Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is an annual arts festival in Florence, including a notable opera festival; it was founded in April 1933 by conductor Vittorio Gui with the aim of presenting contemporary and forgotten operas in visually dramatic productions. It was the first music festival in Italy. The first opera presented was Verdi’s early Nabucco, his early operas then being rarely staged. It now takes place between late April, May and into June, typically with four operas.
Florence is not only the breeding ground of Italian Renaissance but it is the city from where western musical tradition began and this musical festival which is still the top classical music festival in the country is a testimony to this tradition.
The history of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
The first festival’s success (which included two performances of Spontini’s La Vestale with Rosa Ponselle) led to it becoming a biennial event in 1937 with the presentation of nine operas, but after 1937, it became an annual festival, except during the Second World War. Performances take place in the Teatro Comunale and Teatro Piccolo (as the name suggests, for smaller-scale operas), plus the historic Teatro della Pergola. A new opera house (Teatro dell’Opera di Firenze) was inaugurated in 2011 and permanently replaced the former Teatro Comunale in 2014.
Former musical directors were Vittorio Gui (1928-1936), Mario Rossi (1937-1946), Bruno Bartoletti (1957-1964), and Riccardo Muti (1969-1981). The present Artistic Director is Paolo Arcà and, since 1985, the principal conductor is Zubin Mehta.
In 2009, due to government funding cuts, two of the four operas (Billy Budd and Macbeth) were cancelled.
This year the festival is going to commemorate the 200th birthday of two of the most prolific classical composers, Verdi and Wagner with concerts conducted by former and present music director of famous theater, La Scala. Come and get the most attractive music festival in Italy.