The Ravello Festival is also popularly known as the "Wagner Festival" and is an annual festival of music and the arts held in the town of Ravello. The festival has been held yearly since 1953 when the town fathers decided to use the historical fact of the visit to Ravello in 1880 by German composer Richard Wagner as a way to promote tourism and bolster the economy of the area in the difficult years following the Second World War. The composer had been so taken with the beauty of the Villa Rufolo in Ravello that he is said to have proclaimed, in reference to a character in his own opera Parsifal, "Here is the enchanted garden of Klingsor."
Although the original emphasis during the festival was on Wagner's music, the event has since grown into an almost two-month-long presentation of a wide variety of music featuring large orchestras, chamber groups, jazz, art shows, dance, photographic exhibits, discussion groups and a chance to meet and talk with the featured artists, many of whom are of world renown.
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The Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer is set in a natural slope of the Amalfi Coast and, from a height of 365 meters above sea level, it enjoys a unique view of the Divine coastline. Although the "City of Music" features several beautiful outdoor venues (but with not more than a hundred seat capacity) to attend concerts, dance performances and plays, such as: Villa Rufolo, Villa Cimbrone, Piazza Duomo and Piazza San Giovanni del Toro, it felt the need to provide itself with a new structure, allowing it to extend the concert series all year round, and, secondly, allowing it to host a greater number of fans and admirers.
The project was assigned to the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and delivered, along with a plastic, on September 23rd 2000, after more than seventy days of work. From the beginning, in fact, the architect found himself in front of problems related to natural unevenness of the terrain. Also the architecture of Ravello has Roman and Medieval roots and is strongly characterized by architectural elements typical of such periods, such as arched windows, columns, arches, etc.. So the first obstacle to overcome was just to design a structure that was not in conflict with the architectural identity of Ravello and the Amalfi Coast. Its auditorium, in fact, represents a cornerstone in aesthetic and cultural modernization of the countryside, proposing salient and characterizing points (the curved line and the predominant white color).
The Auditorium is accessed by an oblong square, which allows its visitors to enjoy, at the same time, the amazing landscape and the particular exterior of the building. The main concert hall takes advantage of the natural slope of the land, while the orchestra stand and the foyer are projecting boldly into the void, like the spectacular stage of Villa Rufolo, but without a visible support. Perfection is ensured by the concave shaped building, similar to the perfect sounding board of a mandolin, and the landscape continues to be enjoyable thanks to the large access window and the large porthole located behind the orchestra