7, 9, and 11 July: Riccardo Muti leads Italian and Jordanian musicians in Ravenna and the Roman theatres of Jerash and Pompeii

Not stone, brick, or steel: the bridges Ravenna Festival has been building since 1997 with The Roads of Friendship are those that music, the only universal language, can create. Invisible but no less real or necessary, those bridges are an invitation to dialogue, an offer of sympathy, a symbol of hope. And sometimes, along the routes of Friendship, one discovers that a bridge already exists: the one, for example, built by the generosity of the Jordanian people, who over the last decade have welcomed hundreds of thousands of Syrian (and other) refugees. The concert Riccardo Muti will conduct on Sunday 9 July in Jerash, in the Roman theatre of the ‘Pompeii of the East’, pays tribute to this extraordinary spirit of brotherhood. Significantly, after the debut at the Pala De André in Ravenna (7 July) and the concert in Jordan, The Roads of Friendship will reach the Teatro Grande in Pompeii on Tuesday 11 July. In the year in which the Festival took the opportunity of the centenary of Italo Calvino’s birth to name its 34th edition The Invisible Cities, the common thread of the shared Roman past and its archaeological heritage links two long-buried cities – one by the ashes of Mount Vesuvius, the other by the sands of the desert – to Ravenna, whose port of Classe emperor Augustus chose for his fleet in the eastern Mediterranean. On all three stages, Muti’s baton will unite the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra and the Cremona Antiqua Choir with Jordanian musicians in the second act from Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, ‘Casta diva’ from Bellini’s Norma, and Brahms’s Schicksalslied. In Jordan, Ravenna Festival will also visit the Za’atari refugee camp on the Syrian border, for a music moment with Syrian diaspora artists and musicians living in the camp, who will be given new instruments as a gift.

In the Republic, Plato draws the profile of the ideal city, the utopia of a state guided by philosophical principles; pivotal in the education of its citizens is music, which cultivates the soul through beauty. The ethics of making music together – with Italian orchestras and choirs that welcome to their ranks musicians from the destination cities – the guiding star that shines on The Roads of Friendship, ever since the call came from Sarajevo in 1997, and then from year to year, without interruption, with unforgettable events all over the world and always with Riccardo Muti’s lead. The 27th edition of the project reaches Jordan, a country that not only provides support to the refugee camps within its borders, alongside the UNHCR and international organisations, but has also integrated into its communities, towns and villages, most of the almost seven hundred thousand people who have arrived from Syria and other wounded territories such as Iraq and Palestine.

“Suffering humans / decline and blindly fall […] like water thrown / from cliff to cliff / down into the Unknown”: the Song of Destiny op. 54 that Brahms set to a poem by Hölderlin was part of the programme of the first Friendship concert in Sarajevo and will be performed again this year. A meditation on human destiny, the relationship with the divine and the mystery of death, the Schicksalslied is the unsolvable doubt that becomes music. The same doubt that in Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice, for which countertenor Filippo Mineccia will be on stage, the main character tries to resolve by defying the Furies and crossing the boundary between life and death to bring back his beloved; the same doubt that runs through Norma’s prayer to the moon and invocation for peace in ‘Casta diva’, performed by soprano Monica Conesa. A possible answer rises from the ecstatic light that concludes Brahms’s work, like a message of redemption and hope.

The dialogue between Italy and Jordan takes place in the name of mosaics as well, through the exchange between the Municipality of Ravenna and the Jordanian city of Madaba, where extraordinary Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics are preserved; another precious segment in the journey that starts from the Pala De André, where the event is supported by La Cassa di Ravenna Spa. The concert in Jerash is made possible by the support of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (which, in line with the strategy of strengthening cultural cooperation between Italy and Jordan, will open a new Italian Cultural Institute in Amman) and the assistance of the Italian Embassy in Amman, the support of the Emilia-Romagna Region, and in collaboration with the Jordan Italian Forum for Cooperation. The event in the ancient city of Pompeii – organised thanks to the collaboration with the Pompeii Archaeological Site and RAI 1, that will film the concert – is entirely funded by Ravello’s Caruso A Belmond Hotel.

The Roads of Friendship 1997-2022

1997 SARAJEVO Skenderija Centre
1998 BEIRUT Forum de Beyrouth
1999 JERUSALEM Sultan’s Pool
2000 MOSCOW Bolshoi Theatre
2001 YEREVAN – ISTANBUL Sports and Arts Centre – Convention & Exhibition Centre
2002 NEW YORK Ground Zero – Avery Fisher Hall (Lincoln Center)
2003 IL CAIRO Giza plateau
2004 DAMASCUS Roman Theatre in Bosra
2005 EL DJEM Roman Theatre in El Djem
2006 MEKNÈS Lahdim square
2007 CONCERT FOR LEBANON Rome, Quirinal Palace
2008 MAZARA DEL VALLO Arena of the Mediterranean Sea
2009 SARAJEVO Olympic Hall Zetra
2010 ITALY-SLOVENIA-CROATIA Unità d’Italia square, Trieste
2011 NAIROBI Uhuru Park
2014 REDIPUGLIA Military Memorial, Fogliano di Redipuglia
2015 OTRANTO Otranto Cathedral
2016 TOKYO Bunka Kaikan and Metropolitan Theatre
2017 TEHRAN Vahdat Hall
2018 KYIV Sofiyska Square
2019 ATHENS Odeon of Herodes Atticus
2020 PAESTUM Archeological Site
2021 YEREVAN Opera Theatre
2022 LOURDES – LORETO Sanctuary of Our Lady – Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy House