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Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Operas were performed in Florence in the 16th century and they still thrive in this city which has an exciting artistic life. The "Maggio Musicale Fiorentino" or the "May Florentine Music Festival" is conducted in the romantic city of Florence, Italy and runs from early May through end of June. The Music festival takes place in Teatro della Pergola. The annual event, along with Bayreuth and Salzburg is one of Europe’s oldest and most important events. The festival showcases some of the best musicians from all over the world and includes a range of entertainment like classical music, opera, ballet, and recitals. There is a famous rumor that Mussolini himself suggested the name for the festival.

The Teatro Comunale
Built in 1862, the theatre can seat 2000 people and has two semi circular galleries like an amphitheatre. It was originally called the Politeama Fiorentino and was designed by Telemaco Bonaiutiian. The Piccolo Teatro of the Comunale is a small theatre which can hold about 600 people. The theatre was earlier twice partially destroyed by air raids and floods (in 1944 and 1960 respectively), but on both occasions been hastily restored affirming the city’s affection to the theatre and also the sense of responsibility they owed to it.

The Festival
Florence’s musical tradition has pivoted around the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino for quite some time. Great conductors like Vittorio Gui, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Zubin Mehta, and von Karajan, singers like the incomparable Maria Callas (who debuted here) not to mention the composers like Pietro Mascagni and Richard Strauss have performed at this festival. Some outstanding directors and set designers like Max Reinhardt, Gustav Grundgens, and Bob Wilson have also been part of the show before. The festival was founded in 1933 by Vittorio Gui and it enjoys the reputation of being the oldest Italian music festival and one of the most important ones in the international calendar. Starting off as a triennial event, it became an annual event by 1937. Not only does the music capture ones attention here, but the visual aspects of the events are equally stunning. Over the years many famous painters and sculptors have been invited to collaborate with the organizers in designing the seats and attires. Ricardo Muti was a permanent conductor from 1969 to 1981 and in fact he became famous after his performances in this theatre. Later, in 1985, Zubin Mehta took over though there have been some guest principal conductors along with him.

Over the years there have been ‘theme’ festivals which have revealed certain periods in the history of music. An example would be the Rossini Maggio in ‘52 , ’64, ’94, and ’95 the last three dedicated to Expressionism, the early twentieth century and early Romanticism respectively.

The Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino first came into existence in 1928 and that time it was called Stabile Orhestrale Fiorentina. This is composed of 120 musicians and has been acclaimed by many for its wide operatic and symphonic repertory ranging from baroque to contemporary music.

The Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino was formed in 1933 under the aegis of Andrea Morosini. The chorus consists of 100 members and it includes many symphonic orchestrations and chamber music as well in its repertoire. Over and above all this, it has also carried out premieres of works by many composers of our time-Nono, Petrassi etc. This ability of the Chorus to interpret works of different periods and styles in the original language has brought it wide critical acclaim.

Florence has mild weather in May and June and the crowd can escape the heat of the summer which comes 2-3 months down the year. Due to the many performances which are scheduled ever year, more than one theatre is used for the festival and generally the Maggio, the Verdi and the Pergola, the three major theatres in the city, are used.

Zubin Mehta-the principal conductor
The present-day Joust, managed by the Municipality of Arezzo, accommodates four contrades as participants. Quartiere di Porta Crucifera, Porta del Foro, Porta Sant'Andrea and Porta di Santo Spirito are the contrades that participate in this festival, each with its own flag, poster, symbol and color. But the most distinguishing feature of each contrade is the people themselves. The passion which the fans of each contrade exude is in itself a sight to watch. Dressed in the colors of the contrade, carrying flags, banners and various other colorful contrivances, the fans goad their favorite knights to victory.