Beirut's Al Bustan Fest Dedicates Program to Italian Classical Music

Published January 10th, 2019 - 09:57 GMT
Al Bustan International Music Festival  (Twitter)
Al Bustan International Music Festival (Twitter)

The 26th edition of Al Bustan International Music Festival will dedicate its program to Italian classical music, offering a varied set of concerts by renowned international artists.

The 20-event program set to take the stage from Feb. 12 to March 17 at Beit Mery’s Al Bustan Hotel and a sprinkling of smaller locations around the country, boasts over 200 musicians, all performing under the theme “Crescendo.”

“‘The crescendo’ was a very good way to describe the theme of this year,” conductor and Artist Director Gianluca Marciano said at Wednesday’s news conference.

“It’s an Italian musical term that became an international term. Everyone knows what it is.


“Rossini was the master of the crescendo, and this festival will also grow as it goes, with a whole week dedicated to La Scala, the top opera house of the world.

“The first evening we have four artists. I want to focus on Miriam Prandi, a young cellist who this September opened the season for La Scala for the MITO Festival,” he added, referring to the annual music event that unites the Italian cities of Milan and Turin. “It was a huge success so I invited her here to open with five works, including the ‘Rococo Variations’ of Tchaikovsky.”

On Feb. 13 Italian tenor Joseph Calleja, who was discovered by Al Bustan at the beginning of his career and now sings at The Metropolitan Opera, will perform the playlist from his new album of Verdi tunes.

Mexican tenor Javier Camarena, described by Marciano as “the top tenor in the world for Rossini,” will be paying tribute to the Italian composer on March 8.

Marciano said Al Bustan invited bandoneon (a type of accordion) virtuoso Mario Stefano Pietrodarchi, “to give a program ... from the Renaissance to the Baroque and coming till today with Italian film music like Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone, with a homage to ‘La Dolce Vita.’ It will be music with a screen showing characters from the film and other parts of great Italia cinema.”

All six Paganini violin concertos will also grace the festival. Split into two shows on Feb. 23 and March 5, each piece will be performed by a different virtuoso, including the winner of the last Paganini Competition, 17-year-old prodigy Kevin Zhu, who will perform Concerto No. 3.

Giulio Plotino, who has recorded all of Paganini’s music on the composer’s own instrument and is one of the only two Italian violinists to win the competition, will perform No. 2.

The World Youth Chamber Orchestra will stop at the festival for a free concert (Feb. 24) on its world tour, and the Accademia Bizantina will return with Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” at St. Joseph Church (Feb. 25) and Vivaldi’s “Viola d’Amore” concertos and “Agitata,” sung by Delphine Galou at the St. Elie Church (Feb. 27).

In March, the Odhecaton Ensemble will perform Monteverdi at Byblos’ St. John-Marc Church.

“Monteverdi was the father of the great polyphonic music and it brought the value of experimental music to its height,” Marciano said.

“A festival dedicated to Italy could not miss an opera performance,” he added. “It will be in concert form but it will be ‘La Traviata,’ the most popular of Verdi’s work and a symbol of Italian opera for everyone, full of pieces like Violetta’s first ‘Aria’ or ‘Sempre Libera.’ Violetta will be [performed] by Maria Mudryak, who already sang ‘La Traviata’ at La Scala, and Vincenzo Costanzo will play Alfredo.”

The last week will start with renowned pianist Khatia Buniatishvili, followed by scenes from much-loved ballets like “Esmeralda” and “La Bayadere” by La Scala Ballet School dancers and a bel canto show from the rising stars of La Scala Academy. The grand finale will be Vivaldi and Astor Piazzolla’s respective “Four Seasons,” performed by La Scala Ensemble.

This year’s three-day master class, set to take place March 12-14, will be given by mezzo-soprano Luciana d’Intino to 50 people. A talk titled “Vivaldi: Much more than the ‘Four Seasons’” will be given at the Sursock Museum Feb. 18 by Susan Orlando, covering Vivaldi’s lesser-known musical repertoire.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

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