Music & ballet

An introduction to Italian music

Music & ballet

Italians are great lovers of classical and popular music (as well as opera – see above). The country has produced many great classical composers, including Donizetti, Monteverdi (the father of modern opera), Puccini, Rossini, Scarlatti, Verdi and Vivaldi.

There are orchestras and chamber music groups in all the major cities, the most famous being Rome’s Academy of Saint Cecilia, I Musici, the Scala Philharmonic Orchestra, the Venice Orchestra and I Solisti Veneti. These orchestras perform regular concerts in their home cities and on tour. Most concerts are held on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, tickets costing in the region of €30 to €75.

The Associazione Musicale Romana provides a year-long schedule of festivals and concerts, among the most important of which are the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (May to June) in Florence and the Festival of Two Worlds ( Festival dei Due Mondi) in Spoleto (mid-June to mid-July).

The Gods of Metal (Milan, June), Evolution (Florence, July) and Arezzo Wave (Arezzo, July) are leading rock festivals, while Roccella Jonica Jazz Festival (Calabria, August) is a leading jazz event. For details of these and other musical events, consult the local tourist office or see the Musica website ( ).

Few modern Italian pop singers or groups have made much of an impact outside Italy and the country’s biggest claim to pop music fame is probably Mina, who made her mark in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the pop music scene is lively and whether your taste be jazz or acid funk, rock or folk, there’s sure to be a bar or club playing your sort of music in most cities, often live.

Ask at local tourist offices and see local newspapers for details of concerts and venues. The Festival of Italian Song ( Festival della Canzone Italiana) held in San Remo in January/February is as popular and prestigious in Italy as the Grammy Awards in the US or the Brit Awards for pop music in the UK.

Ballet is also popular in Italy and most major opera houses have ballet seasons, including Italy’s main company, the Rome Opera Ballet, which performs at the Teatro dell’Opera. Italy stages a world-renowned International Ballet Festival at Nervi (near Genoa) in July. Prestigious companies and troupes from throughout the world regularly perform in Rome, where there are also open-air performances in summer.

This article is an extract from Living and Working in Italy. Click here to get a copy now.

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