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Dolce vita at Bridging Europe: this fall, it’s all about Italian culture at Müpa Budapest


Dolce vita at Bridging Europe: this fall, it’s all about Italian culture at Müpa Budapest

Who knew that tourists toss a total of 3000 Euros’ worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain in Rome each day? Or that Italy has the most world heritage sites of any country in the world? Between 18 and 30 September, the Bridging Europe festival, organised jointly by the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) and Müpa Budapest, will spotlight Italy, the home of dolce vita – the good life. For the seventh time, the series of colourful events will offer a selection of artistic creations of countless different genres, each from a specific European country with a rich cultural tradition. On offer will be fine arts, films, as well as classical, world and popular music and literature. An international sensation, the festival will also host the premiere of Iván Fischer’s newest opera staging, Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, the ending of which the conductor and composer himself reconstructed.

Last year’s Bridging Europe festival centred on the arts of the Baltic countries and Poland; this time, the festival organised jointly by Müpa Budapest and the Budapest Festival Orchestra will shine the spotlight on Italy. “Italy is the object of our unceasing wonder, and is the cradle of culture: we love the feeling of dolce vita and we are enamoured of Italian gastronomy and film. What’s more, the first piece to be performed in Müpa Budapest’s Festival Theatre was Claudio Monteverdi’s first opera – which makes it all the more special for our institution that the festival this year will open with L’Orfeo. Monteverdi’s Italy, Fellini’s Italy, Zeffirelli’s Italy: so many emblematic artists, and as many different experiences of Italy across a variety of genres. What we are especially interested in – just as we are each year at the Bridging Europe festival – is just what else awaits us beyond the stereotypes and the first things that come to mind,” says Müpa Budapest CEO Csaba Káel. “If we are in search of the impulse which launched the culture of the modern era, we need only look at Giotto’s art. After a break of nearly one thousand years, Italian – and then, European – art began to blossom again. We are all followers of the artistic efforts of the quattrocento and the cinquecento. Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio and Monteverdi launched the incredible process of western culture that continues to this day. Come, let us visit Italy through the Bridging Europe festival, and see the original home of culture!” – says conductor Iván Fischer, musical director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra.

Once again this year, the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) will offer the broadest possible palette of the music of the nation in focus. Italy is, in this respect, a veritable treasure trove, known for its Baroque masters and romantic opera composers: for this reason, the festival will offer a taste of the works of some of the greatest Italian symphonic composers of the 19th and 20th centuries, Italian opera and contemporary Italian composers. On the opening night, the festival will kick off with Monteverdi’s masterpiece, his first opera: La favola d’Orfeo (“The Fable of Orpheus”), performed with the new ending composed by Iván Fischer and starring Emőke Baráth and Valerio Contaldo in the main roles. Additionally, the character of Orpheus will appear not only in the opera performance, but also in the Müpa Budapest Banner Square, displayed on a giant banner reproduction of a 3rd century mosaic, part of the Antique Collection of the recently reopened Museum of Fine Arts. Through the music of Ottorino Respighi and Luciano Berio, which knows no boundaries, we may experience the unmatched power of 19th and 20th century music. Making the evening whole will be the voice and presence of the excellent mezzo soprano Nora Fischer, related to Iván Fischer not only by name. Along with Giacinto Scelsi and Niccolò Castiglioni, 20th and 21st century Italian music will be represented by Giovanni Sollima, who is unafraid to mix elements of jazz or even rock with orchestral music; what’s more, the composer Sollima will also take the stage to show his skills as a cellist. The Budapest Festival Orchestra will be led this evening by the Israeli conductor Ilan Volkov, known as the ambassador of modern music.

The festival will also offer an opportunity to delve into the pizzica dance, originally from Southern Italy (legend has it that the best antidote to the bite of the tarantula is lively dancing), with some of the best pizzica bands coming to Müpa Budapest. We will welcome, for instance, singer and tambourine player Rachele Andrioli and harmonica player Rocco Nigro, renowned experts of several genres including southern Italian dance music, the Portuguese Fado and Mexico’s ranchera. What’s more, we will host singer and mandolin player Mimmo Epifani – often called a living legend of the pizzica – and his orchestra in Budapest, as well as Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino, considered the most significant representative of pizzica revival. A concert by the “Italian Barry White,” Mario Biondi, is also sure to appeal to many, with the singer’s sensual and unmistakeably unique baritone. Rarely does one have the opportunity to hear Biondi, a master of jazz and soul, sing in Italian, which makes it all the more special that he will perform several songs in the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall in his native language. The concert entitled Cinema Italia will feature a unique selection of world-famous compositions by two stars of Italian film scores, Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota, performed by a quartet of some of the best representatives of the Italian jazz scene. The Müpa Budapest Foyer will once again host a number of outstanding concerts with free admission: The song ensemble Cuncordu e Tenore de Orosei will be here from the island of Sardinia; from Naples, Ilaria Graziano will offer a taste of southern Italian world music; and Francesco Forni‘s duo of vocalists, Cluster – which has enchanted Andrea Bocelli and many others –, will be here to conquer the hearts of Hungarian audiences with songs combining jazz and classical music.

The masterpieces of legendary Italian cinema promise unforgettable moments not only on stage, but also on screen: back-to-back showings in the Auditorium will include such globally acclaimed films as Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960) and – as a reflection upon Fellini’s, from decades later – Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty (2013). We will also have the opportunity to see Fellini’s Oscar-winning film , taking an entirely new approach to memory; and we can be amazed by how Sorrentino’s film, Youth (2015), is linked to it.

In addition to motion pictures, the festival will also shine the spotlight on still photography: visitors will be treated to a captivating trip back in time through the photo exhibition of Fortepan, the largest Hungarian-language online photo archive, on display in the Foyer and in the Festival Square. The special selection of pictures will evoke the Rome of yesteryear and today, as well as magical Italian landscapes; the exhibit will also include a number of photographs with a link to Hungary, including pictures taken in Turin of the elderly Kossuth. The Italian ambience would be incomplete without literature: Literárum Extra’s Italian Literary Evenings will feature interpretations by excellent actors of excerpts of some of the works of prominent Italian writers, including Italo Calvino, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Umberto Eco. As a special guest, the popular author Daniele Benati will also join the event.

For the detailed programme and further information about the festival, which begins 18 September, please visit: