The Festival della Valle d'Itria of Martina Franca was founded in 1975 by a group of music-lovers led by Alessandro Caroli, first president of the Festival, with the decisive support of Franco Punzi, mayor of Martina Franca at the time, and Paolo Grassi, superintendent at the Teatro Alla Scala. Right from the start the main characteristic of the Festival was the brave re-proposal of underestimated repertoires and musical performances: an important contribution in this sense was the mise-en-scéne of operas such as Rossini’s Tancredi (in 1976, prior to the “Rossini Renaissance” which was to characterise the following decades) and of the original version of
Norma, whose protagonist is characterised by a darker timbre compared to young Adalgisa’s.
From 1980, with Franco Punzi as president and under Rodolfo Celletti’s artistic direction and with expertise in vocal music, the Festival enhanced its original identity, which aimed at revaluating the belcanto repertoire (from Monteverdi to proto-Romanticism) and the tradition of the Neapolitan music school, whose major protagonists were composers from Apulia. This did not mean neglecting the great European repertoire: special importance was given to elements of Italian belcanto in the works of foreign authors. Among the many works performed, the most emblematic are Rossini’s Adelaide di Borgogna and Semiramide, Monteverdi’s L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Händel’s Giulio Cesare and Auber’s Fra Diavolo.
Under the artistic direction of Sergio Segalini, between 1994 and 2009, the Festival further developed an international dimension in its choice of repertoire, starting from Cherubini’s Medée in its original French version with spoken dialogues, not to mention masterpieces such as Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, Offenbach’s La Grande-Duchesse de Gérolstein, and the French version of Richard Strauss’s Salomé.
Alberto Triola, who took up the artistic direction in 2010, intends to broaden the horizons of the Festival to include 20thcentury and contemporary operas, while also focusing on the Baroque belcanto repertoire and musical theatre. The selected titles for the 2010-2011 biennial are significant: Donizetti’s Gianni di Parigi and Rossini’s Aureliano in Palmira, Händel’s Rodelinda, Regina de’ Longobardi and Cavalli-Stradella’s Il Novello Giasone, Rota’s Napoli Milionaria! and the Korngold-Krenek diptych: Der Ring des Polykrates andDas Geheime Königreich.
The Festival’s productions are characterised by the authenticity of the texts (often performed in their full-length version) and by the faithfulness to the original vocal types, respecting the original musical scores and performances. The Festival has contributed to the rise of artists who went on to write the history of performance, such as Mariella Devia, Martine Dupuy, Paolo Coni, Daniela Dessì, Patrizia Ciofi, Fabio Luisi, Renato Palumbo, to name but a few. Since 1975 over a hundred operas have been presented at the Festival della Valle d’Itria. It is worth mentioning that the Festival has been awarded the much-acclaimed Premio Abbiati by the Associazione nazionale dei critici musicali italiani, and it is also a member of important associations such as the EFA (European Festivals Association), the CIDIM (Comitato Nazionale Italiano Musica) and Italiafestival, of which it is an honorary member.
Centro Artistico Musicale Paolo Grassi - Box Office
Palazzo Ducale - 74015 Martina Franca (TA), ITALY
tel. +39 080.4805100; +39 080.4307259; fax +39 080.4805120 (from Monday to Friday, 10am-1pm)