The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - March 28

Until April 13 Milan plays host to Mozart delle Marionette (Mozart of the Marionettes), a festival that brings the Austrian composer's operas together with puppet theatre. "There's never been a festival like this before, devoted entirely to Mozart - a great artist revisited by the world of marionettes," said Eugenio Monti Colla, the artistic director of the festival and of the Carlo Colla e Figli company, which is helping organise it.

Carlo Colla e Figli is Italy's most celebrated puppetry company. It has been entertaining audiences for almost three centuries. Monti Colla stressed that puppet theatre is one of Europe's most important dramatic traditions. In Mozart's days (1756-1791) the art carried more prestige and importance than today, he said, and major writers and composers prepared works for marionettes.

Mozart's works are among those that have been adapted to puppet theatre most often. "I saw a performance in Salzburg and since then I have always wanted to unite Mozart with this type of theatre," said Piccolo Teatro Artistic Director Sergio Escobar, who is also taking part in organising the festival. Six European companies will stage shows at the city's Teatro Grassi for the festival.

The festival is sponsored by the Region of Lombardy, the European Mozart association and cities, regional governments and public institutions from nine different countries. The performances will be flanked by an exhibition entitled Mozart, Marionettes and Melodrama in the foyer of the city's Teatro Strehler, and another show at the Teatro Grassi with reconstructions of 18th-century puppet theatres.