Florence to Pistoia, Lucca to Fiesole, there is music in the air. It’s the
season for Tuscany’s summer music festivals, and there is nothing quite like
swaying to sweet sounds with the scent of warm grass in the air, cold beer in
hand and thousands of years of history surrounding you (Roman amphitheatres
often double as major music venues). Summer music festivals in Tuscany are so
special that superstars from Elton John to George Michael, Ben
Harper to B.B.
King are flying for a spot on these
stages. Here is your guide to the best upcoming music events throughout the
region this season.
AND AROUND TOWN
in town for the Estate Fiorentina 2011,
where ballets and concerts by the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino take center stage
all summer. Catch concerts and shows the Roman amphitheater of Le
Cascine, and stop by Le
Murate, which will become an open-air
cinema screening the Stop Making Noise documentary series, or the Oblate
Library for literary events and readings
(this year a tribute to Hemingway is the works). The official program is still
tentative, so check the Estate Fiorentina 2011 Facebook fan page for updates.
world-renowned Florence Opera Festival,
which turns the Boboli Gardens and the haunting ruins of the San Galgano Abbey
into stages under the stars, will be in full-swing (despite pedonalizzazione)
starting on July 12. This year’s classical shows are Carmina
Burana, Swan Lake (ballet), Vivaldi’s Four
Seasons, La Traviata and Don
much-anticipated concert up the hill: on July 3, Max
Gazze will perform songs from the
legendary Pink Floyd album, The Dark Side of the Moon at Estate
Fiesolana, which runs from June 20 to August
On July 4, Roman singer-songwriter Alessandro Mannarino will promote his latest album, while Nobel Prize winner Dario
Fo and his wife, Franca Rame, will tell stories by
September 10, George Michael will take the stage in Florence’s piazza Santa Croce, shaking his (still
tight!) rear and taking you back to the 80s for his Symphonica tour (tickets
are getting more expensive by the day, so snag them online ASAP!).
Lucca Summer Festival, which runs from
June 28 to July 24 (http://www.summer-festival.com),
is now among the most anticipated Italian music events of the summer season.
Now in its 14th year, the festival features an impressive lineup: Indie rock
fans won’t want to miss Arcade Fire on July 9. Elton John will sparkle, Ben Harper will woo with his reggae-inspired acoustics and, if she shows up, Amy
Winehouse will bring down the house. Joe
Cocker, blues guitarist B.B.
King, James Blunt, swinging legend Burt
Bacharach, funny rockers Blink
182 and legendary singer, actress and dancer Liza
Minnelli are all on the list. The 2011
festival ends with the much-anticipated return of Jamiroquai on Sunday, July 24, who comes back under the spotlight after five years to
close the festival.
Blues (July 8 to 11; http://www.pistoiablues.com) is opening
with the bang of 90s cult groups. Skunk Anansie,
the British band with killer lead lady Skin, will take the stage after having
toured Italy earlier this year. Don’t miss Italian ska band Skapestrati,
American folk blues guitarist Willie Nile,
Irish rock combo The Marshals and legend Lou Reed.
Marking the 40th anniversary of the death of Jim Morrison is an exhibition
features unpublished photos by Michelle Campbell,
the official photographer of The Doors (Ray
Manzarek and Robby Krieger are playing!), as well as videos and other
memorabilia. This year, the Pistoia Blues will be the first ‘pet friendly’
festival, opening up areas designated for visitors with animals.
June 20 to July 11, enjoy classical music in the classical setting of the
cloisters of Pisa’s Museo dell’Opera del Duomo at Music
Under the Tower (http://www.opapisa.it;
search ‘Musica sotto la torre’). A special highlight: the jazz evening that
pays homage to Blue Note Records, with Maurizio Giammarco on the sax and Marco Di Gennaro on the piano.
its 32nd year, Prato’s Festival delle Colline,
from June 24 to July 28 (http://www.festivaldellecolline.com),
features internationally renowned African guitarist Omar Moctar, aka Bombino,
playing at Bonistallo Church on July 1. There will be much to choose from, and
this year’s theme, The Kids are All Right, will see fables and children’s
themes interpreted. For example, Bobo Rondelli will tell the tale of Peter and the Wolf accompanied by the Tuscany Orchestra
this year’s La Versiliana Festival,
catch contemporary composer Goran Bregovic with a full orchestra, who will perform in Viareggio at the Cittadella del
Carnevale. The festival, which is held in Marina di Pietrasanta in an open-air
theatre, takes place from July 1 to August 31 (http://www.laversilianafestival.it).
The program is widely diverse, featuring the mega-musical Cats,
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, comedian (and more recently
politician) Beppe Grillo, a ballet inspired by Caravaggio and another by
and much more.
both music and dance at Bolgheri Melody from July 9 to August 7 (www.bolgherimelody.com).
Among this year’s big names are English musician Brian
Ferry; Italian singer-songwriter Gianna
Nannini, with a new baby and fresh new hit
songs; and Italian pop sensation Moda.
On August 2, a unique event connected to the festival, Liszt
Nella Notte, features live performances of piano
music by the composer in cellars in Castagneto Carducci during tastings.