He’s in charge of one of the largest theatres in Italy. Meet Marco Betta, the composer and Artistic Director behind Teatro Massimo, the impressive theatre at the centre of Palermo in Sicily.
Teatro Massimo is like a “Greek theatre, where every sound reaches you,” Betta begins. “Sounds mix with the colours of the staging and the drama of the shows, to give you a profound sense of the dramatic.”
For the audience, he wants every moment to feel important. For him, the experience in the building should accentuate the operatic drama on stage.
Be transported by the drama
Teatro Massimo, Palermo. High in the Gods, with a perfect view of the stage, the lights go down. All is quiet. It is a moment of suspense.
The curtain comes up. Mozart’s Don Giovanni is about to begin. Holding the baton is conductor Ricardo Muti, a true maestro making his first appearance in Palermo. A flick of the wrist and the orchestra starts to play.
"Notte e giorno d'intorno girando" – “Night and day, circling around” – sings Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant as the sound circles around you.
United by our foundations
Designed by the same architect as Villa Igiea, Basile Giovan Battista ed Ernesto, Teatro Massimo’s architecture is another feature that enhances your experience. Betta says it’s as if Teatro Massimo was, “built inside a musical instrument” to show how the precision of the building’s acoustics moves the audience.
“Teatro Massimo is a mirror,” he says, “a gateway to understanding the human condition through the power of performance.” As an example, he cites the touring production of Verdi’s La Traviata. Originally set in 19th century Paris, Betta worked with the set designer Francesco Zito to relocate it to contemporary Palermo on the stage.
Worlds collide in Sicily’s capital
Although set in Spain, many of the narratives of Don Giovanni are resonant to the culture of Sicily, Betta notes. The story of a noble lothario drinking and fighting his way around Spain certainly provides the kind of drama Betta believes in. But there are other pieces to choose from too.
If you prefer your heroes to be strong women then come to Teatro Massimo for choreographer Leo Mujić’s brand new ballet production of Carmen, dedicated to the show is Prosper Mérimée’s symbol of women’s freedom. Or perhaps you’re more interested in mythological tragedy, in which case look no further than Gabriele Ferro’s take on Gluck’s Orfeo e Euridice.
And what of the dress code? In one of the most elegant theatre spaces in Europe, you may want to dress to impress. But Betta stresses the importance of individual honesty and comfort. "Anyone who comes to the theatre must be themselves to reconnect with their emotions through opera, dance and music."
Across an evening’s worth of song, dance and beauty, the very concept of drama comes to life. Eventually the lights come up, the show is over. We won’t spoil how things end for Don Giovanni but, you can probably guess that, like all things at Teatro Massimo, there will be drama.
Villa Igiea is the perfect base for an evening at Teatro Massimo. We’ve partnered with Palermo’s biggest theatre to bring our guests exclusive offers and experiences, for a moment at the theatre like no other.
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