The programme of the Ravenna Festival’s 34th edition, which opens on 7 June and runs until 23 July, is preceded by a week of ‘previews’. From 28 May to 4 June, three different events are an opportunity to visit some ‘happy cities’: those of the theatre projects Mantiq At-Tayr and Acarnesi Stop the War!, which put the community centre stage, the combination of performance and nature of the Trekking Concert, this year in Riolo Terme on the occasion of the candidature of the Regional Park of the Vena del Gesso Romagnola for the Unesco World Heritage List, and the performance by Joan La Barbara, fearless explorer of the powers of the voice.

On stage from 28 May to 2 June is Mantiq At-Tayr (The Conference of the Birds), the first project of the Grande Teatro di Lido Adriano (GTLA), born from the dialogue between Ravenna-based artists and cultural subjects linked to the cosmopolitan resort on the Riviera and around the activity of the CISIM, a cultural centre and much more. With the direction of Luigi Dadina, the dramaturgy of Tahar Lamri and the involvement of a hundred young people and adults of different nationalities, Mantiq At-Tayr rereads the Sufi wisdom poem by Farid Ad Din Attar, a 13th century Persian poet. In the poem, the birds decide to have a king to represent them, and the hoopoe suggests they set off in search of the mythical Simurgh, ruler among all birds. After many vicissitudes through seven valleys – those of Search, Love, Understanding, Independence, Unity, Amazement and Poverty – only thirty travellers arrive at their destination… to discover that the Simurgh is none other than a mirror in which their own image is reflected: the aim of the journey is the search for one’s self.

Saturday 3 June sees the arrival of Acarnesi Stop the War! at the Alighieri Theatre in Ravenna, after its debut in Pompeii. Acarnesi, the oldest of Aristophanes’s eleven surviving comedies, is the second stage, after Uccelli in 2022, of the four-year project with which Marco Martinelli “brings back to life” the masterpieces of the Greek playwright in the context of the Ravenna Festival’s dialogue with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii; a project strengthened by the comical vivaciousness of the adolescents of Pompeii and Torre del Greco and the musical curation of Ambrogio Sparagna. Diceopolis, an old Athenian peasant, is unable to convince his fellow citizens to stop the war, and decides on a separate truce with the Spartans. The inhabitants of the demo of Acarne oppose this, but Diceopolis (‘the just citizen’) will explain to them that serving the homeland means seeking Peace.

On Sunday 4 June, the Festival honours the long-standing tradition of the Trekking Concert with a challenge between Country music and Romagna Folk, represented respectively by the Crazy Bulls Band and the Gruppo Folkloristico alla Casadei Bruno Malpassi. While the sacred triad of ballroom dancing – waltzes, polkas and mazurkas – took hold in Romagna between the 19th and 20th centuries, in the American Wild West, summed up in the mythical figure of the cowboy, Country Dance took shape and took root. Even there, the spontaneous dynamism of the dance was structured in defined rules and, as in ballroom dancing, it moved from barns and farmyards to dance halls and dedicated venues… without ever losing enthusiasm. Perhaps the great expanses of the New World and the Romagna plain are not so far away.
PLEASE NOTE that the Trekking Concert has been postponed to 2024 for security reason, owing to the flooding and landslide emergency that has been affecting the Emilia Romagna Region in May.

On Tuesday, 6 June, the Festival hosts a performance by Joan La Barbara, whose artistic career was marked by her 20-year collaboration with John Cage, followed by a conversation with the artist.