Music has had a fundamental role in Florence's cultural life since the late sixteenth century, when, from the intellectual and artistic experiences of the Camerata dei Bardi, melodrama was born.
Today's center for music and melodramatic art is the Theater of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, which has its headquarters in the Teatro Comunale.
Since 1933 this institution organizes the Maggio Musicale Festival, one of the oldest and most prestigious festivals in Europe along with the Bayreuth and Salzburg Festivals, and annual seasons of high quality concerts, opera and ballet.
The Teatro Comunale was designed in 1862 by the architect Telemaco Bonaiuti, based on an existing outdoor arena called the Florentine Politeama.
Today the theater's actual structure consists in a large orchestra stalls section, a row of boxes and two large balconies for a total of 2,003 seats. Next to the principal stage, there is a secondary stage, called the Piccolo Teatro, a modern theater containing up to 600 seats.
Partially destroyed twice, once in 1944 by a bombardment, and again in 1966 by a flood, the theater was promptly restored both times, symbolizing the city's will of rebirth and strong civic sense (symbolized as well by the special concert staged in Piazza della Signoria in 1993, soon after the bombing at the Uffizi Gallery).
The most prestigious names of international music have performed on our stage: conductors such as Vittorio Gui, Bruno Walter, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Zubin Mehta, Herbert von Karajan and Riccardo Muti; Pietro Mascagni and Richard Strauss, Paul Hindemith, Bela Bartòk, Igor Stravinskij and Luigi Dallapiccola, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Luciano Berio all appeared as conductors interpreting their own works.
Along with these excellent musicians, directors and scenographers such as Max Reinhardt, Gustav Gründgens, Luchino Visconti, Franco Zeffirelli, Luca Ronconi and Bob Wilson, Giorgio De Chirico and Oskar Kokoschka have staged memorable productions.
Founded in 1933 by Vittorio Gui, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival is one of the most important festivals in the world. Initially a three-year event, it became annual in 1937, and since then it is an obligatory appointment for all music and opera lovers. Since its origins the Maggio Musicale Festival has invited international attention due to its original cultural choices: the attention given to the visual aspects in lyrical opera's staging, and the decision to seek the cooperation of the best theater directors and set and costume designers as well as internationally known painters and sculptors, was a crucial step for the development of modern opera. There have been some thematic editions of the Festival, which concentrated on certain moments of music history, such as the Rossini festival in 1952, or those of 1964, 1994 and 1995, dedicated respectively to Expressionism, historical twentieth century and first Romanticism. The constant presence of great interpreters, conductors and singers has always been an essential part of these ambitious projects, allowing traditional opera to be reinterpreted with innovative direction and scenery.
While the Festival takes place in May and June, the theater's activity goes on all year long with its opera, concert and ballet seasons and special summer performances staged in the magnificent scenario of the Boboli Gardens: a rich and varied music program not to be missed.
Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Via Solferino, 15 - I 50123 Firenze
+39 055 27791