Matera 2019

The "Matera Seen from the Moon" festival, which took place from 15 to 24 July, comprised a rich programme, including world premieres, concerts, urban design, book presentations and film screenings to recall the first man on the moon and Rocco Petrone, the great Lucanian who guided the Apollo 11 mission.

The festival included 10 days of performances accompanied by lunar installations in the streets of the city centre and major concerts at Cava del Sole.

The festival programme was previewed at Cava Paradiso at 6:30 pm on Monday 15 July with “Nanogagliato Festival meets Matera 2019”, at which scientists from the Academy led by Mauro Ferrari discussed the worlds of science, nanotechnology and space with the audience. The occasion offered the opportunity for a guided visit to Studio Formafantasma's “Visione Unica” exhibition, part of the I-DEA project.

On the morning of 16 July, the Giardino dei MOMenti in Piazza Semeria hosted a series of Lunar Experiments, a workshop for young scientists from the Gagliato Nanoscienze Junior Academy, where the very young carried out a series of experiments, from the phases of the moon to the role of nanoscience in space. In the afternoon, Sasso di Castalda, Capital for One Day, put on a rich programme dedicated to Rocco Petrone, one of the most famous citizens in the history of this extraordinary Lucanian village.

At 6:00 pm on Wednesday 17 July there was a meeting in Piazzetta della Cittadinanza Attiva with the poet and author Davide Rondoni on the occasion of the presentation of his latest book "'And like the Wind. The Infinite, the strange kiss of the poet in the world" 200 years after Giacomo Leopardi's work.

Terrazza Lanfranchi formed the backdrop to a screening of "Italian Moon. Rocco Petrone and the Voyage of Apollo 11". 50 years after the moon landing, it is a documentary produced by the Istituto Luce-Cinecittà for A&E Networks Italia, sponsored by the Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (Italian Space Agency) in collaboration with NASA, and directed by Marco Spagnoli. The evening began with the presentation of a new edition of the book "From the Earth to the Moon" by Renato Cantore dedicated to Rocco Petrone, an extraordinary story combining emigration and the American dream.

At Cava del Sole on Thursday 18 July, the multimedia performance "Apollo Soundtrack" was Matera’s celebration of scientific progress in space exploration 50 years after this extraordinary event. The highlight of the evening was a performance of a multimedia show written by Brian Eno, Roger Eno and Daniel Lanois, which was played for the first time outside the United Kingdom by the British band Icebreaker, with B.J. Cole and Roger Eno and special guest Gyda Valtysdottir, the Icelandic cellist. In the splendid open-air area of Cava del Sole, the audience experienced the emotion and mystery of the Apollo 11 mission in a synaesthesia between visual stimulation and spatial sound. The performance included blow-ups of NASA images from the day that marked the beginning of a new era, as well as content provided by Leonardo, the exclusive sponsor of the event, and images of the Earth taken from space.

On 18 July, the children's book "DI LUNA IN LUNA. STORIE DI UN’ESPLORAZIONE CHE É APPENA INIZIATA (FROM MOON TO MOON: The history of an exploration that has only just begun)" by Stefano Sandrelli, published by Feltrinelli, was presented at the Ipogei di San Francesco.


Two events were on the schedule for 19 July. In the afternoon, "COSTELLAZIONE. IL CIELO IN UNA STANZA (CONSTELLATION. THE SKY IN A ROOM)" opened in collaboration with the Brera-Milano Academy of Fine Arts. This collective, unitary, permanent real-virtual work of art, which started life at ExpoMilano2015, was shown at Matera 2019 in the Giardino dell’Angelo, in the heart of the Sassi. The evening saw the Matera leg of Subsonica's "8 Tour" at Cava del Sole, a mixture of spatial and electronic music that has been amazing audiences across Italy for over twenty years. It was a special evening that sent the Cava del Sole audience into a frenzy!


On 20 July, the "Matera Seen from the Moon" festival also presented some of the projects that were a part of the lengthy process of co-creation with cultural bodies from the area to put the Matera 2019 programme together. They included “The Sound of the Spirit”, co-produced by Matera 2019, Ateneo Musica Basilicata with its Suoni di Pietra – MaterArmoniae project and Lams Matera with Voices of the Spirit | Suoni dai mondi paralleli alle caverne, which were developed in two separate stages. There was a homage to the spiritual side of vocal skills through a kaleidoscopic view of different cultures, touching on Syria and Russia, thanks to the presence of artists of the calibre of the Mirna Kassis Ensemble, Sajncho Namčylak & Actores Alidos, Caterina Pontrandolfo and Nina Nikolina, the Bulgarian artist who attended with the collaboration of Plovdiv 2019, the other 2019 European Capital of Culture, with a concert entitled "Animus Mundi".

This was followed by the world premiere performance of the "Missa Vox Dei", which had been composed for the occasion by Maestro Nicola Campogrande. It was played by the Orchestra di Matera e della Basilicata and the Orchestra Filarmonica Federiciana accompanied by the Coro Giovanile Italiano Feniarco and the Coro ABaCo from Potenza (Coro Polifonico Melos), the Coro Irsina (Coro Angelo Candela) and the Coro Tricarico (Coroeuterpe). Campogrande's God is an angry God who responds to human prayer and intervenes in a Mass in a hard, thundering voice. The Maestro included an instrumental section – the Vox Dei – in the traditional structure that evokes divine turmoil, and even indignation, but it concludes with an Amen with a sweet yet decisive human response.

A rainbow parade invaded the streets of the European Capital of Culture in the afternoon with the historic first city Pride, the Matera Heroes Pride. The celebrations for the first 50 years since the first Stonewall movements, which opened the way to global demonstrations demanding equal rights for LGBT persons were combined with those for the 50th anniversary of the first conquest of the moon through the wonderful feeling that unites them.

With its ties to the ideas of a journey as an opportunity for new knowledge and discoveries, the travelling theatre event "Aware. The Enchanted Ship" arrived in the space opposite the La Martella railway station after crossing Basilicata with a variety of stopovers for performances in the region. The project was co-produced by the Gommalacca Teatro theatre company and Matera 2019.

Guided visits to the “Visione Unica” exhibition by Studio Formafantasma, part of the I-DEA project, were held at Cava Paradiso on 22 July, followed by a screening of the film MOON by Duncan Jones (2009) in the evocative setting of the Jazzo Gattini Visitors' Centre.

The "Matera Seen from the Moon" programme closed on 24 July with a grand concert of symphonic music in the Cava del Sole, in which the Rai National Symphonic Orchestra conducted by James Conlon played a programme entitled "Sinfonia per l’Europa (Symphony for Europe)" in a concert beneath the stars and the moon to close an intense week of events with fine music.

The "Matera Seen from the Moon" festival was organised by Matera 2019 in collaboration with the Polo Museale della Basilicata and the Municipality of Matera.