Solo Belcanto is now in its third year. The Utopian ideal of a cultural project that unites art, music, history and environment is renewed again. We took a gamble at the beginning and now many look on our Festival with fondness, enthusiasm and respect: this fills us with pride and a sense of responsibility. In the tiny Teatro della Grancia, with its 60 seats one of the smallest in the world, we will be listening to internationally renowned artists who come every summer to our wonderful village of Montisi, between the Crete Senesi and Val d’Orcia, to make music in a very special atmosphere. We are extremely grateful to these singers and pianists who so generously give their time to the Festival, believing as they do in a project conceived entirely out of the passion for art, music and song.
We decided to dedicate this edition to the memory of Giorgio Gualerzi, one of the greatest scholars of the history of vocalism, who died in Turin on July 20, 2016. When, two years ago, I spoke with him about Solo Belcanto, he had words of warm encouragement towards our project. If the Festival exist we owe it to him, to his studies, to his teachings, to the endless conversations around music and singing, the art he loved so much and to which he dedicated his life.
The artist in residence for this third festival will be Chris Merritt, pre-eminent bel canto singer and doyen of the Rossini Renaissance, who together with the pianist Beatrice Benzi will give the inaugural performance and the customary master class dedicated to young singers. In 2016, a triennial project dedicated to the Senesini, the great 18th century castrati born in Siena gets under way: Laura Verrecchia and Davide Cavalli will re-invoke the figure of Francesco Bernardi, the Senesino who was a friend of Händel’s and performed many of his works. Also born in Siena was Marietta Piccolomini, Verdi’s favourite soprano and much admired by other composers of her time: Silvia Dalla Benetta and Michele D’Elia will perform the “greatest hits”. The closing concert of the Festival will be dedicated to the voices of the devil, featuring Andrea Mastroni and Gianni Fabbrini.
This year, there are several important innovations, including the starting time of the concerts, which will all be at 19.00 so as to allow concert-goers to finish their evenings sampling the many food and wine specialities of the area and to get back in time to nearby towns and cities. From this year, the young participants’ Master Class concert will be free to everyone including the residents and visitors who stay in and around Montisi in the summer months.
We hope that at the end of August many of you will come to beautiful Montisi!
Giovanni Vitali, Artistic Director