"On the High and Open Sea"

Seat of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century and of Byzantine Italy until the 8th century, ancient Ravenna was a melting pot of cultures thanks to its strategic position on the Adriatic coast and its passage across the Mediterranean to both East and West. And so when Cristina Mazzavillani Muti founded the Ravenna Festival in 1990 she made it a premise that the programme should reflect the core of the city’s identity by presenting performing arts across all genres and cultures. Staged throughout the city, including in many of its UNESCO World Heritage monuments and basilicas, the Ravenna Festival now celebrates its 30th year. In addition to a vibrant two month summer programme that includes the annual Roads of Friendship (9 and 11 July), Ravenna’s long season of music also encompasses Riccardo Muti’s Italian Opera Academy (20 July to 2 August) and the Autumn Trilogy (1 to 10 November).

The main theme of this year’s festival is "On the High and Open Sea", a quote from Dante’s Inferno referring to the Greek hero Ulysses which reminds us of the crucial role the sea has played in Ravenna’s long history. The sea had receded long before Dante arrived in Ravenna in 1318 but history had already made its indelible mark and created a jewel of a city that continues to astonish today. 2019 is a celebration of the city’s great past and its present as the 30th Ravenna Festival continues its journey of discovery and pays tribute to the tides which have cradled people and the arts since as long as history remembers.

Highlights of this year’s programmes include:


5 June to 16 July

• Maurizio Pollini joins Riccardo Muti and the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra (5 June) for the opening concert, featuring Mozart piano concertos KV 466 and KV 449, Mendelssohn’s "Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage" and Rachmaninov’s "Isle of the Dead"

• "Le ore sacre del giorno" - The Tallis Scholars (16 June) perform the hours of the divine office in Ravenna’s historic basilicas and baptisteries in a spiritual journey of prayer: starting with Matins in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore (00.00) and continuing with Lauds and Prime in Dante’s church, the Basilica of San Francesco (07.00), Sext in the Basilica of San Giovanni Evangelista (12.00), None in the Baptistery of Neon (15.30), Vespers in the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo (19.00) and Compline in the Basilica of San Vitale (21.30)

• The Martha Graham Dance Company (17 June) presents, among other works, "Errands in the Maze" based on the Greek myth of the Minotaur while the Hamburg Ballet (5 & 6 July) performs in the year of John Neumeier’s 80th birthday

• Il Giardino Armonico (19 June) performs Haydn’s overture "The Deserted Island" and "Farewell Symphony" and are joined by the Labèque Sisters for Mozart’s Concerto in F Major KV 242 for two fortepianos

• Le parole e il mare (24 June) - medievalist Alessandro Vanoli, actor Lino Guanciale and musician Marco Morandi lead us on a journey around the Mediterranean coast and stories of seamen

• "Between Orient and Occident" (28 June) - free Greek-Byzantine song meets the well-tempered sounds of the keyboard with Nektaria Karantzi and Vassilis Tsabropoulos

• "Purgatorio" (from 25 June to 14 July) - a mystery play, tailor-made for the city where Dante spent his last years and was buried. Devised by Marco Martinelli and Ermanna Montanari the performance starts at Dante’s tomb and takes the audience to the gardens of the Rasi Theatre (a convent in Dante’s time). The Italian production involves hundreds of members of the Ravenna community aged from 8 to 80 and creates a staging that lives and breathes Ravenna

• The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (30 June) performs Arvo Pärt’s "Kanon Pokajanen" in the UNESCO World Heritage Basilica of Sant’Apollinare in Classe

• Berlioz’s "Harold in Italy" (3 July) – commemorating the 150th anniversary of the composer’s death with the Orchestre National de France, Antoine Tamestit and Emmanuel Krivine

• The Roads of Friendship (11 July) – Riccardo Muti is joined by Greek and Italian musicians for a performance of Beethoven Symphony No. 9 (see details below)

• Nella lingua e nella spada (12 July) - A theatrical journey directed by Elena Bucci following the lives and works of Panagoulis, other heroes and heroines in the time of the Regime of the Colonels in Greece

• "100 percussions" celebrates rhythm in all its many forms including a trekking concert along the banks of Lido di Dante with Zimbabwean musician, Stella Chiweshe (9 June), a fusion of techno and Ugandan percussion with Nihiloxica (10 June), Steve Reich’s Drumming (11 June) and Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Kathinkas Gesang (13 June), as well as two concerts featuring legendary rock drummers Stewart Copeland (29 June) and Nick Mason (14 July)


9 and 11 July

Riccardo Muti - Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra

Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Athens

Since 1997, the Festival has curated annual pilgrimages to cities as diverse as Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Yerevan, Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, Nairobi, Tokyo, Tehran and Kyiv. This summer the Roads of Friendship travels to Athens for a journey back to the roots of Western civilization and a city which shares common Byzantine ties with Ravenna. Riccardo Muti is joined by Italian and Greek musicians for a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on 9 July in Athens’ Odeon of Herodes Atticus dating back to 161 AD, returning to Ravenna for a second performance on 11 July.


20 July to 2 August

The Marriage of Figaro

Since 2015 Riccardo Muti has invited musicians from around the world to participate in a two-week public masterclass at his Italian Opera Academy in Ravenna. From piano to on-stage rehearsals and two final concerts in the Dante Alighieri Theatre, young conductors and répétiteurs learn the art of opera through the personal instruction of Riccardo Muti, who shares his knowledge and experience with students and audience alike. Joining them in the pit is the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, founded by Riccardo Muti in 2004 - an ensemble offering young Italian musicians under 30 a vital training ground between conservatoires and the professional world.


1 to 10 November

Norma, Aida, Carmen

Inspiring the next generation of musicians is something that has also been close to the heart of Cristina Mazzavillani Muti ever since she founded the Ravenna Festival in 1990 and the introduction of the Autumn Trilogy in 2012 was a natural extension to the Festival. This year the trilogy presents three new productions - Bellini’s Norma, Verdi’s Aida, and Bizet’s Carmen - featuring a young cast and the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in the historic Alighieri Theatre. Audiences are invited to enjoy an autumn weekend exploring the city by day and attending a different opera each evening. www.ravennafestival.org


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