The Ravenna Festival is a summer festival of opera and classical music (as well as dance, jazz, ethnic, electronic music, drama, film, plus conventions and exhibitions) held in the city of Ravenna, Italy and the surrounding area each June and July.
It was founded in 1990 by Maria Cristina Mazzavilani, the wife of conductor Riccardo Muti, who makes regular appearances there.
Other well-known conductors who have appeared at the Festival include Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado, Chung, Gavazzeni, Lorin Maazel, Valery Gergiev, Zubin Mehta, Georg Solti, Giuseppe Sinopoli, Carlos Kleiber, and Georges Prêtre. The Festival also offers operatic productions in the Teatro Comunale Alighieri, as well as performances of jazz and popular music.
Ravenna Festival is characterized by an extremely varied artistic program including all types of performative arts: symphonic and chamber music, opera, drama, dance, musical theatre, jazz and ethnic music. During two months, the entire city becomes a stage: its staggering gilded basilicas, encrusted with ancient mosaics; its elegant historical theaters, its cloisters, gardens, squares and ancient buildings brought back to life. And also the city’s port and industrial heritage sites, its beaches and its pine forest, where Dante was hosted, and further off, the gently rolling hills peeping from the distant horizon… All these places become venues, apt to illustrate the past of a city and a region that used to be the crossroads of peoples and cultures. Year after year, the Festival’s artistic directors — Cristina Mazzavillani Muti, Franco Masotti and Angelo Nicastro — lay out a rich program of events focus on a main cultural or artistic theme.
Through the years, Ravenna Festival’s stage has been graced by world-acclaimed artists: conductors like Pierre Boulez, Claudio Abbado, Yuri Temirkanov, Zubin Mehta, George Prêtre, Valerij Gergiev; composers like Steve Reich, Michael Nyman, Arvo Pärt, Ennio Morricone, Philip Glass; ballet étoiles like Alessandra Ferri, Roberto Bolle, Svetlana Zakharova; dance companies like the Marinskij Theatre’s, the Hamburg Ballet, Bill T.Jones’s, Martha Graham’s, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures; directors like Robert Wilson, Peter Stein, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luca Ronconi; jazz scene protagonists like Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Enrico Rava; soloists like Martha Argerich, Yo-Yo Ma, Lang Lang, Maurizio Pollini; popular names like Burt Bacharach, Lou Reed and Bob Dylan.
Ravenna Festival program always includes a special event meant to celebrate the friendship and the cooperation between countries: the Roads of Friendship concerts (from the first one held in Sarajevo in 1997 to the other equally unforgettable events held year after year in Beirut, Moscow, Erevan and Istanbul, New York, Cairo, Damascus, etc.) honor the universality of the musical language.