30 June-17 Sept 2006. This must be one of the most breathtaking stages in the world. At the edge of the gardens of Villa Rufolo, it jutts out dramatically from the cliff as if suspended in thin air, the backdrop is the amazing blue sea and the gentle curves of the Amalfi coast. The festival derives from a series of previous initiatives which make it the oldest of the Italian festivals after the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. The association of Wagners name with Villa Rufolo, a place made splendid and welcoming by the Scottish philanthropist Francis Neville Reid, was apparently too tempting not to suggest the idea of holding concerts at this site, blessed, besides, by the great composer in person. Thus, in the 1930s the orchestra of the S. Carlo Theatre in Naples played a couple of times, with a programme connected to Wagner. The initiative really took form some 20 years later, thanks to the commitment of the Provincial Board of Tourism, and in the summer of 1953, on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the death of Wagner, the Wagnerian concert in the gardens of Klingsor (as the cover of the programme notes stated) started with two evenings given over to the Orchestra of the S. Carlo Theatre. From the mid-1970s the festival has benefited from the artistic consultation of Roman Vlad. For years Wagner has remained the tutelary deity of the festival and the key symphonic event of every edition is still devoutly set aside for his music. But the festival is today rich and varied with a programme that includes all of the arts and takes place in many of the beautiful Ravello venues.
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