The 11th edition of the Illica Festival, a traditional summer musical event in Castell'Arquato, opens on July 4th. In the heart of the Piacenza village, the focus of the event pays homage to the partnership between Illica and Puccini

One year after the stage representation of Istrian Wedding, Maestro Jacopo Brusa, confirmed as Artistic Director >e Musicale proposes, on Friday 5 July, a Lyric Gala to celebrate Puccini one hundred years after his death. The protagonists are the librettos created by the artistic couple IllicaGiacosa: from Manon Lescaut to Bohème, from Madama Butterfly to Tosca.

Accompanying this journey are sixty members of the Filarmonica Arturo Toscanini and two of the most important emerging artists on the national scene: the soprano Federica Vitali, winner of international prizes and recognitions (including the prize for youngest talent at the “Spiros Argiris” Competition) and the tenor Matteo Falcier, who returns to Castell'Arquato after his great success inLe Maschere from two years ago.

Castell'Arquato: one of the most beautiful villages in Italy

The evocative setting of the Illica 2024 Festival is, as per tradition, Castell'Arquato, one of the most visited villages in the Piacentini Hills, named among the 100 most beautiful in Italy, as well as the Orange Flag of the Touring Club Italian.

Located in Val d'Arda, it has its origins in Prehistory and is distinguished by the Rocca Viscontea, emblem of a strategic village that dominates the valley, among suggestive alleys and crenellated walls. The cultural initiatives of recent years, including the Illica Festival, an event of now national caliber, have made it possible to make the Arquato area known beyond local borders, arousing, among others, the recent attention of the national RAI TV, of the program Striscia La Notizia, of the Brera Academy in Milan, of Teatro Municipale di Piacenza and the Franco Parenti Theater in Milan.

Illica and Puccini: Carlo Galante sets music to an unpublished aria by Marie Antoinette

The long professional relationship between Illica and Puccini, including the librettos of Manon Lescaut (1893), La Bohème (1896), Tosca (1900 ), Madama Butterfly (1904), was interrupted in his attempt to complete Marie Antoinette.

Commissioned by the Illica 2024 Festival to set to music the text of the protagonist's aria written by Illica and never set to music by Puccini, the composer Carlo Galante presents the "absolute premiere" of the outcome of the new commission, L'Austriaca. Crying of a Queen, during the Lyrical Galasymphonic Friday July 5, 9pm at the Piazza Monumentale of Castell'Arquato and directed by Maestro Jacopo Brusa.

The "illicasyllabic" allows Puccini, the champion of Torre del Lago known for profoundly influencing the writing of the works and for the sentimentalism linked to the female figure, to break the mold and dare. Luigi Illica, linked to Castell'Arquato by birth and death (9 May 1857 - 16 December 1919) is impetuous and irascible, yet enthusiastic and generous and has a fine knowledge of dramaturgical mechanisms of musical theatre. Together with "Budda", a name given to Giuseppe Giacosa for his mediating nature, Puccini's music is not so much the verse, but the concept and the pathos.

The Puccini-Illica-Giacosa triptych is compelling for the musical balance it achieves and for the progressive and libertine character of its themes. Puccini seeks her inspirations among the real pains and true passions of the humble, Illica represents them objectively. From the intrigues of La Bohème, taken from the French novel by Hery Murger and the story of the gypsy, exaggerated and romantic life of four young artists from the Latin Quarter of Paris to the climax of the manifestations of love in "Tosca".

In-depth appointments

To delve deeper into the human and artistic relationship between Illica and Puccini, the 2024 event dedicates a series of appointments: on Friday 5th July the operatic gala will be held at 7.00pm, a ConferenceDebate with authoritative voices on the national scene such as: Giangiacomo Schiavi (journalist and author of book dedicated to Illica "Il Genio Ribelle", publisher Fondazione Donatella Ronconi Prati, Editoriale Libertà, July 2023 and in bookshops in September 2024for the Milanese publisher Francesco Brioschi with the title of "A genius at work"), Guido Barbieri (musicologist and host of Radio Tre Rai), Fabio Larovere (music critic), Fulvio Venturi (essayist), Massimo Baucia (scholar of the Illica Fund of Passerini-Landi Library of Piacenza) and the composer Carlo Galante, author of the Festival's new commission on Marie Antoinette.

To inaugurate the Festival, on Thursday 4 July at 9pm in the Hanging Gardens of Palazzo Vigevani, a concert by the Quartetto Luigi Magnani entitledThe quartets of the friends of Illica: Puccini, Catalani and Gnecchi. At the end of the Festival, on Saturday 6 July, the "absolute premiere" of a monologue on Luigi Illica by the director and actor Davide Marranchelli, accompanied on the piano by M° Martino Dondi.

The Festival, as always, will be completed with cultural promotion events such as guided visits to the Illica Museum and the Medieval Village.

The program of the Illica Festival 2024

The complete program of the 11th edition of the Illica Festival is available on the dedicated website (click here:
https://www.festivalillicacastellarquato.it/)

Information for visitors:

The program from 4 to 6 July

Bad weather

In case of bad weather, the evening events of 4 and 6 July will take place in the Council Room of the Palazzo del Podestà on the same day and at the same time, while the Galà will be postponed to July 6, again in Piazza Monumentale, at 2am.

Ticket office

Tickets can be purchased online at www.festivalillicacastellarquato.it

The Promoter of the Illica 2024 Festival is the Municipality of Castell'Arquato, the Organizational Management is of ANTEA, and it is created with the support of Emilia-Romagna Region, Foundation of Piacenza and Vigevano and private sponsors.