47th Festival della Valle d’Itria
17th July – 5th August 2021
“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.
Fabio Luisi conductor
Fabio Ceresa director
Franz Joseph Haydn (Rohrau 1732 – Vienna 1809), demiurge of the so-called “Wiener Klassik” from whom all composers at least up to Brahms took inspiration for their symphonies and chamber works, also wrote a few oratorios. Die Schöpfung is an oratorio in three parts, with libretto by Baron Gottfried van Swieten (in whose circles some of the best musicians in Vienna, including Mozart, were introduced to Bach’s music). It was inspired by Milton’s Paradise Lost, and is rich in symphonic passages. Since the 19th century it is customary to perform the work also in Italian, in the adaptation by Giovanni Simone Mayr, and here in Martina Franca with the translation by philologist Dario Del Corno, already staged in Martina Franca in 1988 and now revised by his son Filippo, composer.
George Petrou conductor
Rosetta Cucchi director
Alessandro Scarlatti (Palermo 1660 – Naples 1725) is the father of music drama and of da capo aria (not to mention of Domenico, the cusp of Baroque keyboard creativity). He composed La Griselda with libretto by Apostolo Zeno, re-worked by an anonymous author – possibly the dedicatee Francesco Maria Ruspoli – and based on the final tale of Boccaccio’d Decameron (set between Sicily and Apulia). It was a very successful text, set to music by a number of composers: from Albinoni to Paër and Massenet. The opera was staged in 1721 in Rome’s Teatro Capranica with a cast of acclaimed castratos including Antonio Bernacchi, Giacinto Fontana known as “Il farfallino”, and Giovanni Carestini.
Nicola Porpora (Naples 1686-1768) contributed decisively to the distribution and success of Neapolitan opera in Austria and Germany. He was a great connoisseur of all the secrets of vocal virtuosity; among his works features L’Angelica, serenata (a dramatic cantata usually performed in the open air), with libretto by Pietro Metastasio inspired by the poetry of Ariosto and Boiardo. It was performed for the first time in Naples in 1720 at the palace of the Prince of Torella, on the occasion of the birthday celebrations of Empress Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick. It was then that Porpora’s most famous pupil, then fifteen years old, made his debut: Carlo Broschi, better known as Farinelli.
Among the immense repertoire of Franz Schubert (Vienna 1797-1828), maestro of disquietude and of the poetics which saw the decline of Classicism, Winterreise is the most-performed and celebrated series of Lieder (works for voice and piano, sung in German, in this case with words by Wilhelm Müller). This is also due to its narrative organicity, which has inspired several interpretations, to infuse and complement the score and piano-voice duet with imaginative inspirations and dramatic, scenic, and choreographic suggestions.
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.
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 George 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 Ekaterina 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.
At the Chiostro di San Domenico, 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 Francisco Soriano. Director Davide Garattini Raimondi will take care of staging the production. This project is an international co-production with the Zamora Littleopera Festival.