To the mainstream music fan, the words “Italian music” conjures up images of tenors belting out high notes in formal recitals attended by members of high society. To a certain degree, that’s true but there’s so much more to music in Italy than what American media may suggest.
Italy’s music scene is as diverse as that of any country in North America and western Europe. A testament to that is the multitude of festivals dedicated to music that are held throughout the nation every year. So, if you want a little of everything, here are the five Italian festivals for the music lover that you should watch out for.
Arena di Verona Opera Festival
There’s no denying that Italy is the home of opera. What could be more incredible than an opera performance in an ancient Roman auditorium? At the Arena di Verona Opera Festival held from June until September every year, you can do just that. The year 2014 will mark the 92nd edition of the festival in the legendarily romantic city of Verona. Carmen, Aida, Turandot, and Madam Butterfly are some of the beloved operas scheduled in addition to a performance by Placido Domingo who will sing Verdi.
Rock in Roma
Does something modern suit your musical taste more? Then the line up for the major international festival hosted by the Eternal City every year, Rock in Roma has a lot for you to choose from. Queens of the Stone Age kick things off in early June. It receives a huge follow up as Metallica hits the Italian capital on July 1st. This concert already carries a huge buzz and the excitement is in the air. Other popular bands like Kings of Leon, The Black Keys and the Lumineers will perform at the Campanelle race course during the summer months of June and July.
The picturesque medieval towns in the green heart of Italy are host to one of the most important jazz festivals in the world. Umbria Jazz is held twice a year: once in summer and once during the winter. The winter version, held at the end of December through early January, is usually in and near Orvieto.
The summer festival will be from July 11th through 20th with the main stages and venues set in the town of Perugia.
If Italian pop music is your passion, the Sanremo Italian song festival held in the Ligurian coast is a must. This music contest has Italians from the Alps to Sicily glued to their televisions for four nights running to discover which song they will hum along to for the year. The San Remo Festival took place from the 18th to the 22nd of February. The winner of this pop extravaganza was Arisa for the song “Controvento” by composer Giuseppe Anastasi for the Big Artists section. Rocco Hunt won the Newcomers section for the song “Nu juorno buono”.
The breathtaking stage that seems to float miles above the sparkling sea with a view of the cliffs and villages of the Amalfi Coast is reason enough to visit Ravello. But if you are planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast from early summer to early fall, there are concerts on most weekend evenings in the spectacular Belvedere di Villa Rufolo stage. From the 21st of June until the 13th of September, evenings will spotlight symphony orchestras and jazz quartets. The distinguished Alvin Ailey Dance Company will also perform. The theme for the 2014 Ravello festival is “Tomorrow.”
Those are our five picks as far as Italian music festivals are concerned. We’ve come up with this list based on experience in traveling the country and via the feedback that we get from tourists that we guide when they’re seeing Italy for the first time. Which among these festivals do you find most interesting? Let us know in the comments section.