Anteprima 27 April
Allegromosso 16-17 May
Nobilissima visione 9 June - 15 July
Trilogia d’autunno 9-18 November
The theme of Ravenna Festival builds on a central core, or “heart”: the millennium of the Holy Hermitage of Camaldoli, founded by Saint Romuald, a Benedictine monk from Ravenna. “One heart, one soul”: this fundamental precept, handed down by the first community of Jerusalem and forming the ideal model of monastic life, makes us ponder on the historical significance of Western and Eastern monasticism, and on its seemingly irrelevant topicality. The Festival’s core will also give us a chance to tell the tale of a very different Ravenna, not as splendid as at the time of the Western Roman Empire but quite as extraordinary: the Ravenna of Saint Romuald and his monks, of Sant Adalbert or Gerbert d’Aurillac (Pope Sylvester II), a Ravenna “dappled with a soft oriental worry” (as poet Eugenio Montale put it) and an extraordinary cultural project and European workshop.
This story, with its lights and shadows, will be awakened from the silence that shrouds and protects it: a series of concerts will re-propose music from various origins telling the tales of important human, historic and spiritual experiences. From the Middle Ages of the Eloqventia ensemble to the ancient Baltic songs of the Estonian Ensemble Heinavanker, to the Norwegian voices of Trio Mediæval to the chants of the Russian Orthodox Church by the Moscow Male Orthodox Choir, directed by Georgy Smirnov. The sacred baroque scores by the Camaldolese Orazio Tarditi (who was ordained in Ravenna) will be proposed by Sergio Balestracci’s Stagione Armonica alongside the baroque music from Eastern Europe re-interpreted by Vittorio Ghielmi’s instrumental ensemble, Suonar parlante. Uzbek singer Monâjât Yulchieva will propose the refined tradition of Ghazal, or Sufi mystic music.
Following in the spiritual paths of monasticism, we could not help reaching Tibet, a country of multimillennial history, which, after losing independence, now risks losing its identity and existence. A week of meetings, rites, ceremonies and events will be dedicated to Tibet. Even though the distance is enormous, there are strong ties between Tibet and the Camaldoli Hermitage: Atisha, a famous Indian monk and a contemporary of Saint Romuald’s, actively reformed the Buddhist tradition in Tibet by infusing new vigour into the rules of monastic life. In Tibet, where the sense of the sacred clearly extends beyond the walls of monasteries, everyday life seems to follow the rituals, while the gestures of the monks strike roots in a kind of active contemplation that bears remarkable analogies with the Benedictine rule. Mandalas, sutras and mantras will populate the heart of Ravenna, and the city itself will wear orange and red in the seven days leading to a great Brotherhood Concert by the monks of Darhamsala (the home of the current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso), onstage alongside the Tibetan nun Ani Choying Drolma and some other musicians who will interact with the mantras: Markus Stockhausen, Amelia Cuni and Maria Jonas, Stephan Micus and the female Gregorian choir Mediae Aetatis Sodaliciumi.
In the solitude of the windy peaks and craggy mountains of Verghereto, where another hermitage was founded by Saint Romuald, “it is possible to catch thin, tenuous and disturbing messages, to perceive grave, enigmatic communications, to feel arcane emotions, unamenable to words, which transform the ones who feel them” (Elémire Zolla). Within the Festival’s theme, there are parallel paths through the “woods” and the “mountains”: these will be interpreted by the undisputedly excellent SAT Choir and by a special project by singer and composer Luisa Cottifogli, “Like Wintertime Trees”. The project will re-propose the successful formula of the Trekking Concert in the ancient Classe pinewood (which managed to survive through the centuries-old care of pious Camaldolese monks, somehow anticipating today’s green economy).
The solitude of cloisters, the monks’ ecstatic visions and mystical raptures and trances will be powerfully evoked by Sancta Susanna, an opera in one act set in a nunnery, composed by Paul Hindemith on a libretto by poet August Stramm. It is one of the most arcane and mysterious scores of the XX century, disturbingly dealing with the deafening “silence of God” that played an important part in Nordic mythology and later impregnated German Expressionism. Hindemith’s Sancta Susanna, co-produced by Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, will be directed by Chiara Muti. A ballet suite for orchestra Hindemith composed between 1937 and 1938, Nobilissima Visione, will be proposed by Micha van Hoecke’s new creation, which will open the Festival’s homage to one of the most important yet unknown composers of the XX century. The suite, drawn from the ballet Saint Francis, was inspired by the famous Giotto frescoes in the Bardi chapel in the church of Santa Croce, Florence, depicting the life of the saint.
Following the extraordinary April pre-event with a concert by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Muti, and the May date with the opening concert of ‘Allegromosso 2012’ by a Cherubini Youth Orchestra significantly complemented by other young musicians from European music schools and conducted by Wayne Marshall, the Festival’s symphonic programme continues in June with Dennis Russell Davies and the Cherubini Youth Orchestra in a concert which will propose scores by the contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt (Lamentate for piano and orchestra, composed in 2002 and dedicated to Anish Kapoor’s sculpture “Marsyas”) together with Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Pietro Borgonovo will then conduct the Cherubini with the Chicago Children’s Choir (music by Schubert and Bernstein), while the great Russian conductor Yuri Temirkanov will return to the Festival with St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. The Brotherhood Concert will see Riccardo Muti on the podium conducting the by-now-traditional concert of the Cherubini and the Italian Youth Orchestra.
The Festival’s contemporary music section will see one of its greatest protagonists: Steve Reich, a pioneering composer of American “minimalism”, a most influential style of music. Reich will exceptionally be present at the Festival, entertaining his audience about his peculiar composition aesthetics. PMCE Parco della Musica Contemporanea Ensemble, conducted by Tonino Battista, will perform two of his masterpieces: Tehillim, for voices and ensemble (1981) and City Life, for amplified ensemble (1995). Some forms of even more advanced and experimental research in sound and image will find an expression in the “Weird Tales” section, organised in collaboration with Bronson Produzioni.
Dance, even in its more contemporary forms, has recently gained more and more space within the Festival, thanks to a growing, attentive and demanding audience. This year three nations will share the role of the protagonist: USA, Brazil and France. Shen Wei, choreographer and artistic director of New York–based Shen Wei Dance Arts, is not only a well-known painter, designer, director and photographer, miraculously poised between East and West: he is also renowned for the original vision of his intercultural and interdisciplinary choreographic inventions. He will propose two of his best creations: Near The Terrace (inspired by the paintings by Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte) and a personal ‘reading’ of Stravinsky’s masterpiece, The Rite Of Spring.
Cedar Lake Contemporary Dance, the company Nancy Laurie founded in 2003, is one of the most dynamic and innovative groups in the US, and will propose the Italian première of two brand new creations: Violet Kid, by the new rising star of Israeli ballet, Ofesh Shechter, and Hubbub, by freelance Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman. French dancer and choreographer Mourad Merzouki, whose 2006-born company, Käfig, combines hip-hop with other forms of contemporary dance, has been the director of the National Choreographic Centre of Créteil since 2009. He presently collaborates with 11 dancers from Rio de Janeiro, after the huge success of his two creations, Correria and Agwa. Under Merzouki’s supervision, Brazilian and French choreographers will contribute to Käfig’s new creation, Brazil, to be staged in Ravenna soon after its Montpellier Danse debut. Classical ballet could not be missing: a Grand Gala will be performed by one of the most renowned European dance companies, the Opéra National de Paris.
The “Brazil in jazz” section pays homage to a legendary figure in Brazilian music: Egberto Gismonti. This “two-day” tribute will once again bring great jazz to the Rocca Brancaleone in a real ‘focus’ dedicated to the composer and multi-instrumentalist, the son of a Sicilian mother and a Lebanese father. Gismonti, who studied in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Jean Barraqué, has an absolutely respectable classical background, but his artistic career proves that Brazil has a composite culture, where different styles like choro, frevo, baião and forró combine the musical tradition of the Amazon Indians and classical music in an original synthesis. The ‘focus’ on Gismonti will also re-propose his “historical” collaboration with percussionist Nana Vasconcelos, who made berimbau known worldwide by playing with such prestigious artists as Don Cherry and Gato Barbieri.
On the second night, Hamilton de Holanda and Trio Madeira will join Gismonti onstage. Like Hermeto Pascoal, Astor Piazzolla and Egberto Gismonti themselves, Hamilton deviates from tradition to embrace a more jazzy approach, while still retaining a great expressive power. His music is always innovative; his charisma, communicative energy and impeccable, imaginative touch make Hamilton one of the most relevant artists of contemporary Brazilian music. Widely considered one of the most renowned Brazilian instrumental groups of the last decade, Trio Madeira was born from the inevitable encounter of three Rio de Janeiro virtuosos: Zé Paulo Becker, Marcello Gonçalves and Ronaldo do Bandolim, who put together their different experiences in an ambitious artistic project: playing Choro in a warm, sophisticated manner in an interpretation which combines the popular with the cultivated style.
Once again the San Giacomo Palace (Russi) will be the picturesque setting of a long weekend dedicated to folk music from all over the world. The “Vola vola vola” project will see the OPI-Orchestra Popolare Italiana of the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome, directed by Ambrogio Sparagna, reinterpret on the typical national folk instruments some of Francesco De Gregori’s most famous songs alongside some of the ‘classics’ from the Italian folk tradition. The second date will be dedicated to “Taranta Nera”, with Officina Zoé and some amazing African musicians. Apulia and Africa: two areas below the North-South divide, the keepers of centuries-old traditions based on man’s simplest – and deepest – artistic forms: voices and percussions. Voices as means of expression and communication: as the voices of the griots tell their tales to the remotest villages in the savannah, the voices of the Salento women sing away their toil in the fields. Percussions as the vital heartbeat of the Earth and of its ceremonies: as the African drums are a means of communication and trance in tribal ceremonies, the Salento tambourines beat time in the frenzied dancing preventing death from the bite of a tarantula, in a ‘modern’ version of the ancient Bacchanalian rites. A Southern melting pot, then, for an original and enthralling encounter where the pizzica and the taranta meet the African rhythms, the frenzy of tambourines dialogues with talking-drums, the Griko chant combines with the oral tradition of the griot from Mali. Some great artists from Sub-Saharan Africa will close this short and intense section: Kareyce Fotso, multi-instrumentalist from Cameroon, Dobet Gnahoré, “the Black Goddess”, a singer, dancer and percussionist from the Ivory Coast, fiercely handing down the force of the “Bété“ tradition, and Aly Keïta, from Mali, a virtuoso of the balafon and a suitable partner for Joe Zawinul’s sound ventures.