Festival della Valle d’Itria: the best voices of opera for the 47th edition in Martina Franca, 17th July – 5th August

Festival della Valle d’Itria: the best voices of opera for the 47th edition in Martina Franca, 17th July – 5th August
Music director Fabio Luisi to conduct the opening concert
Amongst the protagonists of the event are Teresa Iervolino, Angela Meade, Lisette Oropesa, Raffaele Pe, Marianna Pizzolato, Carmela Remigio, Federico Maria Sardelli, Markus Werba, Joseph Calleja

“Fiat lux” is the title of the 47thedition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria, which will take place from the 17th July to the 5th August in Martina Franca: 20 days of shows lighting the stages of the Palazzo Ducale, of the Chiostro di San Domenico, and the ancient country estates of the Valley – in complete observance of anti-Covid protocols. Great names from the world of opera will perform rare works: operas, oratorios, recitals, and symphonic concerts. The programme was created by artistic director Alberto Triola and music director Fabio Luisi, approved by the Fondazione Paolo Grassi, the promoting body of the Festival, led by Franco Punzi.

«The programme – says Alberto Triola – sketches a clear historical and cultural itinerary starting from the Neapolitan Baroque of Alessandro Scarlatti and Nicola Porpora, passing through Haydn’s Viennese Classicism, and finally reaching Schubert. But the proposed works open up to interpretations, to connections and references to today’s human and social conditions, starting from the most obvious example: “Fiat lux” is a new beginning, stemming from the pressing need for an authentic re-creation of the world. This implies the failure, sinking, and abandonment of things as they have stood so far, which suddenly appear hopelessly old, or tragically show our inadequacy.

As per tradition, the opening event will be held at the Palazzo Ducale – with its stalls set up and ready once again in full compliance with health and safety norms. The opening work is Franz Joseph Haydn’s The Creation (17, 23, 31 July), Conducted by Fabio Luisi and performed in the Italian version by Dario Del Corno, revisited by Filippo Del Corno for the occasion. In Martina Franca,Haydn’s oratorio, with libretto by Baron Gottfried van Swieten – inspired by pages from the Genesis, and Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667) – will be performed in a staged version, directed by Fabio Ceresa, with scenes by Tiziano Santi, and costumes by Gianluca Falaschi. This production sees our renewed collaboration with Bari’s Orchestra del Teatro Petruzzelli, while we have the debut in Martina Franca of the Coro Ghislieri: a permanently resident group at the Centro di Musica Antica of the Fondazione Ghislieri in Pavia, considered one of the most original Italian realities in the field of period music, conducted by Giulio Prandi. As regards the cast, in the role of Rafael we have Alessio Arduini; as Adam and Eve we have two young artists from the Accademia del Belcanto “Rodolfo Celletti”: Catalan baritone Jan Antem, and soprano Sabrina Sanza. The choreographies are by the dancers of the Fattoria Vittadini.

«The project of the Festival della Valle d’Itria2021, with the staged performance of Haydn’s oratorio The Creation – notes music director Fabio Luisi – is extremely interesting, and bold in its will to have music work alongside theatre visuals. It belongs to the DNA of the Festival, which has always connected the Italian Belcanto repertoire to the European experiences stemming from it.We know that many of Haydn’s operas are scarce in dramaturgy, in spite of often being an explosion of music values. As it is not necessarily linked to a theatre dramaturgy, but to a biblical-historical connection, The Creation lends itself to the exploration of a decidedly Mediterranean vocality, adequate to the Habsburg and Middle-European music environment. Furthermore, from a personal point of view, this project brings me back to the beginning of my conducting career: in Martina Franca I had the privilege, under Rodolfo Celletti’s artistic direction, to experience this masterpiece, just like today in Dario dal Corno’s translation, which was created expressly for us».

Composed on a 1701 libretto by Apostolo Zeno, based on Boccaccio’s final Decameron novella, Alessandro Scarlatti’s La Griselda will be staged at the Palazzo Ducale (24, 29 July, 1 August) commemorating the three-hundredth anniversary of its debut, which took place in Rome at the Teatro Capranica in 1721. Conducting the orchestra La Lira di Orfeo – an ensemble dedicated to Baroque secular music – and the Ghisleri Choir, we have Georg Petrou, returning to Martina Franca after his 2019success of Porpora’s L’Orfeo. Directed by Rosetta Cucchi, with scenes by Tiziano Santi and costumes by Claudia Pernigotti. In the role of Griselda we have soprano Carmela Remigio, celebrating her fourth consecutive year with us in Martina Franca. In our Festival she has interpreted and performed extremely varied roles, all with huge acclaim from audience and critics: Armidain Handle/Leo’s Rinaldo, Ecuba in Manfroce’s homonymous work, and Arianna in Strauss’ Ariadne auf Naxos. Another welcome return is countertenor Raffaele Pe, in the role of Gualtiero. To complete the cast of singers we have repertoire specialists Francesca Ascioti (Ottone), Giuseppina Bridelli (Roberto), and Krystian Adam (Corrado).

The third title at the Palazzo Ducaleis L’Angelica (30 July, 3 August), a serenata by Nicola Porporadated1720, composed on the first libretto by Pietro Metastasio. It is based on the heroic gests narrated in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso. The project is co-produced with Mainz’ Staatstheater, created by Gianluca Falaschi, a costume designer who has created stage clothes for some of the most important theatres in the world; this is his debut as a director. Federico Maria Sardelli is one of the most appreciated conductors in the field of Baroque repertoire; he will conduct the Lira di Orfeo and a cast including mezzosoprano Teresa Iervolino as Orlando, and Elena Bakanova as Angelica. The pastoral trio of Licori, Titiro, and Tirsi is interpreted respectively by Gaia Petrone, Sergio Foresti, and Barbara Massaro.

Also at the Palazzo Ducale, on the 4th August we have a staged version of one of Franz Schubert’s most celebrated compositions, the Lieder Winterreise song cycle (“Winter Journey”): 24 pieces for voice and piano, with poetic texts by Wilhelm Müller, performed here in Martina Franca by Austrian Markus Werba and pianist-conductor Michele Gamba. The staging is created by Libero Stelluti, much celebrated by our Festival’s audience for his direction with the group Eco di fondoof productions Altricanti d’Amor, and Il Trionfo dell’onore, as well as the show La rana e le nuvole performed at the Ateneo Bruni.

Completing the programme of the 47th edition of Martina Franca’s Festival are the great voices of opera. American soprano Angela Meade, at her debut in our Festival, on 25thJuly.

We are delighted to confirm the cycle of recitals “Il canto degli ulivi” in historic country estates around the Valle d’Itria: four dates, featuring four female voices amongst the most refined and sophisticated on the European scenario. We start on the 20th July with soprano Julie Fuchs, then mezzosopranos Vivica Genaux (22 July) – accompanied by the Enea Barock Orchestra conducted by Valeria Montanari –, Marianna Pizzolato (27 July), and Veronica Simeoni (28 July). The cycle “Il canto degli ulivi” (a format which has substituted “L’opera in masseria” after health and safety restrictions) is one of the most sought-after appointments by our audience, as well as being one of the most iconic of the whole Festival della Valle d’Itria experience; the richness of the territory combines with the deepest nature of the event: it’s all about voices, and Belcanto tradition. For the third year running, accompanying the Festival in this event series is the Consorzio di Tutela del Primitivo di Manduria, offering the audience tastings of one of the most appreciated DOC products, at the end of every show.

The evening of the 2nd August there’s the traditional awarding of the Premio del Belcanto “Rodolfo Celletti”, which this year goes to the celebrated conductor Richard Bonynge, protagonist of historic and now almost legendary performances and recordings of Belcanto, together with Joan Sutherland, his life partner to whom the award is also extended in memoriam. The award is followed by the Concerto del Belcanto with one of today’s most celebrated performers of the genre: soprano Lisette Oropoesa with the Orchestra del Teatro Petruzzelli conducted by Christopher Franklin.

Another appointment not to be missed is the “Concerto per lo spirito” (26 July) set in the Baroque frame of the Basilica di San Martino. This year’s protagonist is Scarlatti and Porpora’s sacred music performed by Raffaele Pe and the Coro Ghislieri, accompanied by musicians of La Lira di Orfeo conducted by Giulio Prandi.

At the Chiostro di San Domenico we have two homages to composers whose anniversaries fall this year: for the 50th of Igor Stravinskij’s death on the 21st July, the Gromoglasova piano Duet will perform pieces by the Russian composer, by Darius Milhaud, and Béla Bartók; on the 18th and 19th July there’s our appointment with the semi-staged production of Le dernier sorcier, chamber opera by French composer Pauline Viardot, commemorating the bicentenary of her birth. The score is written with didactic and demonstrative aims showing the potential of Belcanto technique, performed by the young artists of the Accademia del Belcanto “Rodolfo Celletti”. The supervision of the musical preparation of the project is in the trusted hands of Carmen Santoro. Concert master at the piano is Curro Soriano. Director Davide Garattini Raimondi will take care of staging the production. This project is an international co-production with the Zamora Littleopera Festival.

The Festival della Valle d’Itria ends on the 5thAugust at the Palazzo Ducale with a closing concert dedicated to the music of Astor Piazzolla, on the centenary of his birth: tenor Joseph Calleja is the protagonist, at his Martina Franca debut, accompanied by the virtuoso of Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi’s bandoneon, and the Orchestra ICO della Magna Grecia conducted by Gianluca Marcianò.

We are pleased to continue our partnerships with some of the major businesses of our territory, which given this particular time in history have decided to support our social and cultural mission. For 2021 we already have three partners from our area, with more following over the next few weeks: aside from the Consorzio di Tutela del Primitivo di Manduria, Martina Franca’s Festival is supported by Masseria Torre Maizza / A Rocco Forte Hotel, “Platinum Partner” of the 47th edition, and Rolex, who have chosen our Festival publications as a promotional channel.