The summer has arrived and so too have the festivals and open-air opera seasons. The first to start is the Ravenna Festival. For the inauguration there will be Faust by Charles Gounod (18, 20 and 22 June), which sees Micha Van Hoecke directing, following on from his success in Verdis Macbeth last year. The conductor of the orchestra is Patrick Fournillier, who substitutes the late Gary Bertini to whose memory the opera is dedicated. There will then be concert with a large selection of arias from Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito (3 July); The protagonist is Ildebrando DArcangelo and conductor, Riccardo Muti. It is interesting to listen and to compare the two works, because both are taken from Goethes Faust and represent two different visions of the same theme. Following on with the theme of temptation and sin, Sancta Susanna by Paul Hindemith will be performed on 29 June: it is a single act opera typical of 1900 German expressionism this time in the form of a concert and directed by Riccardo Muti. For information tel. 0544249244, fax 0544215840, www.ravennafestival.org.
Running at the same time as the Ravenna Festival, there will be the 83rd opera season in Veronas open-air amphitheatre. There are five works scheduled. The inaugural opera is La Gioconda by Amilcare Ponchielli (17 June-30 July). The work has not been performed since 1988 in Verona and this year, it returns in a new production for which the directing, scenes and costumes are by Pier Luigi Pizzi. There will also be a new performance of La Bohme by Puccini (9 July-20 August). The director is Arnaud Bernard with conducting by Daniel Oren; but Fiorenza Cedolins and Marcelo Alvarez as the protagonists are the main attractions.
The other opera productions have been seen in Verona over the past years. Nabucco by Verdi (18 June-26 August), directed by Graziano Gregori and with the much-loved Leo Nucci as protagonist. Aida by Verdi (23 June- 31 August) is one of the most popular works of the summer in Verona and returns with the pharaonic production by Franco Zeffirelli. The last opera on the programme is Turandot by Puccini (13-20 August). This is the 2003 production with Andrea Gruber as soprano and Jos Cura as tenor (Cura will also sing in Aida on the 23 and 26 June). For more information tel. 0458005151, www.arena.it.
Paolo Di Nicola
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Ravenna Festival, www.ravennafestival.org. Arena di Verona, www.arena.it.