Long Ago in Spoleto – The 1975-79 Festival of Two Worlds’ Yearbooks

We continue our journey through the history of the Festival of Two Worlds through the pages of the Festival Yearbooks kept at the Carducci City Library, also available for consultation at the Documentation Centre at Casa Menotti.

For the 18th Festival, Gian Carlo Menotti was involved in numerous projects: he directed the opening opera “Don Pasquale” by Donizetti, while his works included “Il telefono” directed by Franca Valeri and “Il ladro e la zitella” directed by Pierluigi Samaritani. That year’s ballet – it was 1975 – boasted names such as Twyla Tharp, the new phenomenon of American dance, who presented the world premiere of “Ocean’s Motion”, and Carla Fracci and Mikhail Baryshnikov, who were among the great dancers who took part in the music and dance concert in tribute to the great composer Samuel Barber.

The satirical work by Brazilian Roberto Athayde is staged by Giorgio Albertazzi with a great performance by Anna Proclemer. The prose programme also includes Fleur Jaggy’s “A Streetcar Named Tallulah”, about actress Tallulah Bankhead’s struggle with Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece. For the final concert in the square, conducted for the last time by Schippers, the “Gloria” by Antonio Vivaldi and Francis Poulenc will be performed.

1975 Yearbook


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In 1976 the opera was represented by Ciakovski’s “Пиковая дама” (The Queen of Spades) directed by Filippo Sanjust, and Britten’s “Rape of Lucretia” directed by Rhoda Levine who also directed “L’imperatore di Atlantide” but the triumph was for “La Gatta Cenerentola” by Roberto De Simone with the Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare. The Stuttgart State Theatre Ballet and the muscular, virtuoso acrobatics of the Pilobus Dance Theatre are back. Another special feature of the festival is “Umabatha”, the Zulu Macbeth, by Welcome Msomi. The theatre also features Denis Diderot’s “Le neveu de Rameau” directed by Jean Marie Simon and the mask and mime show “Mummenschanz”. For the concert in the piazza, the Festival loses one of its absolute stars: Schippers is already ill and has to give up. Verdi’s Requiem was conducted by Giuseppe Patanè.

 1976 Yearbook

2.Giuseppe Patane

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The 1977 yearbook – which contains special sepia-tone pages entitled “Album sheets of the Festival family” and some introductory contributions by Romolo Valli, the Mayor Gianni Toscano and Gian Carlo Menotti in which he defines Spoleto as an ideal city – highlights the show “Napoli Milionaria”, an opera transposition by Nino Rota with a libretto taken from the comedy of the same name by De Filippo. Menotti stages his “Maria Golovin”, while Giorgio De Lullo directs Mozart’s “Cosi fan Tutte”. For dance there are the two performances of Dennis Wayne’s Contemporary Ballet Company, Birgit Cullberg’s Swedish company, the Japanese folkloric ballet Minzoku Buyo Dan and Alberto Testa’s dance marathon with Carla Fracci and Paolo Bortoluzzi. For the prose Giorgio Celli, together with the theatre cooperative Il Gruppo della Rocca, presents “Vita e meravigliose avventure di Lazzarino di Tormes” directed by Egisto Marcucci with music by Nicola Piovani; by Aldo Trionfo and Lorenzo Salveti there is “Simplicissimus” while Giancarlo Sbragia directs “Notizie dal Mondo” by Pirandello, featuring Romolo Valli – who also reads Beethovenian texts – a trio of one-act plays by Samuel Beckett. In addition to the concert-marathon with music by Richard Strauss and Maurice Ravel, Lorenzo Ricci Muti makes his debut as conductor at the Spoleto Festival in Piazza Duomo, performing Haydn’s “Creation”.


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In 1978, classics such as Rossini’s “La Cenerentola”, Verdi’s “Falstaff”, “Così Fan Tutte” were revived and Menotti presented “La bugia di Martin” and “L’uovo”, two one-act church operas. Dance comes from all over the world (Nederlands Dans Theater, Ballet Internacional de Caracas, Murray Louis Dance Company, Ballet Royale de Wallonie). For the prose there is “La Duchessa di Amalfi”, “Gin Game” with Paolo Stoppa and Franca Valeri, two shows by Giancarlo Sepe and the world premiere of “Virgilio” by Gerard Gelas. Christian Badea in Piazza Duomo conducts Bruckner’s “Te Deum” and Prokofiev’s “Aleksandr Neskij”. But the most touching pages are those in honour of Thomas Schippers, who had passed away a few months before and whose talent and personality contributed enormously to making the Festival great.


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The 1970’s ended with a Festival that did not include Menotti’s operas and productions, although Menotti was celebrated during the final concert, still directed by Badea, when Menotti’s “Missa O Pulchritudo” was performed in addition to Poulenc’s “Gloria”. For opera, Bellini’s ‘La Sonnabula’ and Monteverdi’s ‘L’incoronazione di Poppea’ are chosen. There is also plenty of room for dance with Antonio Gades’ Ballet Nacional Espanol, the Bournonville Festival, The Joyce Trisler Danscompany and the dance theatre of the Grupo Corpo of Belo Horizonte. Lina Wertmuller presents her comedy “Amore e Magia nella Cucina di Mamma” (Love and Magic in Mother’s Kitchen), Ceronetti’s “Diaboliche imprese, trionfi e caduta dell’ultimo Faust” (Diabolical exploits, triumphs and falls of the last Faust) and Marivaux’s “Arlecchino educato dall’amore” (Harlequin educated by love).

1979 Yearbook


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