The History of the Spoleto Festival

Discover the history of Festival dei Due Mondi, the appointment par excellence conceived from Gian Carlo Menotti in 1958. An unforgettable journey through art at the heart of Italy.

Birth and evolution


Gian Carlo Menotti, in August, gave an interview to the newspaper L'Arena di Verona and confirmed that Spoleto would be the home of Festival dei Due Mondi.

Menotti has set his eyes on Spoleto, a quiet town that already has a theatrical tradition [...] the project is really interesting and can succeed.


June 5 kicks off the first Festival dei Due Mondi with Giuseppe Verdi's Macbeth directed by Luchino Visconti, sets and costumes by Piero Tosi, conductor Thomas Schippers.


On June 29, for the first time, Piazza Duomo hosts a Festival performance with Giuseppe Verdi's Messa from Requiem, conducted from Thomas Schippers.

Jerome Robbins' "ballet in silence" Moves, performed as a world premiere, is staged at the Teatro Nuovo.

Louis Armstrong does not participate in the Spoleto show scheduled for the Festival because, on June 23, he is rushed to Spoleto Hospital with acute pneumonia.

Gian Carlo Menotti becomes an honorary citizen of Spoleto, and the press proclaims him Duke of Spoleto.


At the 3rd Festival dei Due Mondi opens the series of Midday Concerts conducted from Charles Wadsworth.

Pina Bausch makes her Festival stage debut with the New American Ballets.

For the first time, the Festival closes at Piazza Duomo with Luigi Cherubini's Solemn Mass in D minor for Soli, Chorus and Orchestra conducted from Thomas Schippers.


The 5th Festival dei Due Mondi sees the Spoleto debut of Carla Fracci.

Inaugurates Sculptures in the City. Spoleto 1962, the exhibition conceived and curated from Giovanni Carandente, which brings to the Umbrian town some of the best-known sculptors of the 20th century, for a total of more than 100 sculptures placed in all corners of Spoleto.


Festival turns 10 years old. Fun Fact: By mistake, the celebratory poster, signed from Richard Lindner, is caused to be printed by getting the Festival's birth date wrong: 1957 instead of 1958.

At the Sala XVII Settembre, Calderon De La Barca's ThePrincipe Costante is staged with Jerzi Grotowski's Theatre Workshop 13 Rzedow. This play attracts the entire world of culture and theater, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Magnani, Dacia Maraini and Alberto Moravia, among others, are noted in the audience.


Bulgarian artist Christo "packs", with rope and canvas, the "Torre dei Molini"and the "Fontana di Piazza del Mercato".

La Santa di Bleecker Street, an opera by Gian Carlo Menotti,is being staged at the Festival for the first time.

Gian Carlo Menotti becomes president of Festival dei Due Mondi, artistic director is appointed Massimo Bogianckino.

A very young Al Pacino makes his Festival debut in Israel Horovitz's triptych The Indian Wants The Bronx | It's Called The Sugar Plum | Chiaroscuro.


The premiere of Ludovico Ariosto's Orlando Furioso in Luca Ronconi's celebrated version is staged in the former Church of San Nicolò.

Spoleto Cinema is born, of which Luchino Visconti is president "to promote to international knowledge and dissemination of film art and culture."


Romolo Valli is proclaimed artistic director of the Festival.


Luchino Visconti staged Giacomo Puccini's memorable Manon Lescaut , such a resounding success from it was repeated the following year.


After long and meticulous restoration work, the Teatro Romano hosts its first performance on July 5 with the premiere of Annie Beranger's Ballet Company.

Roman Polanski makes Alban Berg's Lulu, with Christopher Keene conducting the debut Spoleto Festival Orchestra USA.


The final concert of the 18th edition of the Festival is the last one directed from Thomas Schippers, who is leaving the post of music director of the Festival for good.


The XX Festival dei Due Mondi opens with an operatic transposition of Napoli milionaria by Eduardo De Filippo, who also directed, and music by Nino Rota.

The first Spoleto Festival of Charleston is staged.

Thomas Schippers died and, indulging his wishes, his ashes were interred in May 1979 at Piazza Duomo to Spoleto, a place where the conductor knew the admiration and acclaim of the entire artistic world.


to September Romolo Valli resigned and Baron Raphael De Banfield was appointed as the new artistic director.


The festival celebrates its "silver wedding anniversary." The XXV edition opens with Richard Wagner's The Phantom Vessel, directed from Christian Badea with Franz Marijnen directing.

Jerome Robbins returns to the Festival after a 10-year absence presenting a grand evening of ballets with dancers from the American Ballet Theatre directed from Mikhail Baryshnikov performing Robbins' choreography.

The Rocca Albornoziana, not yet completely decommissioned as a prison house, is used for the first time as a performance venue to host Jean Genet's Vigilanza sorvegliata, performed by inmates of Rome's Rebibbia prison.


A new theater space, Sala Frau, opens to Spoleto, with the show Freshwater featuring Eugène Ionesco among other performers.


After Spoleto and Charleston, the Spoleto Melbourne - Festival of Three Worlds opens on September 15.


Francis Menotti is appointed president of Festival dei Due Mondi.


New flamenco star Joaquin Cortés performs in Pàsion Gitana.


The Festival is turning forty and, among many, to celebrating it is Luciano Pavarotti with his Pavarotti in Piazza


New in this edition is the Spoleto Jazz, a great success especially thanks to the presence of the greatest performer of jazz music Betty Carter.


Francis Menotti is appointed artistic director of Festival dei Due Mondi.


On Feb. 1 Gian Carlo Menotti, founder and creator of Festival dei Due Mondi, died to Monte Carlo.


Giorgio Ferrara is appointed president of the Festival dei Due Mondi Foundation and artistic director of the Festival.

With the show L'opera from three pennies began the fruitful relationship between the festival and Robert Wilson, who will present, in subsequent editions, such great successes as Happy Days, Krapp's Last Tape (2009), Shakespeare's Sonette (2010), Lulu (2012), The Old Woman (2013), Peter Pan (2014), Letter to to Man (2015), Lecture On Nothing (2016), Hamlet Machine (2017).

Luca Ronconi torna al festival con le sue <em>Lezioni</em>. Il rapporto col festival proseguirà anche negli anni successivi con Un altro gabbiano (2009), La modestia (2011), In cerca d'autore. Studio sui Sei personaggi (2012), Pornografia (2013), Danza Macabra (2014).


Highly anticipated at the 52nd Festival dei Due Mondi with her Bamboo Blues, Pina Bausch dies June 30. Her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, decides to go on stage anyway on July 4, giving the festival audience a moving and engaging performance.

Highly anticipated at the 52nd Festival dei Due Mondi with her Bamboo Blues, Pina Bausch dies June 30. Her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, decides to go on stage anyway on July 4, giving the festival audience a moving and engaging performance.


Highly anticipated at the 52nd Festival dei Due Mondi with her Bamboo Blues, Pina Bausch dies June 30. Her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, decides to go on stage anyway on July 4, giving the festival audience a moving and engaging performance.


For the first time on the stage of Piazza Duomo, Riccardo Muti conducts the Final Concert of the 60th edition of the Festival.


Jean Paul Gaultier overwhelms the audience at the Teatro Nuovo Gian Carlo Menotti with his eccentric and exuberant Fashion Freak Show.


On September 1, Monique Veaute was appointed artistic director of Festival dei Due Mondi.


The Festival in its 66th edition

From June 23 to July 9, to Spoleto is staging the 66th edition of Festival dei Due Mondi. A long celebration in the company of the best artists of the international scene in the most beloved stage-city of Italy.

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