A bold and exciting programme ushers in the Teatro del Maggio Fiorentino. Tickets are being sold months in advance in Italy and the rest of Europe as well as in Asia, especially after the Maggio orchestras recent successful tour to Japan. The theme of the festival, Mito e Contemporaneit, traces the use of myth in opera theatre over the past 400 years, including stories from ancient Greece and the northern European Nordic sagas which inspired Wagners Ring cycle.This season begins with a surprise package: Antigone by Ivan Fedele, a world premire commissioned by the theatre, and the composers first opera. Antigone is based on Socrates, with libretto by Giuliano Corti in contemporary idiom. Each protagonist is characterised by the music, and expressed through a recognisable melodic pattern, rhythm and orchestral accompaniment. A male chorus represents the people of Thebes, and behind the stalls, amplified and pre-recorded, are two female choruses, sopranos and contraltos. Percussion plays a big part in the score and includes parts for cimbalon, glockenspiel, Chinese gongs and marimba.Glucks Orfeo and Euridice, the next opera in the festival programme, conducted by Riccardo Muti on April 28 and 29, will be interpreted in concert version with a formidable cast: Daniela Barcellona as Orfeo, Andrea Rost as Euridice and Julia Kleiter as Amore. Some of the older members of the audience may remember the great Ronconi production of the 1970s, which Muti also conducted. Another big name connected with the festival this year is Daniel Barenboim, who appears on several evenings both as conductor and pianist. On May 12, he will give a piano recital of music by Liszt and Verdi. On May 18, with the Maggio orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta, hes scheduled to perform Beethovens 4th Piano Concerto and Liszts Piano Concerto no.1 in E flat major. In July, he returns as conductor with the Berlin Staatskapelle. The last of the May operas is Dafne, by the Florentine composer Marco da Gagliano, a much-admired musician in his day and maestro di cappella to the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It will be produced by the innovative Davide Livermore and performed by the Baroque Ensemble Antonio Il Verso on May 31 and June 1, appropriately in the tiny Goldoni theatre. This opera inspired Ravel to compose the ravishing music of Daphnis et Chlo, from which the choreographer Lucinda Childs created a ballet. Combining it with Stravinskys Symphony of Psalms the Maggiodanza will give six performances from May 19 to 25. Look for more about the festival in the June issue. Meanwhile, from the long list of musical events, it seems there is only limbarazzo della scelta!