The 84th Maggio Festival: Mythology, Love & Fable
The LXXXIV Festival del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will run from April to July, 2022. Breaking from tradition, the festival will last for three months, and will include six operas, some never before performed at the Teatro del Maggio, and a number of symphonic concerts. The uniting theme is Mythology, Love and Fable. Of the six titles, five will be new productions, with the cooperation of some of the finest artists on the world stage.
Gluck’s “Orphée et Euridice” will be presented for the first time in Florence in the French version. Twelve years after the 1762 premiere, Gluck re-adapted the opera to suit the tastes of Parisian audiences with a libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline which debuted on August 2, 1774 at the Académie Royale de Musique. Daniele Gatti will conduct, making his lyric debut as the new Music Director at the Maggio. The new production will be staged by the Lebanese director, Pierre Audi. The ballet scene will be performed by graduates of the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala. April 12 – 23.
Henrik Nánási conducts Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette,” never before performed at the Maggio. Focusing on the romance between the star-crossed lovers, the opera is best known for four ravishing love duets between Romeo and Juliet. The opera premiered in Paris in 1867 and was a huge success for Gounod. Juan Diego Flórez, one of the most renowned tenors today, and Valentina Naforniță star in the title roles. April 27 – May 8.
In a revival of Jonathan Miller’s well-loved 1992 production at the Teatro della Pergola, Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” returns to the Maggio Festival led by Marc Minkowski. Composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart with an Italian libretto written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, this opera buffa in four acts premiered in Vienna on May 1, 1786. The opera’s libretto is based on the 1784 stage comedy by Pierre Beaumarchais. Considered one of the finest operas ever written, the story follows the events of one rocambolesche day in a chaotic whirlwind of mistaken identities, intrigues and plot twists. The servants Figaro and Susanna finally succeed in getting married, foiling the efforts of their philandering employer Count Almaviva to seduce Susanna and in the end, teach him a lesson in fidelity. The cast includes Alessandro Luongo, Kirsten MacKinnon, Luca Micheletti and Benedetta Torre. May 7 – 19.
For the first time ever, Verdi’s opera “I Due Foscari” comes to the stage at the Maggio. Based on the omonimo play by Lord Byron, it was first performed in Rome in 1844 and was one of Verdi’s most important early successes. The plot, set in Venice in the mid-15th century, is loosely based on the true story of the downfall of the doge Francesco Foscari and his son Jacopo. Plácido Domingo, one of the worlds most acclaimed operatic singers, will star in the role of the Doge. Jonathan Tetelman will star as Jacopo with Carlo Rizzi conducting a production by Grischa Asagaroff. May 22 – June 3.
Daniele Gatti conducts Strauss’ “Ariadne auf Naxos” (premiered in 1912) with the singers Krassimira Stoyanova, AJ Glueckert, Jessica Pratt, Liviu Holender, Michelle Losier, and Markus Werba. Richard Strauss’s lighthearted opera within an opera is a knowing look at the world behind the curtain, combining humor with coloratura virtuosity and lush melodies. The story takes place in the 18th century at the home of Vienna’s richest man. The Music Master is dismayed to learn that the “opera seria” Ariadne auf Naxos, composed by his pupil as the evening’s main entertainment, will be followed by a comedic interlude. The Composer is even more disoriented when he learns that the host, in order to gain time, wants everything to be presented as one performance. Despite the Composer’s protests, the opera unfolds amidst the eccentric performances of the commedia dell’arte characters led by the lively and daring Zerbinetta. The production is signed by Matthias Hartmann. June 7 – 18.
The final operatic offering on the bill is Lully’s “Acis et Galatée,” which will will be offered for the first time at the Maggio. Jean-Baptiste Lully was born in Florence on November 28, 1632 and moved to Paris when he was 14. Considered a master of the French Baroque music he became the royal composer at the court of Louis XIV. The story is of a love triangle between the three main characters—the mortal Acis, the sea-nymph Galatea, and the cyclops Polyphemus. Polyphemus murders Acis out of jealousy, but Acis is revived and transformed into a river by Galatea. The opera will be conducted by Federico Maria Sardelli and directed by Benjamin Lazar. July 4 – 11.
The suggestive Cavea del Maggio will host the Festival’s offering to the younger audience. The show is inspired by Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida and is titled ‘Ayda, fatal love’. The staging, writing and costumes are all entrusted to Manu Lalli and Giuseppe La Malfa will take the podium with the Ensemble of the Music School of Fiesole. Along with the actors of the Venti Lucenti company, 400 pupils from primary and secondary schools in Florence will take part in the production. June 6, 8, 9.
Daniele Gatti conducts the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino along with the Chorus and the Children’s choir in two works inspired by ancient Greek mythology Monteverdi’s “Lamento d’Arianna” and Stravinsky’s “Persephone.” Juan Francisco Gatell will be the tenor soloist. April 26.
Myung-Whun Chung returns to the podium with a symphonic program featuring works by Debussy and Ravel with an eye to the Ancient Greeks with the ‘Prélude a l’après-midi d’un faune’ and the ‘Daphnis et Chloé ballet Suite n. 1’. The second half of the concert offers the Symphony n. 6 ‘Pathetique’, the final symphony by Pëtr Il’ič Tchaikovsky. June 22.
AJ Glueckert, Judit Kutasi, Alex Esposito, Luca Bernard, and Massimo Popolizio star in Stravinsky’s monumental “Oedipus Rex”, the opera-oratorio on a text by Jean Cocteau. Daniele Gatti conducts. June 30.
Zubin Mehta leads the Orchestra and Chorus del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with soloists Mandy Fredrich, Marie-Claude Chappuis, AJ Glueckert, and Florian Boesch. This concert for Florence will be held in the outdoor cavea of the Teatro and will be free of charge. July 13.
To close the festival, Maestro Mehta returns with Beethoven’s Ouverture and excerpts from the ballet “The Creatures of Prometheus.” Tchaikovsky follows with the “Rococo Variations” for cello and orchestra with Antonio Meneses and the Symphony n. 4 in F minor, op. 36. July 14. (anne lokken)