Festivalino 2024: all stripes of culture

Festivalino 2024: all stripes of culture

From art to opera and ballet, the Fondazione Mascarade Opera's 2024 "little festival" is as varied as ever.

Mon 25 Mar 2024 12:47 PM

From Thursday May 30 to Sunday June 2, the Fondazione Mascarade Opera (FMO) will present its annual Festivalino in some of Florence’s most beautiful locations, featuring opera, ballet and lots of art.

La Cenerentola, Rossini’s adaptation of Charles Perrault’s Cinderella fairy tale, was part of the Re-Generation Festival, which was organized by British co-founders Maximilian Fane, Roger Granville and Frankie Parham in the Boboli Gardens in the summer of 2020.

The Festivalino (“little festival”) kicks off with a gala evening on May 30 at Florence’s Palazzo Corsini al Prato at via il Prato 56, the headquarters of the FMO’s opera training and performance programme, including a young all-stars alumni concert in one of the garden’s magnificent Limonaie and a majestic opening dinner set at a tavolo imperiale running down the palazzo’s famous avenue of statues. “The night’s festivities will be held to mark the launch of two new artistic initiatives in support of the foundation’s scholarship endowment for the training of the world’s most promising emerging opera artists,” explain the FMO’s co-founders Frankie Parham and Roger Granville.

Art at Festivalino 2024

Festivalino Fondazione Mascarade Opera
Jamie Coreth, Portrait of Yasmina Zanasi in Mary Katrantzou’s Alchemy dress, 2021

The first is a glorious new portrait cycle to fill the ten empty frames that decorate the acoustic panels around the walls of the FMO’s Salone dei Concerti. The portraits will be painted by Jamie Coreth who has, since graduating from Florence Academy of Art and Charles Cecil Studios, become one of today’s most celebrated young painters. Coreth is a winner of the BP Young Artist Award and has had several of his works exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, the latest of which is his much-admired portrait of the present Prince and Princess of Wales. Inspired by the tradition of humanist themes found in Florence’s great Renaissance masterworks, Coreth’s own cycle for the FMO will draw on Ovid’s Metamorphosis to symbolize the transformative power of the arts. Sitters for his new cycle at the FMO are sure to enter history and be immortalized in distinguished company.

Indeed, the offer of immortalization will also extend beyond these ten large frames with the inauguration of the FMO’s second artistic initiative: a new fresco cycle to cover the entirety of the grand salone above and around the portraits. Beneath the whitewashed walls, recent trials, or saggi, have revealed that, when the central part of the palazzo was completed towards the end of the 1500s, its renowned architect Bernardo Buontalenti never embarked on the fresco he had presumably envisaged for the main hall. While protecting these ancient layers, a new fresco is now being commissioned from a soon-to-be-announced trio of artists who will paint the 21st-century story of the foundation. Just like the real-life figures found in frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli or Luca Giordano, today’s patrons of the arts will be able to subscribe to this cycle named The Apotheosis of Music by sponsoring depictions of themselves or loved ones in figures ranging from cherubs to gods. Upon completion of the portrait and fresco cycles, the Salone dei Concerti will aptly be renamed the Salone dei Mecenati (Hall of the Patrons). Who knows, it may be you, dear Reader, to whom grand tourers in years to come will point high above as the “Personification of Music”.

Ballet + opera at Teatro della Pergola

Teatro della Pergola. Ph. Filippo Manzini

On May 31, the Festivalino’s attention moves to Florence’s beloved Pergola Theatre, believed to be the first opera house built with superposed tiers of boxes rather than raked Roman-style semi-circular seating. Festivalino goers will be delighted by an opera production designed to showcase the talents of the emerging artists who are currently training at Mascarade. In order to provide each artist with a principal role, scenes from six different operas have been tied together into a fully staged devised show directed by Jean-Romain Vesperini and conducted by Maestro Wyn Davies with the Orchestra Filarmonica di Firenze. Expect some of your favourite moments by Mozart, Donizetti and Verdi all in one! For those who purchase a gala ticket, the opera will be followed by dinner and dancing in the theatre’s ballroom, which will be transformed with co-founder Maximilian Fane into a speakeasy cabaret featuring Daisy’s jazz band.

Gala dinner in the Corsini Gardens

If you’re still standing on June 1, make sure to catch a lunchtime chamber music concert presented by Mascarade Opera’s artistic director, Julia Lynch, back at the Palazzo Corsini al Prato. That will still leave you with plenty of time to prepare for your second night at La Pergola and catch the ballet show Simbiosi. The production will be staged by the remarkable company Reunited in Dance, a star-studded ensemble of dancers impacted by the war in Ukraine. Led by Xander Parish OBE, a former principal dancer at the Mariinsky Ballet in Saint Petersburg, the company features Russian and Ukrainian dancers who were previously part of Russia’s most elite dance companies. Simbiosi hopes to show that dialogue and reconciliation can still be found in dance and art.   

Finally, for those who sign up as Mascarade sponsors, a Sunday lunch will be given in the Tuscan countryside on June 2 with a special concert of long-lost sacred choral masterpieces given by the director of the FMO’s Sacred Music Programme, Mark Spyropoulos, and his choir, Vox Medicea.

Tickets for this year’s Festivalino productions at Teatro della Pergola and the full weekend experience can be purchased here.

For sponsor and gala packages as well as enquiries about the portrait and fresco cycles, please contact info@mascaradeopera.com.

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