The Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino owes its name to the prestigious Maggio Musicale Festival, the oldest in Italy, a record it shares with the Salzburg and Bayreuth theatres in Europe.
Created in Florence in 1933, after the establishment of the Stabile Orchestrale Fiorentina in 1928, which soon became one of the major European orchestras in Europe, it immediately acquired a strong and significant international reputation. The Festival soon established itself as a hub for the dissemination of the great European musical culture by pointing out, introducing and consolidating, through its repertoire as well as through contemporary compositions, with an overall interdisciplinary vision of the performing arts.
The Maggio Festival has thus become a point of reference for the greatest names in the world of music, leading conductors and artists of the highest order, who for decades have performed on the Florentine stage of what was once the glorious Teatro Comunale and is now of the Teatro del Maggio. The theatre, which opened in 2014, has taken on the festival’s iconic name and continues to preserve and perpetuate its reputation in a continuous dynamics with the Festival, which is held in the spring and early summer, the opera, symphonic and concert seasons, and the other activities spread throughout the year.
The Teatro del Maggio is a large modern building fronted by a garden, designed as one of the largest squares in Florence. In addition to its common areas, three large foyers and an internal cloister with an internal garden, a large bar, and a refreshment area, the complex comprises the Sala Grande, the heart of the Maggio’s opera productions – a theatre with more than 1,800 seats and excellent acoustics, as well as recently installed stage machinery that makes it a technological jewel unique in Europe.
The main Maggio building also houses the Zubin Mehta Auditorium, which will open in December 2021: a modern concert hall intended for the Maggio’s rich symphonic and concert activity, which can also be adapted as an opera stage. It has about 1,000 seats, but can be adapted to a smaller capacity, and its acoustics are among the best in the world, certified by both Italian and international university studies and research.
Finally, the Lastly, on the roof of the theatre is a large, white amphitheatre, streamlined and clean: 2,200 seats to enjoy opera or symphonic performances in an open-air setting, facing the greenery of Cascine Park with the wonders of the Florentine skyline as a backdrop. In addition to these three “public” spaces, there are three large rehearsal rooms: the Orchestra Room, the Chorus Room, and the Conductor’s Room, which can also be open to the public, as well as numerous other rooms, of various sizes, used for rehearsals or lessons.
In addition to the great multi-purpose complex of the Teatro del Maggio, there is another precious space not far away: the Goldoni Theatre, a small gem, with its classical horseshoe-shaped layout. The Goldoni Theatre was built in the 19th century, with 350 seats, and is located in the historical centre of Florence, in the Oltrarno district. One of the most avant-garde musical and cultural centres in Italy, the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino is in fact not only a theatre of the highest international level, but also a modern, multi-purpose complex for conventions, fairs, exhibitions, and events that can be held in a space that is unique in Tuscany and among the most technologically advanced in Italy.
It is not only its history that has made the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino famous throughout the world, but also its conductors, including Vittorio Gui (who created the Stabile Orchestrale Fiorentina in 1928 and renamed it in 1933 as the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino), who was succeeded as permanent conductor by Mario Rossi (in 1937) and, after the war, Bruno Bartoletti. He was succeeded as permanent conductor by Riccardo Muti (1969-81) and then Zubin Mehta, Main Conductor from 1985 to 2017 and currently Honorary Director for Life, Fabio Luisi (April 2018-July 2019) and, since March 2022, Main Conductor Daniele Gatti.
Also highly renowned throughout the world are the theatre’s ensembles: the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Throughout its history, the Maggio Orchestra has been led by some of the greatest conductors such as Victor De Sabata, Antonio Guarnieri, Gianandrea Gavazzeni, Tullio Serafin, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer, Issay Dobrowen, Erich Kleiber, Arthur Rodzinski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Herbert von Karajan, Leonard Bernstein, Thomas Schippers, Claudio Abbado, Lorin Maazel, Carlo Maria Giulini, Georges Prêtre, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Carlos Kleiber, Georg Solti, Riccardo Chailly, Giuseppe Sinopoli, and Seiji Ozawa. Distinguished composers such as Richard Strauss, Pietro Mascagni, Ildebrando Pizzetti, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Luigi Dallapiccola, Krzysztof Penderecki and Luciano Berio conducted their works at the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, often in first performances.
The Coro del Maggio, established in 1933 (the year when the Festival was created), under the leadership of Andrea Morosini, is one of the most prestigious Italian vocal ensembles in both opera and symphonic music. It is also active in chamber music and contemporary music, with important premieres of contemporary composers, such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Luigi Dallapiccola, Goffredo Petrassi, Luigi Nono, and Sylvano Bussotti. In recent years, the Chorus has expanded its repertoire to include major classical and modern symphonic-choral compositions: its willingness and ability to perform pieces from different periods and styles in the original language have made it one of the most flexible ensembles, highly appreciated by international conductors, and it has played central roles in significant artistic and civic anniversaries.
Il Maggio also has an international centre for advanced training to provide the most demanding and prestigious professional education for young talents who intend to devote themselves to opera arts and crafts: the Accademia del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.
Courses are aimed at young opera singers, collaborating conductors, set designers, iron builders, wood builders, prop makers, stagehands, audio/video technicians, and theatre tailors, as well as those who wish to acquire and develop specific skills in the field of performance organisation and management. The education plans aim to provide specialised and innovative skills and competences, while maintaining a close link with the musical theatre tradition. The teaching approach is characterised by a strong integration of classroom training and work experience on the field, as well as effective interaction among the various professional profiles involved.
Classroom and workshop activities are thus followed by significant stage experience which, under the guidance of internationally renowned artists, makes it possible to consolidates the capacities achieved and offers students the opportunity to really experience the complex dynamics of opera production.
Young people and Maggio
Attracting new audiences is at the heart of the Maggio’s cultural and artistic vision: given its institutional role on the international scene, the very high artistic level provided by the constant presence of great artists and excellent ensembles such as the Maggio Orchestra and Chorus, the Theatre offers those under 30 the benefits of the Maggio Card. The card is valid for one year and entitles holders to EUR 15 for performances of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Seasons, as well as reduced tickets for exhibitions at Palazzo Strozzi.
Thanks to a partnership with Unicoop Firenze, under 30s can obtain the Maggio Card for free until December 2023.
Where can I buy tickets?
At the maggiofiorentino.com website and at the Maggio Ticket Office, which is open:
– Tuesday to Friday: 10am-1pm/3pm-6pm;
– Saturday: 10am-1pm;
– Two hours before performances;
Closed on Sundays and Mondays