Ravenna's Festival 17 - May 25/July 11

Since 1990 Ravenna Festival has been characterized by an extremely varied artistic programme including all types of performing arts: symphonic and chamber music, opera, drama, dance, ballet, musical theatre, jazz, and ethnic music. Every year from May to July, the entire city becomes a stage for two months: its staggering gilded basilicas, encrusted with ancient mosaics, its elegant historical theatres, its cloisters, gardens, squares and ancient buildings brought back to life. And also the city’s port and industrial heritage sites, its beaches and its pine forest, where Dante was hosted, and further off, the gently rolling hills peeping from the distant horizon…

These extraordinary places – it is worth remembering here that eight monuments in Ravenna are UNESCO World Heritage sites – and a multidisciplinary vocation are the distinctive features that make the Ravenna Festival unique: for over a quarter century, the Festival has contributed to rediscover the glorious past of a city which used to be a crossroads of peoples and cultures, and to restore its identity as the ancient imperial capital at the centre of the world. Choosing art as the Festival’s language, and moving along new thematic axes covering the most different expressions and genres, the artistic directors – Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, Franco Masotti and Angelo Nicastro – yearly define a rich programme centred on a culturally and artistically relevant theme.

Many topics have already been dealt with and thoroughly examined: from the most specifically musical themes of the very beginnings (“Salieri and the Vienna School” in 1990, “Around Rossini”, “Bellini and Wagner”, etc.) to the more visionary ones, which projected Ravenna – a subject and an object at one and the same time – into new soulscapes: the Mediterranean, the East, the Apocalypse, visions, deserts and pilgrimages, in a mix of popular and fairy tale, sacred and profane…

Down to the current topic, linked to the history of the twentieth century by its dedication to Nelson Mandela, one of the leaders of the “short century” and a true icon of the contemporary world. After dealing with the Great War in 2014 (“1914: The Year That Changed the World”) and after the 2015 tribute to Dante Alighieri on the 750th anniversary of his birth (“The love that moves the sun and the other stars”), in 2016 the fil rouge leads to the defence of civil rights, giving voice to the passions and the innovative drive of the large popular movements that helped change the world.

Since 1997, the year of the first historic concert in Sarajevo, the route of the Ravenna Festival has been closely intertwined with “The Roads of Friendship”, a series of lay pilgrimages touching on cities wounded by war, re-establishing ancient ties to places that have made history and building “bridges of brotherhood”. Leading on these paths as a cultural ambassador to the world is Riccardo Muti, with orchestras and choirs that, in line with the spirit of brotherhood that animates these concerts and in the name of the universality of music, have regularly welcomed some local musicians and given life to unforgettable events in such symbolic sites as Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Yerevan, Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, Nairobi, Mirandola, Redipuglia, Otranto, and Tokyo in 2016.

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