Festival della Valle d’Itria: the 46th edition, with its great voices of our time, hosts the myth of Ariadne, between the Palazzo Ducale, our cloisters, and country houses

Festival della Valle d’Itria: the 46th edition, with its great voices of our time, hosts the myth of Ariadne, between the Palazzo Ducale, our cloisters, and country houses

Between the 14th July and the 2nd August we have two performances in the name of Strauss: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme conducted by Michele Spotti, and Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Fabio Luisi; we also have a series of concerts with some of the best belcanto performers of our time.

Amongst our singers feature Anna Caterina Antonacci, Alex Esposito, Lidia Fridman, Francesco Meli, Sara Mingardo, Jessica Pratt, Piero Pretti, Carmela Remigio, Luca Salsi, Veronica Simeoni, Xabier Anduaga

On the programme we have Stefano Massini, and chamber performers Federico Colli, Francesca Dego with Daniele Rustioni, and Francesco Libetta

We re-designed the calendar for the 46thFestival della Valle d’Itria in record time: in the space of only a few weeks, artistic director Alberto Triola and music director Fabio Luisi set up a brand new programme, focused on the myth of Ariadne. This will be the theme for our 46th edition, titled “Finding the thread”, which will open its doors on the 14th July and end on the 2nd August.

«Even in the toughest moments – says Franco Punzi, President of the Fondazione Paolo Grassi – we always believed that the lights of the Palazzo Ducale would shine on the 46th edition of the Festival: we have an obligation towards our territory, towards our artists, and especially towards our audience. It is in the gravest times that theatre, as Paolo Grassi taught us, must state its role, find a new lease of life and give it back to the community of which it is part. My warmest thanks goes therefore to the whole Festival staff, whose tireless work will give new oxygen to Martina Franca and the whole Valle d’Itria».

There are nineteen shows, between operas in concert performance, concerts, and special projects. For every performance we have taken extra care to conform to the health and safety measures required to fight the covid19 emergency, as we tour around some of Martina Franca’s most enchanting venues (from our beloved Palazzo Ducale, to the cloisters and churches scattered around the old town), the stately country houses in the surrounding area, and other spaces in Taranto and Polignano a Mare.

«Nobody knows for sure when – and if – we will be able to return to our customary way of working in the field of theatre and music – states Alberto Triola–like we did before the pandemic shook the whole world, shattering set schemes and habits. Just like in every life-changing crisis, those who emerge will be the ones who identified and managed innovative solutions, thus occupying new spaces of creativity, making the most of hitherto unimaginable resources, impulses, and strengths. There are many reasons to be pessimistic, but the energy which the Festival della Valle d’Itriahas put into play in almost half a century of history is able to react to resignation, and activate the necessary cultural and creative ‘antibodies’. Our new project is an extraordinary festival for an extra-ordinary year: for our audience, who more than ever needs culture to revitalise the spirit and rediscover a community spirit; for our workers in the art field, those who have turned art into their daily bread: our artists, theatre workers, business partners. This festival unites the best of Italian excellence in a dramatic, troublesome year for our country. Now more than ever we feel the role of our festival as a cultural beacon for Southern Italy, and for our nation as a whole».

The seating of the Palazzo Ducale will be reorganised to accommodate the new health and safety measures. In this location we present two titles by Richard Strauss, performed in rare versions. Both works were conceived by the Bavarian composer for a 37-piece orchestra, which in Martina Franca will be made up of maestros of the Orchestra della Fondazione Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari.

The Festival opens on the 14thJuly (with repeats on the 22nd, 25thJuly, and 1st August) with Molière’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, re-written as a monologue by Stefano Massini; mise en espace by DavideGasparro, and Strauss’ music conducted by Michele Spotti. The music written to accompany the commedia will follow the 1917 score, with a performing actor and dance, in the true spirit of Lully/Molière’s comédie ballet and recreating Strauss/Hofmannsthal’s idea. Massini, one of Italy’s top theatre playwrights and artistic advisor of Milan’s Piccolo Teatro, is behind the original dramaturgy, inspired by Molière to talk about issues of our time. The protagonist of the comedy, Monsieur Jourdain, aspires to become a nobleman (Gentilhomme) and be admitted into the court of the Sun King. This character is revisited in the role of today’s artist: a man of the stage who, on the eve of the third decade of the 21stcentury, needs to claim his status in contemporary Italian society. The charismatic and popular author will be a special guest on the stage of the opening evening, while director and actor Davide Gasparro will take his place in the repeats. Vittorio Prato is Monsieur Jourdain, while the Shepherd is Ana Victoria Pittsand the Shepherdess Barbara Massaro. Stage movements and action are by Fabrizio Di Franco, in collaboration with the Fondazione Nazionale della Danza / Aterballetto.

Ariadne auf Naxos (21st, 24th, 26thJuly, 2ndAugust) will be conducted by Fabio Luisi. Our staging is the 1912 edition, in a new version in Italian of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s libretto by Quirino Principe and directed by Walter Pagliaro, with stage elements by Gianni Carluccio and costumes by Giuseppe Palella (who in the past received the Abbiati Prize for his work for our Festival).Carmela Remigio plays the lead role; this is her third consecutive year starring in our Festival, after her success in Rinaldo and Ecuba. Tenor Piero Pretti is Bacchus, soprano Jessica Prattis Zerbinetta; Vittorio Prato is Harlequin.

The theme of the Festival moves from the highest poetical elaborations of the myth of Ariadne from the classical sources of Catullus’ LXIV century Carme, and Ovid’s Tenth Epistle from his Heroides. Their verses shed light on the shapes and places of many scenes and arias across the centuries, thus providing western culture with an inexhaustible source of material. They will provide inspiration for female characters such as Medea and Dido, and also Norma, Armida, Boleyn, and Donna Elvira. The theme of Ariadne, set between the Baroque world and a recuperation of classical culture, is not confined to the stage of the Palazzo Ducale: it fuels the whole programme. On the 27th July especially we have an original initiative moving across the monuments of old town Martina Franca, and across centuries of music. Its title is Omaggio a Martina Franca Like Theseus: through the white maze, with Ariadne’s thread, it involves dozens of artists, and will be streamed for our audience all across the globe.

The icon of Ariadne in music naturally feeds the calendar withseveral concerts in the Palazzo Ducale, with top soloists: on the 29th July, contralto Sara Mingardo will be the protagonist if the “Concerto barocco”, during which she will also receive the Prize “Rodolfo Celletti” 2020. On the 30thJuly we have the “Recital di Belcanto” with soprano Jessica Pratt and tenor XabierAnduaga; on the 31stJuly Anna CaterinaAntonacci and pianist Francesco Libetta will explore a repertoire spanning from Claudio Monteverdi to Francis Poulenc.

As per tradition, this year a number of our performances will be held in some of the most beautiful stately country houses of the area, for the series “Il canto degli ulivi”: first appointment is on the 16thJuly in Crispiano, with a recital by bassAlex Espositoand a programme featuring the most celebrated arias of his repertoire;on the 20thJuly in Cisternino we have another concert dedicated to the heroines of opera, the Ariadnes of our time, with Lidia Fridman and Leonora Bonilla; mezzo-soprano Veronica Simeoni will be the protagonist on the 23thJuly at the Masseria Palesi in Martina Franca, with pages from the Baroque repertoire and all the way to Strauss.

We have also planned two dates by the sea: on the 15th July the Festival will beat the Museum of the Fondazione Pino Pascali in Polignano, for a concert with soprano Lidia Fridman (celebrated last year for her performance as Hecuba), the Trio Gioconda De Vito, and the Duo Gromoglasova with works which speak about the sea world. On the 28th July we will be in Taranto for a recital with tenor Francesco Meli and baritone Luca Salsi, with well-known pieces by Giuseppe Verdi.

Our two concert appointments at the Chiostro di San Domenico celebrate the genius of Ludwig van Beethoven on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his birth: on the 17thJuly we have pianist Federico Colli – first prize in 2011 at Salzburg’s Mozart contest, and in 2012 at the Leeds International Piano Competition – and on the 18thJuly the duo with violinist Francesca Dego and conductor Daniele Rustioni wearing the pianist’s hatforMartina Franca.

The details of the programme will soon be available on this website.

Tickets will be available for purchase starting from the 22nd June on the website www.festivaldellavalleditria.it/en, on Vivaticket, and in its over 700 stores located all over Italy. Ticket prices range from 20 to 70 euros. This year, except for the opening night, we are offering a 50% discount on all shows for the residents of Martina Franca and for under-30s. We confirm a20% discount for over-65s and group bookings.

The ticket office of the Festival della Valle d’Itria opens in Martina Franca on the 4thJuly, right in the centre of Martina Franca in via Roma 10, just opposite the Palazzo Ducale; open daily from 10amto 1pm, and from 5pm to 9pm.

Those who have purchased tickets for the shows of the previous calendar (Gli amanti sposi, Leonora, La rappresaglia, and the symphonic concert with Fabio Luisi and Francesca Dego)will be contacted directly to organise vouchers via e-mail.

About the operas

The two titles in the proposed revisitation for the 46th edition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria – Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Ariadne auf Naxos – are fruit of the collaboration between Strauss and the poet and playwright Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Their debut dates to 1912 at Stuttgart’s court theatre, directed by Max Reinhardt and his theatre company, and with the composer himself on the podium. They were originally conceived as a unitary project, inspired by the unusual combination of subjects taken from the comédie-ballet Le bourgeois gentilhomme – with words by Molière and music by Jean-Baptiste Lully – and the mythological one of Ariadne: themes so far apart in time thatthey allowed the authors to produce successful works such as their Der Rosenkavalier. The audience’s reaction to the new work, however, was tepid, and the two pieces were “separated”, after several substantial revisions, thus reaping renewed success: to Ariadne auf Naxos was added a prologue, and Der Bürgerals Edelmann was expanded in 1917, and successively re-written as an orchestra suite (op. 60, 1919).