From October 14th to 23rd Ravenna Festival’s Autumn Trilogy presents an intense Danubian triptych that pays homage to the great civilisation that flourished while the Austro-Hungarian Empire was coming to its twilight, when Vienna and other cities of the Empire like Budapest played cradle to an extraordinary multicultural ferment. The Alighieri Theatre will host the Italian premiere of three productions by the major Hungarian theatres – Operetta Theatre in Budapest, Csokonai Theatre in Debrecen, and Szeged Theatre – which contribute to maintain the excellent level of a tradition that has never declined: Gräfin Mariza (Countess Maritza), Die Fledermaus (The Bat), and Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow).

It will be a tribute to a genre of musical theatre, the “operetta”, which produced such masterpieces as the ones presented in Ravenna, created by the greatest composers of this genre: Emmerich Kálmán, Johann Strauss, and Franz Lehár. The titles of this Trilogy were all staged for the first time in the Theater an der Wien in the course of fifty years, in Austro-Hungarian Wien, capital of that multiethnic and multinational Empire for which the Danube river was one of the most important transport routes. If Strauss, who created The Bat, is reputed the father of the Wien operetta, Lehár’s Merry Widow was exceptionally and unexpectedly successful in the Wien of Freud, Mahler, Schnitzler, and Schönberg. Almost twenty years later, Hungarian composer Kálmán ends the cycle, including Gypsy and Magyar elements in this already very popular genre which, in Countess Maritza, winks at one of Strauss’s operettas. These masterpieces will be presented in their integral version, which flawlessly combines drama, music, and dance, and represents the illustrious forefather of the musical theatre of Broadway and the West End, thanks to composers like Offenbach and Gilbert & Sullivan, but also of the Italian musical comedy.

The journey along the Danube river, after three days of dazzling performances in the city centre, will end with the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra (Sunday, October 23rd), for the first time in Italy, an orchestra of violins, violas, cellos, double basses, clarinets, and cimbalombs in the best Mittel-European tradition, whose programme will alternate scores by famous composers such as Liszt, Bartók, Kodály, Brahms, Čajkovskij, and Strauss to traditional Hungarian and Gypsy music.

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