One of the most important events of the summer season on the Amalfi Coast is the Ravello Festival, the oldest musical and cultural festival in Italy after the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. The extraordinary event is held between the end of June and the beginning of September in the splendid town of Ravello, which over the centuries has been able to enchant with its beauty the greatest writers, poets and artists such as Virginia Woolf, Truman Capote, Arturo Toscanini, Giovanni Boccaccio, Joan Miró and Richard Wagner. It was the latter who found the inspiration for his last and perhaps greatest work, Parsifal, in the magnificent garden of Villa Rufolo, the jewel in the crown of Ravello’s immense historical and architectural heritage.
The rich program of the event includes symphonic and chamber music concerts, ballet performances, exhibitions, screenings, literary meetings and musical walks that transform much of the town center into a large stage. Among the various locations where the events are held, the famous suspended terrace of the garden of Villa Rufolo stands out, where a spectacular stage is set up overlooking the sea which contributed significantly to the success of the festival. Attending a concert in this setting of unparalleled charm is a one-of-a-kind experience. As the writer Gore Vidal noted: “often, when the orchestra plays Wagner, the full moon rises from the mountains whose contours resemble a dragon with its head gently reclining on the beach, towards the east, while the birds of Ravello, musically well educated after all these years, they make the counterpoint from the top of the dark pines“. Other locations include the spectacular auditorium designed by Oscar Niemeyer, one of the architectural geniuses of our time. The work, inaugurated in 2010, fits harmoniously into the gentle slope of the coast and its enchanting natural scenery.
The festival, which more than any other event has contributed to building Ravello’s identity as the “City of Music”, attracts hundreds of music lovers (and not only) from all over the world. How did the festival come about? The idea is due to Paolo Caruso, who, in the wake of previous musical events linked to Richard Wagner, decided in 1953 to create a festival dedicated to the German composer. Over the course of the various editions, the following have performed at the festival: well-known chamber ensembles such as the Chamber Orchestra of Europe; prestigious orchestras such as the Royal Philharmonic and the London Symphony Orchestra; illustrious conductors such as Zubin Mehta and Antonio Pappano; famous jazz musicians such as Stefano Bollani and Herbie Hancock; great singers like Noa and Toquinho; successful dancers and choreographers such as Maurice Béjart and Roberto Bolle; famous composers such as Giorgio Battistelli; and internationally renowned directors and actors such as John Malkovich and Toni Servillo.
Featured photo © Ravello Festival