The programme for the 48th edition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria: five centuries of history of opera

The programme for the 48th edition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria: five centuries of history of opera
Opening on the 19th July at Martina Franca’s Palazzo Ducale with Le joueur by Prokof’ev directed by David Pountney, based on Dostoevskij’s The Gambler in the French version of the 1929 debut.
To follow, Beatrice di Tenda by Bellini with Giuliana Gianfaldoni and Celso Albelo, conducted by Fabio Luisi with the Orchestra del Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari.
World premiere of Opera Italiana by Nicola Campogrande,with libretto by Elio and Piero Bodrato.
In the newly-refurbished Teatro Verdi, Il Xerse by Francesco Cavalli with Carlo Vistoli, directed by Leo Muscato and conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli
Pretty Yende and Anna Pirozzi star in concert and in “Il canto degli ulivi” around ‘masseria’ country estates with Andrea Mastroni, Giulia Semenzato, and the ensembles I Bassifondi and Trio Kronthaler
A new feature for 2022 is the series “L’opera al cinema” with the viewing of the film-opera Gianni Schicchi by Damiano Michieletto and the live performance conducted by Timothy Brock of the soundtracks of two masterpieces by Cecil B. DeMille and Charlie Chaplin, inspired by Carmen

From the 19th to the 6thAugust 2022, Martina Franca turns once again into the capital of belcanto, of music rarities, and unusual listening experiences, under Apulian skies and among cloisters, Baroque churches, and centuries-old olive groves. Here comes the 48th edition of the Festival della Valle d’Itria, which every year brings together aficionados from all over the world to discover ancient repertoires, rare works, and brand new scores. The 2022 programme is by artistic director Sebastian F. Schwarz and music director Fabio Luisi, with the supervision of Franco Punzi, President of the Fondazione Paolo Grassi, the production body of the Festival.

«The beginning of Sebastian F. Schwarz’ direction – comments President Franco Punzi – inaugurates a new phase for the Festival della Valle d’Itria, though our characterising traits and values remain the same: rare or under-appreciated works, adherence to the original text thanks to authoritative critical editions, and specialist performers. To this we can add the new availability of Martina Franca’s Teatro Verdi, which will be one of the festival’s venues. Our festival is close to hitting half a century, therefore we cannot but strengthen our collaborations with Puglia’s cultural institutions, local administrations, and an increasingly qualified pool of sponsors and patrons».

The spotlights of the Palazzo Ducale go onon the 19th July, with the new production of Le joueur by Sergej Prokof’ev (repeats on the 24thand 30thJuly, 6thAugust). The celebrated opera by the Russian composer, based on the novel The Gambler by Fëdor Dostoevskij, to this day considered his first important score for music theatre, will be performed in Martina Franca. Not in its “traditional” version of the Russian libretto (titled Igrok and accused of Modernism in its home country), but in the rarer French version by Paul Spaak. This was the version of the premiere in 1929 at Brussels’ Théâtre Royale de la Monnaie. This title is an homage to the Russian author, whose birth bicentenary occurred in 2021. Conducting the Orchestra del Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari – with us for the third year running – is JanLatham Koenig; the director is one of the maestros of our time, David Pountney, while scenes and costumes are by Leila Fteita; light design by Alessandro Carletti. Among the singers, soprano Maritina Tampakopoulos – whose voice is rapidly receiving international applause – stars as Pauline; Sergej Radchenkoas Alexis, and Silvia Beltramias La Grand-Mère. For the first time in Martina Franca we have the Coro del Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari, directed by Fabrizio Cassi.

Another debut at the Palazzo Ducale is Beatrice di Tenda (1833) by Vincenzo Bellini (23rd and 26th July). It is a little-performed opera by the great composer from Catania, staged in Martina Franca in concert form withthe festival’s music director Fabio Luisi on the podium, conducting some of the most loved belcanto voices of our time: Giuliana Gianfaldoni in the title role, and Celso Albelo as Orombello; Theresa Kronthaler as Agnese del Maino, Biagio Pizzuti as Filippo Maria Visconti, and Joan Falqué as Rizzardo del Maino. For this production Orchestra and Choir are also of the Teatro Petruzzelli di Bari.

This year the Festival della Valle d’Itria returns to the newly-refurbished Teatro Verdi in Martina Franca, which will see the Baroque work Il Xerse (1655) by Francesco Cavalli (25th, 29th, 31stJuly) – in the new critical edition by Sara Elisa Stangalino and Hendrik Schulze for Bärenreiter. For this performance we confirm the collaboration with Federico Maria Sardelli and the Orchestra Barocca Modo Antiquo. We have another return for this production: Martina Franca director Leo Muscato, with Andrea Belli (scenes), Giovanna Fiorentini (costumes), and Alessandro Carletti (light design). The leading role of the King of Persia is performed by countertenor Carlo Vistoli; alongside him are Carolina Lippo (Romilda), Ekaterina Protsenko (Amastre), Dioklea Hoxha (Adelanta), and Carlo Allemano (Ariodate).

The Fondazione Paolo Grassi will dedicate to composer Francesco Cavalli a day of studies on the occasion of the debut of the opera. Coordinated by musicologist Dinko Fabris, Martina Franca will host scholars and experts of one of the top 17th century musicians, in collaboration with the Study Group “Cavalli and 17th-century Venetian Opera” from the International Musicological Society (IMS).

This year, the audience of the Festival della Valle d’Itria can see a world premiere on the 3rdand 5thAugust at the Palazzo Ducale: Opera italiana (2010) by Nicola Campogrande, written between 2008 and 2010 commissioned by the Comitato Italia 150 (for the celebrations for Italy’s Unity, 1861-2011), painting a portrait of contemporary Italy. The libretto, written by Elio and Piero Bodrato, tells a story which takes place during three periods in recent history: the ‘60s and ‘70s, the ‘80s, and present day. Alessandro Cadario conducts the Orchestra del Petruzzelli; Tommaso Franchin is the director; both are rising to great success lately. Scenes are by Fabio Carpene, costumes by Giada Masi, and light design by Alessandro Carletti; in the cast we have Francesca Sassu (Opera), Candida Guida (Scellerata), Andrea Mastroni (Balconi), Raffaele Abate (Soldini), Gurgen Baveyan (Mario), and Claudio Bonfiglio (Player).

Closing the circle of the five centuries of opera history, on the 27th July at the Palazzo Ducale we have an 18th-century score, in concert form: La scuola de’ gelosi by Antonio Salieri, part of the training of the singing students of the Accademia del Belcanto “Rodolfo Celletti” and the young musicians of the Conservatoire “Nino Rota” in Monopoli, an institution with which the Festival has started a new collaboration, and which forms the orchestra ensemble conducted by Danila Grassi.

Two stars will be the protagonists of as many events which already promise to be unmissable: South African soprano Pretty Yende will perform on the 2nd August at the Chiostro di Sant’Antonio in Taranto – accompanied on the piano by Giulio Zappa – in a programme of arias and belcanto pieces from operas by Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini: a repertoire which has made her famous globally.On the 4th August we have Anna Pirozzi with the Quartetto Lirico Italiano and pianist Francesco Rosa, in a programme made up of songs and opera arias from the Italian music tradition, for which the Neapolitan soprano is known all over the world as a great performer.

A novelty for 2022 is the “L’opera al cinema” series, with two events: the first, on the 20th July, at the Teatro Verdi, with the film-opera Gianni Schicchi, a cinema adaptation of the work by Giacomo Puccini by director Damiano Michieletto, presented for the first time at the Torino Film Festival in 2021. On the 21st July we have Silent Carmen: at the Palazzo Ducale we will show Carmen by Cecil B. DeMille (1915), and A Burlesque on Carmen by Charlie Chaplin (1915). Timothy Brock, specialised in soundtracks, conducts the Orchestra della Magna Grecia who will play the soundtracks live (the first of which was restored by Brock himself).

“Il canto degli ulivi” is the format which brings the Festival’s music in the local masserie country estates. This year we have three dates: on the 20th July at the Masseria Capece in Cisternino we have the ensemble I Bassifondi (Gabriele Miracle, percussions; Stefano Todarello, colascione and sordellina; Simone Vallerotonda, thiorba, guitar, and conductor). To open the series we have a programme titled “Alfabeto falso”, featuring a performance of Renaissance and Baroque pieces. On the 22nd July at the Masseria Belvedere in Mottola we have a recital by Andrea Mastroni, accompanied on the piano by Vincenzo Rana with some of the most celebrated arias for bass: from Handel to Gershwin. On the 1st August at the Masseria Palesi in Martina Franca soprano Giulia Semenzanto, accompanied on the guitar by Jadran Duncumb, brings an elegant programme of Romantic music.

A triple appointment – on the 28th July at the Chiostro di San Domenico in Martina Franca, the 29th July at the Masseria del Duca in Crispiano, and the 31st July with a special concert in Salento –with German mezzo Theresa Kronthaler and her Trio Kronthaler with a programme from the award-winning CD The living loving maid with transcriptions of pieces by Monteverdi, Purcell, Frescobaldi, Handel, in a crossoverproject highlighting the timelessness of masterpieces, aimed at drawing a non-expert audience closer to ancient music.

We couldn’t miss the traditional Concerto per lo spirito (28thJuly) in the Basilica di San Martino. This year, the protagonists are the Orchestra Barocca Modo Antiquo, and the singers of the Accademia del Belcanto “Rodolfo Celletti”. The programme features sacred repertoire by Monteverdi, Castello, and Cima.

For the 48th edition we are proud to boast the support of Rolex, who once again have chosen to promote the Festival, and the “Platinum Partner” Consorzio di Tutela del Primitivo di Manduria, who at the end of every concert in the “Il canto degli ulivi” series, as well as the events on the 28th and 29th July with the Trio Kronthaler, will show the product of the canteens of one of the most famous Italian DOC wines.

Tickets for the shows are already available for purchase on the website, on the Vivaticket website, and in the over 700 retail points all over Italy. In the provinces of Taranto and Bari only there are 73 authorised retail points. Find the closest one to you on Tickets have a maximum cost of 70 euros for a seat in the central stalls for the opening night of the 19thJuly at the Palazzo Ducale, and all the way to 5 euros. All the shows have reductions for over-65s and under-30s. Furthermore, with the sole exception of the opening night, the residents of Martina Franca have a 50% discount on total ticket prices.

For 2022 we are implementing the promotion “Ambasciatore del Festival”: by purchasing two tickets for any given show in the programme, you are entitled to a third ticket for 3 euros only, either for the same date and show (option available also online) or for another date and show (option available only at the Festival’s box office, open and operative from the 1st July).

The illustration for the 48th edition of the Festival was created by Caterina Maiullari, selected among 35 proposals by the students of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Bari, an institution with which the Festival has set up a collaboration over the past few months,to enable young artists to come in contact with the working world right from their training phase.