More than 4000 artists will gather in Milan and Torino during September for the annual MITO Festival. It is one of the largest music festivals in the world and half of the programming is admission free. The rest of the concerts have amazingly low prices offering the perfect opportunity to get a stalls seat at La Scala for only €40 to hear Daniele Gatti conduct Debussy to mark the composer's 150th anniversary. €27 will get you the best seat at Milan's Conservatorio for Colin Davis and the English Chamber Orchestra in a Mendelssohn/Schubert evening. You can listen to wunderkind Andrea Battistoni conduct La Scala's orchestra at the Assago stadium for €5 and for the same money you can hear Angela Hewitt playing the Goldberg Variations. The Tallis Scholars, the London Sinfonietta and most of the music in the wonderful Milanese churches come free!
The festival offers a large palette to suit many tastes. There is Paolo Conte and this year's Montreux piano solo prize-winner among the jazz offerings; from Bali arrive a company of musicians, dancers and actors as part of the World Music section; and there is a series of concerts and events for children, intriguingly with an activity for babies who are more than 18 months-old!
All this has been organised with an ever-decreasing budget, a constant theme in the arts' world just now, and one that Turin's mayor, Piero Fassino, would like to see changed. During the presentation of this year's festival he elegantly argued that in times of economic difficulty investment in culture should even be increased.
With coaches laid on to shuttle people between Milan and Turin, it is easy to enjoy the events in both cities, though with 190 concerts in 88 different theatres, halls and churches, even the most dedicated festival-goer would find it impossible to see everything.
Details can be found on the MITO site.
Photo: Andrea Battistoni by Tommaso Ricci
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.