History

1956

In August, Gian Carlo Menotti is interviewed by the Veronese newspaper L’Arena, and confirms that Spoleto is to be the seat of the Festival dei Due Mondi

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

1958

On 5th June, the first Festival dei Due Mondi opens with Giuseppe Verdi’s Macbeth directed by Luchino Visconti, scenes and costumes by Piero Tosi and conductor Thomas Schippers.

1959

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

1959

At the Teatro Nuovo Jerome Robbins’ “silent ballet” Moves is staged as a world premiere.

An attempt to renounce the leadership of music. Dance alone must work on the spectators through the intrinsic language of movement and representations, even without the aid of scenery and costumes.

1959

Louis Armstrong does not take part in the scheduled Spoleto show because on 23rd June he is rushed to Spoleto Hospital with acute pneumonia.

1959

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

1960

At the 3rd Festival dei Due Mondi Menotti inaugurates the series of the Midday Concerts directed by Charles Wadsworth.

1960

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

1960

For the first time the Festival closes in Piazza Duomo with Luigi Cherubini’s Messa solenne in D minor for Soloists, Choir and Orchestra conducted by Thomas Schippers.

1962

Carla Fracci makes her Spoleto debut at the 5th Festival dei Due Mondi.

1962

Inauguration of Sculptures in the city. Spoleto 1962, the exhibition conceived and curated by Giovanni Carandente, which brings some of the most famous sculptors of the 20th century to Spoleto for a total of over 100 sculptures which are displayed all over the Umbrian town.

1967

The Festival turns 10. Fun Fact: the celebratory poster, signed by Richard Lindner, mistakenly indicates 1957 – rather than 1958 – as the first year of the festival.

1967

Calderon De La Barca’s Il Principe Costante (The Constant Prince) is staged in the Sala XVII Settembre with Jerzi Grotowski’s 13 Rzedow Theatre Workshop. This performance attracts the entire cultural world, with the audience featuring Pier Paolo Pasolini, Anna Magnani, Dacia Maraini and Alberto Moravia, among others.

1968

The Bulgarian artist Boris Christo “wraps” the Torre dei Molini and the fountain in Piazza del Mercato with rope and canvas.

1968

A work by Gian Carlo Menotti is staged at the Festival for the first time: The Saint of Bleecker Street.

1968

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

1968

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

1969

In the ex Church of San Nicolò, the world premiere of Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso in the famous version by Luca Ronconi.

1969

Spoleto Cinema is founded with Luchino Visconti as president, with the aim of «promoting the knowledge and diffusion of art and cinematic culture at an international level».

1972

Romolo Valli is named artistic director of the Festival.

1973

Luchino Visconti stages Giacomo Puccini’s memorable Manon Lescaut, which is such a resounding success that it is repeated the following year.

1974

After long and meticulous restoration work, on the 5th of July the Roman Theatre hosts its first performance with the premiere of Annie Beranger’s Ballet Company.

1974

Roman Polanski stages Alban Berg’s Lulu, with conductor Christopher Keene leading the newly-formed Spoleto Festival Orchestra USA.

1975

The final concert of the 18th edition of the Festival is the last to be conducted by Thomas Schippers, who leaves his post as music director of the Festival.

1977

The first Spoleto Festival in Charleston is staged.

1977

The 20th Festival dei Due Mondi opens with Nino Rota’s operatic version of Napoli milionaria by Eduardo De Filippo, who also directs.

1977

Thomas Schippers dies and, in accordance with his wishes, his ashes are buried in May 1979 in Piazza Duomo in Spoleto, a place where the conductor was applauded by the whole artistic world.

1978

In September Romolo Valli resigns and Baron Raffaello De Banfield is appointed artistic director.

1982

The Festival celebrates its “silver anniversary”. The 25th edition opens with Richard Wagner’s Vascello fantasma, directed by Christian Badea and conducted by Franz Marijnen.

1982

Jerome Robbins returns to the Festival after 10 years of absence presenting a great ballet evening with the dancers of the American Ballet Theater directed by Mikhail Baryshnikov, who performs a choreography by Robbins.

1982

The Rocca Albornoziana, which has not yet fully ceased to function as a prison, is used for the first time as a performance venue for Jean Genet’s Vigilanza sorvegliata, performed by the inmates of Rome’s Rebibbia prison.

1984

The new theatre space the Sala Frau is inaugurated in Spoleto with the show Freshwater, featuring Eugène Ionesco among other performers.

1986

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

1994

Francis Menotti is appointed President of the Festival dei Due Mondi.

1995

The new flamenco star Joaquin Cortés performs in Pàsion Gitana.

1997

The Festival turns forty and Luciano Pavarotti, among many others, marks the occasion with Pavarotti in Piazza.

1998

The novelty of this edition is Spoleto Jazz, a great success especially thanks to the presence of the greatest jazz interpreter Betty Carter.

1999

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

2007

On 1st February Gian Carlo Menotti, founder and creator of the Festival dei Due Mondi, dies in Montecarlo.

2008

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

2008

L’opera da tre soldi marks the start of a fruitful relationship between the Festival and Robert Wilson, who in the later editions has great success with Giorni Felici, L’ultimo nastro di Krapp (2009), Shakespeare’s Sonette (2010), Lulu (2012), The Old Woman (2013), Peter Pan (2014), Letter to a Man (2015), Lecture On Nothing (2016), Hamlet Machine (2017).

2008

Luca Ronconi returns to the festival with his Lessons. His relationship with the festival continues in later editions with Un altro gabbiano (2009), La modestia (2011), In cerca d’autore. Studio sui Sei personaggi (2012), Pornografia (2013), Danza Macabra (2014).

2009

Pina Bausch, due to perform at the 52nd Festival dei Due Mondi with her Bamboo Blues, dies on 30th June. Her company, the Tanztheater Wuppertal, decides to perform on 4 July anyway, offering the audience a moving and unforgettable performance.

2009

The Progetto Accademia is born, with the aim of forging the talents of the future. It features the young actors, directors and playwrights of the Silvio d’Amico National Academy of Dramatic Art.

2015

Giorgio Ferrara’s Mozart’s trilogy opens with Così fan tutte, continuing in 2016 with Le Nozze di Figaro and in 2017 with Don Giovanni. James Conlon conducts and the sets are by Oscar winners Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo.

2016

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

2019

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

2020

On September 1st, Monique Veaute is appointed artistic director of the Festival dei Due Mondi.