A top-class festival that seems to be surviving the dire austerity measures. The festival, under the patronage of star conductor Riccardo Muti who has his home in Ravenna, confirms last year’s successful formula that extends the programme over the whole year: February saw a preview with Moses Pendeleton’s Alchemy; the central body of the festival is scheduled from May to mid-July, and then in November the Autumn Trilogy will focus on the relationship between Giuseppe Verdi and William Shakespeare. The theme chosen this year is Alchemie Popolari, which underscores the organisers’ intention to expand on the concept of "popular". So in this Verdian year the festival investigates the diffusion of Verdi's music outside opera houses, its transcriptions for a wide range of different instruments (from the piano and its many paraphrases to the "humbler" accordion and ocarina), and also for marching bands. Another of the festival's main focuses is on Ravenna and its popular music. Contemporary musicians have been asked to re-interpret the boundless repertoire of Romagna's liscio music and the influence on it of such musical traditions as Balkan brass bands, jazz, klezmer music, etc. Hence the decision to dedicate a special venue to folk music and dance for the festival. As always the programme is high flying with many treats for dance fans such as the presence of Matthew Bourne, Ivan Putrov, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Mark Morris. Opera fans can look forward to Macbeth, Falstaff and Othello, and a vast music programme includes many big stars such as cellist Yo Yo Ma, pianist Martha Argerich and a lovely programme of sacred music in Ravenna Byzantine basilicas. For booking and information, Teatro Alighieri tel. 0544249244, www.ravennafestival.org.
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