Founded in 1990 by Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, Ravenna Festival has always been characterized by an artistic programme including all types of performing arts: symphonic and chamber music, opera, drama, dance, ballet, musical theatre, jazz, and ethnic music. Every year from May to July, the entire city becomes a stage for two months: its staggering gilded basilicas, encrusted with ancient mosaics, its elegant historical theatres, its cloisters, ancient buildings, the industrial heritage sites, but also its beaches and its pine forest, where Dante was hosted, and further off, the gently rolling hills peeping from the distant horizon…
These extraordinary places – it is worth remembering here that 8 monuments in Ravenna are UNESCO World Heritage sites – and a multidisciplinary vocation are the distinctive features that make the Ravenna Festival unique and contribute to rediscover a city which used to be a crossroad of peoples and cultures. The Artistic Direction yearly defines a rich programme centred on a culturally and artistically relevant theme.
Many topics have already been dealt with and thoroughly examined: from the most specifically musical themes of the very beginnings (“Salieri and the Vienna School” in 1990, “Around Rossini”, “Bellini and Wagner”, etc.) to the more visionary ones, which projected Ravenna – a subject and an object at one and the same time – into new soulscapes: the Mediterranean, the East, the Apocalypse, visions, deserts and pilgrimages, in a mix of popular and fairy tale, sacred and profane…down to the history of the twentieth century. Over the years the Festival has dealt with crucial events such as the First World War or the Russian Revolution, and paid homage to icons such as Nelson Mandela or Dante Alighieri.
Since 1997, the year of the first historic concert in Sarajevo, the route of the Ravenna Festival has been closely intertwined with “The Roads of Friendship”, a series of lay pilgrimages touching on cities wounded by war, re-establishing ancient ties to places that have made history and building “bridges of brotherhood”. Leading on these paths as a cultural ambassador to the world is Riccardo Muti, with orchestras and choirs that, in line with the spirit of brotherhood that animates these concerts and in the name of the universality of music, have regularly welcomed some local musicians and given life to unforgettable events in such symbolic sites as Beirut, Jerusalem, Moscow, Yerevan, Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, Nairobi, Mirandola, Redipuglia, Otranto, Tokyo, and Tehran.