His last completed opera
Parsifal is the last opera composed by Wagner and the last one to follow the medieval religious traditions motives, such as the quest for the Holy Grail and the Holy Lance. In his journey filled with challenges, a young, naive soul wrongly perceived as crazy named Parsifal succeeds in retrieving the Holy Lance and defeating the evil wizard Klingsor. The composer staged the opera in Bayreuth, a German city that had always been linked to esotericism (there’s still has a museum dedicated to freemasonry today). This is one reason why lots of historians during the years associated Richard Wagner with masonic movements. Regardless, the opera marked an unforgettable moment in the history of Ravello and took part in forging the identity of the place forever.
The first edition of the Ravello Festival
On 18 May 1932, Ravello hosted a grand concert: an occasion to honor Wegner and to thank Mr. Reid. Locals, tourists, and even relevant personalities showed up to celebrate: Prince and Princess of Piedmont Umberto di Savoia and Maria José of Belgium, Maria di Savoia, Princess of Hesse, Princess Euxodia of Bulgaria, and Princes Roman of Russia. Additionally, even Prince and Princess of Sulmona Borghese, Lieutenant of Vascello Montezemolo, and Captain Piroddi, the officer of the Prince of Piedmont, attended. The concert was held in the gorgeous garden that inspired Wagner to write his second act and his friend Paul von Joukowsky. The painter indeed sketched Parsifal in that garden surrounded by naked young girls trying to seduce him.
The symbolism of flowers
At the event, Royal was gifted bundles of roses from Paestum and Ravello. The roses from Paestum had been appreciated since ancient times for their elegant and beautiful appearance, their fantastic scent, and for the characteristic of blooming only twice a year. The roses of Ravello were one of the favorites of the Scottish botanist, who thought they were the perfect symbols of perfection and infinity (ideas that have been associated with this flower since the Middle Ages). In the summer of 1953, Paolo Caruso, President of Azienda Autonoma Soggiorno e Turismo in Ravello, followed the tradition while adding a bold stage floating in the air during the event. On the 76th anniversary of Wagners’ death, the city hosted two impressive concerts where Hermann Scherchen and William Steinberg played the Teatro San Carlo’s orchestra.
Music of today
During the years, citizens of Ravello have given their contribution to the festival’s perfect rendition. Pasquale Palumbo recently joined Paolo Caruso in the story of this event. The man started giving music lessons to the young people of Ravello since he was very young; then, little by little, he became an active part of the concert’s organization not only in his city but also all around the Amalfi Coast. Thanks to his brilliant idea, every 11 August in Ravello, a sunrise concert takes place, and it has quickly become a must event for the city’s summer season. The show starts around five in the morning and ends when the sun shines bright in the sky, a unique celebration that, as the sun rising, still amazes us every time.
(Translation by Michela Pandolfi)