- Pierfranco Moliterni
Town in Apulia, south-east Italy. Its cultural and musical history is closely connected with its geographical position – it was formerly part of the kingdom of Naples – and with its architectural status as one of the finest southern Baroque towns. The Palazzo Ducale, designed by G. A. Carducci, was begun by Duke Petraccone V Caracciolo in 1668. Musical activity in the town benefited from the patronage of the Caracciolo dukes and the proximity of the Naples conservatories. In the 18th century one of its most famous native musicians was the castrato Giuseppe Aprile. But even in the heyday of its Baroque architectural development, the town had no opera house. Its importance for opera lies rather in a modern festival. In 1975 a group of interested local individuals and musicians (including Paolo Grassi, director of La Scala, Milan, 1970–75) instituted the Festival della Valle d’Itria, which takes place over a fortnight in July and August, in the splendid setting of the great courtyard of the Palazzo Ducale. Its aim is the rediscovery and historical performance of operatic and sacred works of the 18th and early 19th centuries. As well as works by composers born in southern Italy, those who spent a long time in Naples, such as Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti, are also represented. Other Italian and European institutions have used productions first staged at Martina Franca as models, notably ...