The not-to-miss shows between now and spring in the theatres of Florence
Your winter at the theater has never been so exciting...
It’s 420 years since melodrama was born in Florence, and ever since then the city has never lost its passion for the theatre. The fires of such fervour are stoked in the city’s three great, iconic theatres, the first of which is the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which owes its name to the famous festival that ever since 1933 has focused the world’s attention on this contemporary building by Leopolda Station. 10 minutes on foot from the Duomo, meanwhile, is the Teatro della Pergola, which, with its birthdate of 1656, is one of the oldest theatres in Europe and the place where the rulebook was written for theatrical architecture in Italy. It was also here, in 1834, that a young stagehand by the name of Antonio Meucci experimented with the first telephone in history. And the Teatro Verdi, which was built when Florence was a grand duchy on the site of the fourteenth-century Stinche prisons in the historic district of Santa Croce, is the biggest Italian-style theatre in Tuscany. These are the main theatres in the centre of Florence, and here are some of the theatrical hits that will come to them over the next few months.
TEATRO DEL MAGGIO MUSICALE FIORENTINO
Things augur well for the second half of the opera and concert seasons, which kicked off with such superb titles and productions. A new production of Händel’s Rinaldo, directed by Pier Luigi Pizzi, will be staged between 22 March and 3 April, with Federico Maria Sardelli in the conductor’s podium. The 20 January sees Riccardo Muti lead the Chicago Symphony Orchestra back to Florence after a 46-year absence, with an unmissable performance of Wagner’s, Hindemith’s and Prokoviev’s most memorable scores. James Conlon is expected on 7 February to helm the Maggio Orchestra for Dvoràk’s New World Symphony, one of the nineteenth century’s most rousing symphonic scores. And on the evening of 3 April conductor Zubin Mehta will serve up an all-Mozart programme, with Stefano Bollani at the piano for the 23rd Piano Concerto, and soprano Mojca Erdmann, tenor Berhard Berchtold and bass Goran Jurić for the Coronation Mass for soloists, choir and orchestra.
But the true energy of spring comes from the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival, now in its 83rd edition. The rich programme, covering 23 April - 23 July, includes 10 operas and 16 concert performances. The opening work is Lo sposo di tre o il marito di nessuna by Luigi Cherubini (other performances 26, 27 April and 6 May), an opera of rare quality, never staged in Florence until now. Diego Fasolis wields the conductor’s baton, Cesae Lievi is the director and Ruth Iniesta, René Barbera and Fabio Capitanucci take the leads. A comic drama of 1783, Lo sposo is a unique example of an opera written by a Florentine composer for a Venetian audience.
TEATRO DELLA PERGOLA
In the setting of stucco, plate glass and the Pergola’s seventeenth-century perfection, essential viewing includes a production running from 28 January to 2 February, in which Giusepe Battiston interprets a political symbol of the 1900s with Winston vs Churchill. From 3 to 8 March, Alessandro Gassman directs Daniele Russo in Fronte del Porto, the rewriting of a “cinematographic” story, which places Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando in 1940s Naples. Also not to miss is the show that Ferzan Özpetek brings to the stage from 31 March to 5 April, “his” Mine Vaganti (loose cannons). Then a national first as Giancarlo Sepe gives life to The Dubliners, taken from two of James Joyce’s Dubliners short stories - The Dead and Ivy Day - with an original and powerful reading, the staging of which hangs on an intense visual presentation.
From 23 to 26 January, the irresistible music of Edoardo Bennato and the directorial instinct of Maurizio Colombi combine in a musical that has won over people of all ages, Pinocchio Reloaded. We Will Rock You, the musical set in the future to the soundtrack of Queen’s greatest hits, arrives for 7 to 9 February, followed by Alice in Wonderland on 26 February from the Circus-Theatre Elysium, a circus that welcomes the most expert producers, directors and actors. A cast of thirty acrobat-atheletes and professional ballerinas will tell Lewis Carroll’s fairy tale through the most innovative of art forms. 7 March sees Legacy, Japanese drummers from the Island of Kado; and on 19 March, SGT Pepper, the concert that you have never seen before: the greatest album in the history of rock music transported to the stage for the first time, for an overwhelming sonic journey in the company of a 20-piece orchestra. On 21 March, Renzo Arbore comes with the Orchestra italiana, a wildly successful partnership that has been touring the world since 1991, selling out venues everywhere and hoovering up public and critical acclaim.