The first musical festival ever to be held in Italy is still in production today. In 1933 Vittorio Gui founded the festival to bring old operas back into the spotlight with tremendous flair. The Maggio Musicale Fiorentino was the first musical festival ever established in Italy and today is held in late April through June with typically four operas in production.
The Maggio Musicale Festival has expanded beyond opera however. The time of the festival in the late spring and the entire affair is now known as the heart of Florence’s music. This is a large distinction as music is such an important aspect of life in the city. The musical festival now contains opera productions as well as an annual concert and ballet performances.
Music has always been important to Florence. In the sixteenth century many of the first operas written were performed in the city, and it has long held a position of prominence in developing art forms. Florence was a progressive city both during the artistic Renaissance period as well as today with many of the opera and ballet performances contemporary as well as lesser known historical pieces.
Many of the world’s greatest musicians, singers and conductors have taken part in the festival over the years, beginning with Gui, and including other notables such as Richard Strauss, Wilhelm Furtwängler, and Maria Callas. Maggio Musicale Festival has taken on a great importance at a global level, and is now considered by many to be one of the most important music festivals in the world.
The festival has garnered attention for its dramatic interpretation of the operas which requires research and assistance from many of the great theatrical minds of the time as well as the decidedly cultural selection of the pieces. In many years themes are selected for the operas and other performances which bring forward pieces that might otherwise never find such widespread attention.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Florence during the season of the festival – May and June, be sure to research local productions and if possible obtain tickets to attend. Even if you are unable to attend the presentations during this important festival, there are inventive and important musical productions in Florence year-round. Be sure to experience a bit of Florence culture while visiting the city.
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