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The shows you shouldn’t miss in this extraordinary edition 

From April to July every year since 1933, Florence has hosted one of the world’s oldest festivals of opera and classical music, along with Beirut and Salzburg, and the most important in Italy. This is the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Festival, this year in its 84th edition, bringing three months of concerts and operas to the new Sala Zubin Mehta at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale, with the exception of one opera which will be staged at the historic Teatro della Pergola.

Among the titles to watch are definitely the operas: Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice opens the festival on 12 April with repeat performances on 13, 19, 21, 23, marking the opera debut of maestro Daniele Gatti in his role as chief conductor of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino.

This is followed by Gounod’s romantic Roméo et Juliette on 27 April (repeat performances on 30 April 3, 5 and 8 May), with a superb cast: Juan Diego Flórez, one of the world’s most renowned and acclaimed tenors, and another top name, mezzo soprano Vasilisa Berzhanskaya.

Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro is staged on 10 May at Teatro della Pergola (repeats 12, 15 and 18 April, 20 May), in the original 1992 staging, directed by Jonathan Miller and – as then – conducted by Zubin Mehta.

Next comes Verdi’s I due Foscari, from 22 May (repeats 25, 28 and 31 May, 3 June) starring Placido Domingo. At Teatro della Pergola on 7 June (repeated 10, 13, 16 and 18 June), Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss with the Orchestra del Maggio conducted by Daniele Gatti and an all-star cast: Krassimira Stoyanova and Jessica Pratt are joined on stage by the festival’s Superintendent Alexander Pereira in a cameo speaking role as the Haushofmeister or butler.

The final opera, on 4 July (repeats on 6, 9 and 11) at the Sala Zubin Mehta, is the 17th century Acis et Galatée by Jean-Baptiste Lully (originally Florence-born Giovan Battista Lulli, who had an extraordinary career at the court of the Sun King), with Federico Maria Sardelli conducting his orchestra Modo Antiquo, one of the top Baroque ensembles on the world scene.

Photos 1 and 2 by Michele Monasta, photo 3 by Max Catena, photo 4 by Benjamin Ealovega