ReGeneration Festival: Free Boboli Concerts

Prato delle Colonne, venue of the ReGeneration Festival

The ReGeneration Festival is reawakening arts and culture in Florence after the coronavirus pandemic brought months of quiet and hardship to the Renaissance city, with no-cost concert tickets this week available online.  

A spinoff of the annual New Generation Festival normally held in the Corsini Garden, the ReGeneration Festival will take place from August 26 to August 29 at the Prato delle Colonne of the Boboli Gardens, featuring a variety of socially-distanced concerts and productions. The event is a unique opportunity for all ages to enjoy music and theatre performed by talented, rising artists of the generation in an atmosphere that is symbolic of the Renaissance and the arts. Unlike the festivals of previous years, for which opening night tickets could cost up to €250, the ReGeneration Festival is free — starting August 17, limited tickets will be available for reservation on the New Generation Festival website.

“La Cenerentola,” a comedic opera and adaptation by Rossini of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella fairy tale, will be the festival’s opening performance on Wednesday, August 26 as well as the grand finale on Saturday, August 29. It will be directed by Jean-Romain Vesperini and conducted by Sándor Károyli. On Thursday, August 27, Daniele Rustioni will conduct the Italian Youth Orchestra in an interpretation of the overture of “The Marriage of Figaro,” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Concert for cello no. 1,” by Joseph Haydn, and “Symphony no. 7 in A major, op. 52” by Ludwig van Beethoven. A late-night concert will follow, delivered by the pioneering pianist Dan Tepfer, who is known for intersecting music with natural and mechanical processes.

Friday, August 28 will bring an evening of jazz, headlining the Three Divas — American musicians Anush Hovhannisyan, Shenel Johns and Veronica Swift.  The audience can expect to hear a wide range of music: operatic arias, Broadway hits and jazz standards. Friday’s entertainment also includes performances by Sam Jewison, Dominick Farinacci, Yasushi Nakamura, and Dan Tepfer. The concert is co-produced with Piers Playfair, founder of the Catskill Jazz Factory, an advocacy organization dedicated to sustaining jazz careers.

There will be many free collateral happenings throughout Florence.  On August 26 (6:30 pm), violinist Charlie Siem will play pieces from the balcony of Palazzo Vecchio.  Beginning at 7 pm, the Pitti Palace courtyard will host chamber music groups from the Fiesole Music School, the Cherubini Conservatory, the Maggio and Chigiana academies.  After each recital onstage at Boboli’s Prato delle Colonne, the Manifattura Tabacchi (a former factory converted into a center of contemporary culture) will host DJ sets with special guest artist DJ John Swing (Francesco Giannini) on final night, August 29.

To ensure the safety of its spectators, the festival will be following rigorous health and safety procedures, including social distancing, temperature checks, and mandating the wearing of masks. Converging today’s safety standards with the traditions of Renaissance carnivals, the festival encourages guests to wear “original social-distancing outfits such as vintage crinoline dresses.”

Founded in 2017, the New Generation Festival is the creation of Maximilian Fane, Roger Granville and Frankie Parham — three young British producers who hoped to spark creativity through the connection of art forms, cultures and generations. This year’s twist on the annual festival is brought to Florence by these producers along with the support of the Mascarade Opera Foundation and the Uffizi Galleries.

“We want this homage to be the beginning of a new start,” the founders said of the ReGeneration Festival, adding that a higher cultural effort was needed to revive the arts and culture sector, which has been suffering from the pandemic. As described by the ReGeneration Festival’s manifesto, the event offers a chance to use art and expression in the most critical moments of history, stating, “We are aware that it is never more necessary than in this moment that all people engaged in the world of art and culture collaborate in order to build the necessary foundations for rebirth.”   (victoria caruso)