Festival dei due mondi (Festival of the Two Worlds)

 

The name of this grand festival of the arts literally translates as ‘Festival of the two worlds’, referring to how in 1958 it began as a bridge between the Italian arts and the rest of the world, that fascism, WWII and the language barrier had kept quite removed from each other. In fact, in its first thirty years the Spoleto Festival was mostly about bringing foreign arts to Italy and not the opposite. The festival covers all performing arts, some figurative art and it has even spawned a parallel science festival. With time it has grown into what is possibly the world’s most important arts festival, even giving birth to a Piccolo Spoleto Festival  (literally ‘little festival’) in Charleston, USA, and to the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

The most striking characteristic of the Spoleto Festival is its sheer length, required to fit the hundreds of top-quality performances, conference and exhibitions in the dozen of theatres and halls available throughout the town. The very features of Spoleto, mixing ancient and venerable architecture with more modern venues, mirrors the spirit of the festival – this is in fact the best place to see unusual and innovative shows handpicked all over the world, yet the program also lists selected, top notch performances of classics, often bringing on stage their most famous performers. The festival is traditionally concluded with a philharmonic concert held in the monumental square before the ancient cathedral. In recent times the Spoleto Festival has in a sense fallen victim to its own success. The format has been copied by many similar events both in Italy and abroad, and while the quality of the original event remains hardly surpassable this has led to a shrinking attendance and media attention.