On the XX anniversary of ‘The Roads of Friendship’ project, the XXVIII edition of the Ravenna Festival once again looks East, and reaches ancient Persia: the journey will start in Ravenna (itself a door onto the East) to cement relationships with a Country whose ties with Italy prevail over geographical reasons. Once again, Riccardo Muti will be at the head of it— journey and concert — with a programme entirely dedicated to Verdi. Under his baton, Italian and Iranian artists will perform together in Tehran (July 6) and Ravenna (July 8), in the same spirit of brotherhood that has breathed life into the ‘Paths of Friendship’ programme since 1997, in worldwide locations that are symbolic of ancient and contemporary history.

In Muti’s own words: “Better than economy, better than politics, better than verbal languages, music can provide direct communication, tugging at the heartstrings with no need for mediation. And this leads to the concerts of the ‘Paths of Friendship’ programme, to the heart of their very reason for being.” This spirit of brotherhood has been at the heart of the project since the first historical concert in Sarajevo, the first of many highly symbolical places.

Since 1997, the Festival has been promoting the ‘Roads of Friendship’ project as a series of lay pilgrimages to conflict-ridden areas, with a view to re-establishing ancient ties: such “bridges of brotherhood” are the true spirit and the cultural culmination of the project. Riccardo Muti has always featured on the podium as a cultural ambassador to the world, conducting such orchestras and choirs as Teatro Alla Scala, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, or the “Luigi Cherubini” Youth Orchestra, which he founded himself. As a testimony to the universality of the musical language, these orchestras have always invited local musicians to join them for the concerts. Worth mentioning here are the unforgettable concerts of Beirut, Moscow, Erevan and Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, Nairobi and Tokyo, for the 150th anniversary of diplomatic relationships between Italy and Japan in 2016.

The project for a double concert in Tehran and Ravenna comes less than two years after the rebirth of the Teheran Symphony Orchestra and Choir, whose eight-decade history has accompanied the events of the Country. On this occasion, the Orchestra will join the “Luigi Cherubini” Youth Orchestra and selected musicians from some major Italian symphony and opera ensembles (Teatro Petruzzelli, Bari, Teatro Municipale, Bologna, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, Teatro Carlo Felice, Genoa, Teatro San Carlo, Naples, La Scala, Milan, Teatro Massimo, Palermo, and Teatro dell’Opera, Rome): over 100 instrumentalists will perform with an equally large choir (which in turn consists of the Italian Choir of the Municipal Theatre, Piacenza, and of Iranian artists). The concert will be held in Tehran, in the Vahdat Hall, on July 6, and at the Pala De André in Ravenna on July 8.

Giuseppe Verdi’s universal music will provide a bridge between East and West under the baton of Riccardo Muti, “The King of Verdi”. Tenor Piero Pretti, baritone Luca Salsi and bass Riccardo Zanellato will lend their voices to a programme including arias, symphonies and choruses.

This new step in the Ravenna Festival’s ‘Roads of Friendship’ project was made possible through a partnership with the Roudaki Foundation, and thanks to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Emilia-Romagna Region, the Italian Embassy in Tehran, and the Embassy and Cultural Institute of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Italy.

The main sponsor of the Teheran concert is Hormoz Vasfi, a historical patron of the Ravenna Festival, along with the Italian State Railways, the Astaldi Group and Eni, Ravenna Festival’s main partner.

The state broadcasting company, RAI, an exceptional witness to the ‘Roads of Friendship’ trips, will broadcast the Ravenna concert live on RadioTre (July 8) and then on RAI 1 Tv channel (date to be determined).

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