Beginning with Beethoven

Kelsey Guerin
December 15, 2011

A city known for its centuries-old buildings and landmarks, Florence will soon step into the modern age with the opening of a sleek new opera house.


Located on viale Fratelli Rosselli, next to the Stazione Leopolda, the Teatro dell'Opera di Firenze will open its doors for a public preview on December 21, kicking off 10 days of celebrations (see calendar). With work on the final touches scheduled to begin after January 1, 2012, the official opening is projected for November 24, 2012.


The massive complex, located between Porta al Prato and the Cascine, was designed by Paolo Desideri of Abdr Architetti Associati. Once complete, the venue will house three concert halls, making it possible to entertain audiences of up to 5,000 in three separate, simultaneous performances. With the goal of making the new theater and opera house a cultural hub, a place for entertainment, education, and appreciation of music and the arts, the facility will be open and accessible to the public during daytime hours.


The Council of the President, the Tuscan Region and the City of Florence provided the funding for this extensive project, which is expected to further enhance the city's already vibrant cultural life.

‘It was a miracle, not only an Italian miracle but also a global one, because almost all of the 160 million euro set aside for construction work has been used in 22 months. We won the international competition in January 2008; we started construction in 2009; and in 2011 we will celebrate the completion of the first phase of works,' said Desideri.


The exterior of the opera house is decidedly modern, featuring a rectangular geometric structure and contemporary lighting that shines through rectangular spaces from the sides of the building. The interior uses smooth geometric lines and cool wooden panels.


The new opera house, however, unites modernity and antiquity: performances will continue to celebrate the long-standing musical and theatrical tradition in Florence, the city that gave birth to the opera in the 1600s (see TF 83).


The complex also opens just in time to catch the tail end of the 150th anniversary of Italian unity. ‘Culture found a home ,' says Francesca Colombo, general manager of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. ‘Florence now has a house for art where the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino will continue to hold the high artistic standards that has always distinguished it.'

On December 21, conductor Zubin Mehta will lead the orchestra and chorus of the Maggio Musicale; they will be joined by world-famous singers Anja Kampe, Stella Grigorian, Michael Schade and Juha Uusitalo in the performance of Beethoven's Leonore n. 3 and Ninth Symphony. The orchestra will also perform the world premiere of Gengenliebe (Reciprocated love), composed by Sylvano Bussotti for the Maggio Musicale. Other famous names in Florence will also play a role in the inaugural event: Gucci and Ferragamo are patrons.


The theater will host six other concerts and special events leading up to a concert and New Year's Eve party on December 31.


To allow everyone in the city to join the celebration, Rai 5 and Rai Radio 3 will broadcast live the December 21 performance. In addition to broadcasting a recording of the December 23 concert conducted by Claudio Abbado, Rai Radio 3 will broadcast live the New Year's Eve concert.





December 21, 8:30pm: Conducted by Zubin Mehta, the Orchestra and Chorus of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino perform works by Beethoven and Sylvano Bussotti.

December 22, 9:30pm: The Stefano Bollani Trio performs a selection of jazz music.

December 23, 11am: A meeting on the project of the new Florence opera house; free admission.

December 23, 8pm: Conducted by Claudio Abbado, the Orchestra Mozart and the Orchestra and Chorus of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino perform works by Brahms and Mahler.

December 27, 8:30pm: Pianist András Schiff performs works by Bach, in collaboration with the Amici della Musica of Florence.

December 28, 8:30pm: Conducted by Fabio Luisi, pianist Radu Lupu and the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino perform works by Matteo D'Amico, Beethoven and Brahms.

December 29, 8:30 pm: Directed by Francesco Ventrigia, the MaggioDanza perform selections from various ballets, with guest star Alessandro Riga.

December 31, 9pm: Concert and New Year's Eve party conducted by Zubin Mehta. Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, soprano Patrizia Ciofi, tenor Fabio Sartori, and the Orchestra and Chorus of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino perform works by Verdi, Beethoven, Ravel, Puccini and Rimskij-Korsakov.


For more information, call 055/2779350 or see; for tickets, email [email protected]


For a review of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino's upcoming 2012 opera season, see page 16.

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