Music and Opera in Florence

Florence can claim a couple of musical firsts. Not only was the first piano invented in the city, by Bartolomeo Crostoferi, but also the first ever opera, Daphne, was performed here in 1598, at the home of Jacopo Corsi. Unfortunately the score is no longer available and Florence has done nothing to keep its memory alive!!

Today’s opera season opens in September and is held chiefly at the:

Teatro Comunale – Il Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Corso Italia 16
Tel: 055 213 535
Bookings: 199 109 910 (9am-9-30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-3.30pm
Box Office: 10am- 4.30pm Tues-Fri, 10am- 1pm Sat, & 1 hour before performance starts.
Website: Teatro Comunale

The Teatro Comunale was originally the Politeama Fiorentino, designed by Telemaco Bonaiutiin 1862, an open air arena. Nowadays, the Comunale comprises a huge auditorium, a single tier of boxes and two large amphitheatres – like semicircular galleries that can seat about 2000 people. The Piccolo Teatro of the Comunale, situated on one side of the main auditorium, is a really up-to-date “small theatre”, capable of seating about 600 spectators.

Concerts, opera and dance are performed at various times of the year here. In May and June the theatre hosts the Maggio Musicale Fiorentina, an international concert festival. When on form, the Teatro del Maggio’s resident orchestra is among the best in Italy and is regarded as high as La Scala in Milan. However, the lack of funds means that big-name conductors and soloists are often accompanied by ‘mediocre unknowns’. The programmme of events is divided into three: January to March is the concert season, with a new weekly programme; October to December is the opera and ballet season, with about four operatic productions, a couple of ballets and a few concerts; and the Maggio Musical Fiorentino festival (founded in 1933 and one of the oldest in Europe) in the Spring. Also between these periods the theatre holds a range of concerts, ballets, operas and recital programmes.

Other top quality venues include:

Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofero
Via di Camaldoli 7r
Tel: 055 221 646
Open: 4.30 -7pm, Mon, Weds and Thurs

Accademia Bartolomeo Cristofero offers a fine private collection of early musical instruments, and a workshop for repair and restoration. Held in the adjacent, beautiful little hall are chamber concerts and seminars, which more often than not feature some well-known keyboard players.

Chiesa Luterana
Lungarno Torrigiani 11
Tel: 055 290 832

Organ recitals and other chamber music can be listened to hear all year round and they are usually free.

Scuola Musica di Fiesole
Villa La Torraccia, San Domenico, Fiesole
Tel: 055 597 851
Open: 8.30am- 8.30pm, Mon- Sat

One of Italy’s most famous music schools is found in this beautiful 16th century villa with extensive grounds. The annual Festa della Musica, an open house with concerts and workshops by pupils, is held on 24th June while the Concerti per gli Amici series takes place from September to June.

Tempo Reale
La Limonaia di Villa Strozzi
Via Pisana 77
Tel: 055 717 270
Website: Tempo Reale

This is a contemporary music centre, located near Monte Uliveto and tends to focus on music technology. Concerts, workshops and seminars are also held here.

Performance Groups and Promoters:

Amici della Musica
(c/o Teatro della Pergola)
Via Sirtori 49
Tel: 055 608420
Website: Amici della Musica

This organisation promotes world class chamber music concerts, most presented at the Teatro della Pergola, from September through till late April/May. Concerts are usually on Saturday and Sunday at 4pm or 9pm.

Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina
Via E. Poggi, 6
Tel: 055 783374
Website: Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina

This young chamber orchestra under the direction of violinist Giuseppe Lanzetta plays a season of baroque and classical concerts from February to September, with a pause in August. The standard however, can vary.

Musicus Concentus
Piazza del Carmine, 14/19
Tel: 055 287347
Website: Musicus Concentus

Musicus Concentus, founded in 1972, has been involved in encouraging large scale recognition of modern music, particularly jazz, while also doing its best to include all other related types of music (new compositions to tributes to the great singer of the past, from folk traditions to improvisation). Musicus has held concerts dedicated to a wide variety of different types of music, ranging from the contemporary and classical experiences of Steve Reich and Michael Nyman to the Tarem Quartet’s Russian folk music!! Some of the concerts now held at Pisa, are performed in various theatres in Florence, one of the most important of these being lovely Sala Vanni (see LIVE MUSIC SECTION) in Piazza del Carmine. Since 1992 the “Tradition in Movement” festival (whose attention is focused on the development of american and european jazz) has been a distinguished feature in the programme of the Musicus Concentus of Florence thanks to its specialization in jazz and musical research.

Orchestra della Toscana
Tel: 055 281 792
Website: Orchestra della Toscana

This chamber orchestra is made up of 40 people and was founded in 1980 with the idea of presenting true classical music in Tuscany. During the season (November/December – May) it gives two or three concerts a month in Florence at the Teatro Verdi and around 40 more in the other various towns around Tuscany. The majority of the musicians are quite young and this is reflected in some of the types of music they play, which includes anything from Baroque to modern 19th century works.


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