30 June-16 July 2006. Still at the head of the creation to which he has dedicated half a century of work and energy, 95-year-old composer Gian Carlo Menotti has put all managerial responsibility into the hands of his Scottish son Francis, who, in broken Italian, thanked journalists and friends present at the presentation of the festival for being there after a particularly difficult year. In fact this delightful arts festival that has taken place in the beautiful Umbrian town of Spoleto for some years has been feeling the financial crunch that is crippling the arts world in Italy. However the prestige and the charm of the Spoleto Festival still shine bright, and although the programme dwindles year by year, it still offers a dignified 15-day run of opera, music, dance and drama as well as its traditional monographic film series and cycles of debates on science and economics. The inaugural concert stars the 25-year-old Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel on the podium for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Israel and pianist Yundi Li. Probably the most interesting item on the calander is the first ever modern production of Vivaldis opera Ercole sul Termodonte with a mythological text and a modern staging. Dance features the usual line-up of stars in Piazza del Duomo as well as two newcomers to Italy, the Spectrum Dance Theatre and The Creative Outlook Dance Theatre. There is also a dive into avantgarde experimentation with a performance called Box Office Bad Faith by the Colin Poole Company and The Hospital by the Jo Stomgren Company. The drama section hosts the increasingly popular series of Great Trials in which real attornies take on controversial historical trials. Music, of which there is much throughout the festival, includes chamber music, sacred music, symphonic music and recitals with guests such as Alexander Liebreich, Cristine Brewer, Gautier Capucon and the ever-faithful Jean Yves Thibaudet.

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Address For booking and information tel. 074345028.

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49th Festival Dei Due Mondi.

For booking and information tel. 074345028.