When the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in effectively canceling all outdoor festivals for the rest of the year, some of Europe’s summer festivals returned virtually while others staged outdoor events for reduced audience sizes with social distancing measures in place.
Italy’s fourth New Generation Festival innovated to do both. “Throughout March and April, we were constantly coming up with all kinds of contingency plans”, explained organizer Roger Granville. The British trio behind the festival, Granville, Max Fane, and Frankie Parham were “determined to find a way to put something on.”
Since the last three years, the New Generation Festival had taken place in the private gardens of Palazzo, Corsini in Florence but for 2020, the venue wasn’t “big enough” to build a “socially distanced theater” given the mandatory “health security” and physical distancing. Hence, the organizers reached out to the director of the Uffizi Gallery, Dr. Eike D Schmidt to ask if they could build an outdoor stage in the Boboli Gardens to host their four-day festival. Dr. Schmidt “said yes immediately”, shared Granville. Finally, after constructing a temporary theater with a seating capacity of 500 socially-distant attendees and renaming the festival to Re-Generation, events took place from 26 August through 29 August, reported Imogen Tilden of The Guardian.
For the festival’s fourth season, the line-up was the opera production of Gioachino Rossini’s La Cenerentola (an adaptation of Cinderella); a symphonic concert of The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart, Haydn’s Cello Concerto no.1, and Beethoven’s Symphony no. 7 by the Italian Youth Orchestra, headed by Maestro Daniele Rustioni; and a jazz night by The Three Divas, featuring Dan Tepfer, Dominick Farinacci, Sam Jewison, and Yasushi Nakamura.
Temperature checks upon arrival and masks were made mandatory for the audience. The performers too made sure to maintain distancing, following the markings on the stage. Additionally, while the tickets of the last three years ranged from €35 ($41) to €250 ($295), this year’s show was free with every event live-streamed on the official website of New Generation and the Uffizi’s YouTube channel. While no “corporate partner came on board”, shared Granville, the team wanted to reach out to the largest audience possible and show how “patronage”, “collaboration”, “flexibility”, and “creativity” can “get people back on their feet.”
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