The history of the OPERA Festival

Etna is a strict mother. A divine place where myth, nature and ancient cults merge. An enchanted and cruel place around which secular legends and religious stories gather. The landscape around the large volcano consists of black and igneous rock. When the long lunar surfaces are formed on the slopes, the lava crust reaches the coast as far as the Faraglioni of Aci Trezza. This part of Sicily is characterized by a rocky coast with rough and sunny landscapes that testify to the close connection of coexistence with the volcano. Centuries of eruptions have transformed the area, transforming it into a unique and impressive environment. A protected environment as Etna Regional Park, what it became in 2013 World Heritage for UNESCO. Etna has always been a source of inspiration and finds a place on the pages of literature of all times: from Euripides toOdyssey from Homer, from Goethe to Dumas to Verga and de Roberto. What makes this Mediterranean volcano (whose peak reaches 3,350 meters) unique is a rare and accessible combination of landscapes, geographical diversity and volcanic phenomena. Lava tubes, caves and the presence of hundreds of smaller cones called “buttoners” added to the four main craters on the summit. This landscape is constantly changing: the clouds, the colors, the atmospheric influences shape it every day. Here the plant diversity enables the spread of pioneer plants, such as the flower pads of Etna saponaria or L’Astragalus siculus (Spinsanthus), or even the stubborn ones Etna broom. All around there are forests of deciduous and evergreen oaks, pines and chestnut trees.

Conversations in the forest, Milo, Sicily

Milo, Franco Battiato’s house

Milo It is a small village on the slopes of Mount Etna, 750 meters above sea level. The volcano dominates the city from above and shapes the panorama. Because of the beauty of its landscape and the richness of its waters, it was chosen as a holiday resort by John of Aragon. Barons and bishops were welcomed here and transformed the city into a center of political representation of the time. Today Milo is best known as the location of Franco Battiato’s country estate. The town lies on lava rocks, surrounded by chestnut and oak forests. It looks like a panoramic terrace from which a breathtaking view opens up, stretching from the sea below to Catania. Milo is a wine-growing region with extensive, centuries-old vines in the area (e.g. Carriccante), which are cultivated exclusively by hand using natural methods and according to the phases of the moon. Among the various typical local products, there is no lack of Etna porcini mushrooms, Zafferana honey, Etna liqueurs with organic bitter orange fruits, with infusions of prickly pear, snuff box peach, Marzola mandarin, shank pear, mulberry, Primofiore lemon and Etna cherry.

The history of the OPERA Festival

But what resonates most in Milo is the music. It was born in this context OPERA Festival. ‘“Opera” is the term that describes the typical puppet theater in Sicily. “Opera” is also used in the dialectical expression “fare opera”, which means “to celebrate”, “to make noise”. With this ambiguity An artistic event is being created that would like to pay homage to the country of Sicily. OPERA Festival It is a “boutique festival” that takes place in Milo at the end of August, in the midst of evocative locations, surrounded by an overwhelming nature that becomes the scenography and stage. An example of this is the event at the foot of Etna’s largest monumental tree, the Ilice of Carrinu, a holm oak that is over 700 years old. Among these branches is the musician Generic Animal (stage name Luca Galizia), only with an acoustic guitar, told his minimalist stories from everyday life. Just like the afternoon conversations and the evening DJ sets in the forest or the morning concert by the Berlin artist Rachel Lyn in the middle of rows and vineyards.
OPERA Festival It is an artistic creative project that uses musical language as a tool for territorial enhancement and connection with the natural environment. A nature that needs to be known and preserved, a valuable resource that needs to be protected. Thus, thanks to the solar panels donated by Plenitude, the energy of the volcano will be converted into clean energy to regenerate the entire Milo Municipal Library. I like the project Design & Territory through which the students of the University of Catania, led by Study, They created installations by reclaiming fallen chestnut wood. The result is a beautiful place for social gatherings with benches, tables and stools that were put together by hand together with local craftsmen. OPERA Festival He is inspired by nature, he follows the breath of the great volcano, from which he learns to live a different rhythm, looking for new visions and new ways of inhabiting the territory.

Claudia Zanfi

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