Folk music in the street; an oratorio in front of the cathedral; an impromptu solo horn performance by Zoltán Szőke in the heat; and a tremendous success – the Budapest Festival Orchestra rounded out the 2021-2022 season with a memorable tour in Italy. The Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, the Festival of the Two Worlds, was organized for the 65th time in central Italy. The BFO gave the opening concert of the two-week-long series of events. The performance was the Italian premiere of Philip Glass’s grandiose oratorio, The Passion of Ramakrishna, following the debut of the piece in Hungary. The theatrical traditions of the small town of forty thousand date back to Roman times, and the ancient theater remains one of the central venues of the festival. The celebration itself was founded by the Italian-American opera composer and director Gian Carlo Menotti, with the very first production, a performance of Macbeth, directed by the famous movie director Luchino Visconti. In addition to the square in front of the magnificent cathedral, where we performed Philip Glass’s work together with the National Academy of St Cecilia of Rome, we also gave a number of chamber music concerts at the Teatro Caio Melisso, one of Italy’s oldest theatres, featuring box seating. Our Baroque ensemble also took the stage, and we treated audiences to some contemporary pieces as well. And, late at night, our folk music trio of István Kádár, Zsolt Fejérvári and András Szabó performed Transylvanian tunes to the delight of the crowds filling the streets. Our horn section leader, Zoltán Szőke, also found himself an innovative concert format: he took the stage after our contemporary music concert, performing a part of Nessun dorma, the well-known aria of Puccini’s Turandot, playing in the blazing sunshine. Cymbalist István Kurcsák just happened to be in the best possible place at the right time... Visit our Facebook page to view the memorable performance.
The second stop on our tour was also a festival, the Ravenna Festival, with a history of “only” 32 years. In the beautiful Teatro Alighieri, we gave chamber music concerts, while in the exciting building of the Palazzo Mauro De André, we performed Brahms’s symphony no. 3 and Scheherazade, receiving ovations from Ravennese and international audiences. In the few days we spent there, we also collaborated with the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra, in town for their annual summer residence at the festival. We practiced, rehearsed and gave a joint chamber music concert, mentoring along the way members of the ensemble founded by Riccardo Muti. Led by János Pilz, we performed works by Michael Haydn, Bach and Tchaikovsky, with an Italian and a BFO musician sharing each stand.
After these busy months, our orchestra will take summer break. We will be back in August, to perform at a unique venue at Lake Balaton, followed by concerts in Switzerland, Germany and Italy… Rehearsals for our new opera premieres are also coming up: Henry James’s short novel The Turn of the Screw has seen several adaptations on the stage, on film, in series and of course as Benjamin Britten’s opera; come early September, however, Iván Fischer’s interpretation will premiere at Müpa Budapest. Until then: the BFO wishes you a wonderful, relaxing summer!