► Riccardo Muti conducts the Festival’s opening concert, marking the return of music to Italian stages, and leads theLuigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra in two additional concerts in Ravenna. They are also joined by members of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra for a special Roads of Friendship pilgrimage to the archaeological site of Paestum, sister city of Palmyra
► Other guest artists this summer include Valery Gergiev,Beatrice RanaIvan Fischer and the Budapest Festival OrchestraAnna ProhaskaTamás VargaMario Brunello,Stefano BollaniAccademia Bizantina and rising star countertenor Carlo Vistoli
► Over 40 public events in a newly imagined five-week programme, in keeping with the Ravenna Festival’s spirit. A vibrant array of artists and genres, including theatre, dance and film.

Following last month’s good news that this year’s Ravenna Festival will go ahead, the complete programme has now been published on the festival website: a 15th-century fortress, Rocca Brancaleone, will be the main open-air venue, seating an audience of 300, and events will also take place close to the pine forest of Cervia and in the 18th-century porticoed market square of Lugo, near to Ravenna. The Ravenna Festival website will host streamed content, including one symbolic concert, otherwise closed to the public, in the Basilica of San Vitale, a Unesco World Heritage monument.

photo credit: Jenny Carboni

At the heart of each summer is the annual Roads of Friendship – a musical pilgrimage that since 1997 has brought Italian musicians together with colleagues from around the world under the baton of Riccardo Muti, promoting peace and brotherhood through music. This year’s concert is dedicated to the Syrian people and to the memory of Hevrin Khalaf, the 35-year-old Secretary General of the Future Syria Party who was killed in an ambush in Syria in October 2019. A civilian activist for women’s rights and the Kurdish liberation movement, Hevrin Khalaf worked tirelessly towards increasing tolerance and unity among Christians, Arabs, and Kurds. Joining Muti and the Cherubini Youth Orchestra for two performances of Beethoven’s Eroica on 3 July in Ravenna and on 5 July in Paestum will be members of the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra. As making a pilgrimage abroad is currently impossible, the Festival will travel to Southern Italy to the archaeological site of Paestum, which is linked to Syria’s Palmyra through its Roman history, Unesco recognition, and recent twinning in memory of archaeologist Khaled Al-Asaad. Al-Asaad was a victim of ISIS against which he strived to protect Palmyra’s greatly damaged heritage.“In 2004 the Roads of Friendship travelled to Bosra, between Damascus and Aleppo; this year we already knew that it would be impossible to reach Syria, so we invited Syrian musicians to join us. The situation in Italy and Europe has deeply changed since that announcement in January, still we believe that our own wounds ought not to make us forgetful: we should remember the suffering of the Syrian people.” Antonio De Rosa, General Manager.

Ravenna Festival Highlights

► Riccardo Muti leads the Cherubini Orchestra he founded as a training ground for musicians under 30 in the opening concert, featuring Scriabin’s Rêverie, Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate and Et incarnatus est, with soprano soloist Rosa Feola and Symphony No. 41, Jupiter  (21 June)
► Ravenna-based Accademia Bizantina performs Händel’s Italian oratory Il Trionfo del tempo e del disinganno with Emmanuelle de Negri as Pleasure, Monica Piccinini as Beauty, Delphine Galou as Disillusionment, and Anicio Zorzi Giustiniani as Time (24 June)
► Valery Gergiev conducts the Cherubini Orchestra for a Beethoven tribute, including the Pastoral and Piano Concerto No. 3 with Beatrice Rana (28 June)
► Sacred music by Matteo da Perugia and the motets from the Cyprus Code (15th century) performed by ensemble La fonte musicain the Basilica of San Vitale (30 June)
► Iván Fischer, the Budapest Festival Orchestra and soprano Anna Prohaska perform Britten’s Les illuminations, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll  and Haydn’s Symphony no.104 London (1 July)
► Muti leads the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra and musicians from the Syrian National Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven’s Eroica for the two concerts of the Roads of Friendship in Ravenna (3 July) and Paestum (5 July)
► Sergio Castellitto and Isabella Ferrari bring to the stage Ci sono giorni che non accadono mai, a play by Valerio Cappelli on love and its demons during the time of lockdown, with music by Ennio Morricone never previously performed (9 July)
► Amor tiranno, an exploration of love and music in 17th-century Venice with fast-rising countertenor Carlo Vistoli and Ensemble Sezione Aurea (10 July)
► Wiener cellist Tamás Varga joins Muti and the Luigi Cherubini Youth Orchestra for Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, in a programme which also features Symphony no. 9 From the New World (12 July)
► A projection of the silent cinema masterpiece City Lights (1931), accompanied by live music with Charlie Chaplin music expert Timothy Brock and local Orchestra Arcangelo Corelli (15 July)
► An evening of music and dance with Mario Brunello (cello), Beatrice Rana (piano), real life dancing couples Silvia Azzoni and Alexandre Ryabko (Hamburg Ballet), Iana Salenko and Marian Walter (Berlin Staatsballett) and solos performed by Hugo Marchand (Opéra de Paris), Sergio Bernal (former Spanish National Ballet) and Matteo Miccini (Stuttgart Ballet) (18 July)
► Ernst Reijseger’s Requiem for a Dying Planet presents music the cellist-composer created for Werner Herzog’s documentary films on the relationship between man and nature, projected during the concert (20 July)
► Versatile Stefano Bollani presents his Piano Variations on Jesus Christ Superstar, 50 years after the original album release (25 July)
The Ravenna Festival hopes that audiences both at home and abroad will join them this summer, either in person or online. The team also looks forward to the Autumn Trilogy (6-15 November) and the 2021 programme, which will be a celebration of Ravenna’s most famous honorary citizen, Dante Alighieri, who lived and died in Ravenna in 1321.