On Saturday, 2 June at 7 PM, Massimo Bartolini will present Ballad (for a tree), which will be performed as part of the "Maggio contemporanea" section at the Nuovo Teatro dell’Opera in Florence by the saxophonist Edoardo Marraffa, who will re-enact the installation sequence in the author’s presence.
Other new features of the 2012 edition include Maggio Etnico, which turns the Nuovo Teatro dell’Opera into a stage for Noche Tango by the Gran Orquestra de Tango led by Juan José Mosalini (considered the heir of Astor Piazzolla), in collaboration with Flog - Musica dei Popoli, on Wednesday 23 May at 9:30 PM. Tango will also feature in the cinema section, with a screening of Sally Potter’s The Tango Lessons (1997) on Wednesday 16 May at Cinema Odeon, along with other free screenings.
Additionally, there are various educational initiatives and activities for children and adolescents, who are involved both as actors and protagonists (with the “Luigi Cherubini” Conservatory in Florence, the Fiesole School of Music, the “Incontri col Maestro” International Piano Academy in Imola, and Maggio Fiorentino Formazione).
On Sunday, 13 May, A night with John Cage, will pay tribute to the famous U.S. composer (1912-1992) on the 100th anniversary of his birth. This event will take place at Stazione Leopolda with the collaboration of Contempoartensemble, Fondazione Fabbrica Europa, L’Homme Armé, and Tempo Reale in Four.
Additionally, the exhibition “Pictorial and musical dissonance and consonance at the Maggio Fiorentino. Guttuso-Scialoja-Vlad 1948-1951” will be staged at the Nuovo Teatro dell’Opera in Florence, and will be open to the public concurrently with the performances held there.
Other new events include one on the closing date, 10 June, focusing on the Baroque, which will see Fabio Biondi conducting Georg Friedrich Händel’s Israel in Egypt HWV 54. Side events include one on Tuesday, 12 June, at the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, with Eugene Kohn conducting a concert starring the soprano Angela Gheorghiu and the tenor Saimir Pirgu: this initiative is a bridge between the Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and The Tuscan Sun Festival.