Matera 2019

More than 50,000 people poured into the streets on 19 January to celebrate the opening ceremony of this extraordinary 2019 during which Matera will be the European Capital of Culture.

Three days of celebrations that gave a preview of what we will see throughout the whole year. There were plenty of important moments during a ceremony that lasted 72 hours and which had already started on Friday 18 with Matera Alberga and the artistic installations of Filippo Riniolo, Dario Carmentano and Alfredo Pirri in hotels, respectively Locanda di San Martino, Le dimore dell'Idris and Corte San Pietro. The project, devised by Francesco Cascino and curated together with Christian Caliandro, recreates the neighbourhoods of long ago in the most suggestive structures of the city, immediately giving local and temporary citizens an important moment of sharing. Then came the itineraries for visiting the city, marked by light installations from the Lumen/Social Light project, followed together with the other European Capitals of Culture that attended the Opening Ceremony.

The presentation of 19 January started with Open Sounds, presented by Doris Zaccone, Filippo Solibello and Francesco Giorda. It was a moment when the Lucan and European bands, directed by maestro Giovanni Pompeo and followed by the State Police band – which also included musicians from the Arma dei Carabinieri and the Guardia di Finanza – animated the restored Cava del Sole by playing Ode to Joy, one of the symbols of the European Union, in front of around 5,000 citizens.

The great institutional symposium, presented by Marino Sinibaldi from Radio3 with the interventions of the authorities, among which the European Commissioner Tibor Navracsics and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, was held inside the multifunction space of “Serra del Sole”, which was presented to the city for the first time with the on-stage performance of harp player Giuliana De Donno and the Bulgarian soprano Valya Balkanska.

1600 band musicians then flowed into the 12 districts of the city involved in Open City, the second moment of the Ceremony, when the colours and symphonies of all Europe accompanied the 1500 meals served on tables that were filled by the citizens. With Open Lights 2500 lit candles reflected the starry sky in Sassi. It was a moment that catalysed the emotions of the morning: the hypnotic gazes of the citizens looked towards the scenic design of Sassi lit up by a thousand tea lights, accompanied by two polyphonic choirs (Cantori Materani and Pierluigi da Palestrina) which, from Piazza Duomo, echoed into Sasso Barisano. From there a moon-shaped hot-air balloon, visible from all of Sasso Barisano, moved upwards, accompanied by the acrobatic performance of Compagnia dei Folli. Open Show was dedicated to the RAI live presentation, that was presented by Gigi Proietti and in which important guests such as the singer Skin, the actor Rocco Papaleo, the composer Stefano Bollani took part, without forgetting the exhibitions of the Supernova company and Arturo Brachetti.  

Almost 5 million viewers in Eurovision and live coverage on Facebook from all the Enit headquarters in the world took part in this great moment, which ended with the inaugural salutations of the Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who reminded those present of the value of Matera as a symbol of Southern Italy that wants to renew.

With Open Future the parade of bands, the performance of the lit horses of Compagnie des Quidams and the celestial air carillon of Transe Express enchanted the packed and exultant roads of the centre.

The last moment of the Ceremony was filled by Open the Night, with 12 bars in the city that remained open until the first light of dawn. The natural closing of these 3 extraordinary days of celebration ended on Sunday 20 January, with the inauguration of the exhibitions Mater(i)a P(i)etra and Ars Excavandi in Matera and with the celebration of the Lucan districts with the performance of the hosted bands.