Visuals and text by Bridget Miller
Maurizia Paglioncini knows what Italy's love affair with art and culture means to the small mountain town of Cagli: "Without the existence of this charisma, Cagli would be very bland and lifeless."
Paglioncini speaks with some authority. She is the administrative director of the Teatro Communale di Cagli, an architectural gem that serves as a symbol for the vibrant cultural life of this community.
Although it has a population of only 9,000, Cagli has a cultural life that would be the envy of most U.S. cities many times its size.
According to Paglioncini, Cagli is a center of art, which is very important aspect of life to its residents. The city hosts art organizations, which range in focus from music, dance and opera to sculpture and painting. The city also boasts an industrial arts high school that concentrates on metal work and fashion design.
The Teatro Communale symbolizes the town's commitment to the arts and is a work of art in itself. It took Giovanni Santini from Perugia and Coriolomo Monti from Bologna five years to build. Completed in 1876, the new theater was promoted as a replacement for the Teatro della Muse, which had been built more than 120 years before.
In the interior detailed paintings of the symbols for the seven liberal arts circle the ornate chandelier in the auditorium. Blue and ivory details scale every inch of the theater beginning in the lobby, winding through the halls, and exploding in color and picturesque scenes in the theater itself. Conveniently located between the Piazza Matteotti, the hub of city life, il torrione - a 15th century military tower the city has taken as its symbol - and the arts high school, the theater serves a very central role to the life of the culture in Cagli.
Though many companies perform, the Compagnia Italiana di Operetta is one that visits Cagli every summer. Most performers do not come this often, although some, such as comedians Fiorello and Sergio Panariello, and singer Gianna Nannini have fans who will come to Cagli just to see their shows. The productions that take place in the theater range from comedy and singing to dancing and opera.
The influence that art has on Cagli is not limited to performing arts, as the architecture of the city boasts numerous structures that reflect its history that dates from 279 A.D. The Mallio Bridge built by the Romans can still carry traffic today, and the Torrione houses a sculpture museum. Besides these well-known landmarks, smaller sculptures and statues throughout the city give citizens a remarkable feeling of appreciation for creative culture. These artifacts are evidence of a history that has been preserved through the ages.
Cagli is hosting the Accademia Opera Festival of 2008 for their 8th season, which is performing from June 13 until June 22 and will continue traveling through other towns until July 20. The company is performing "Rigoletto" by Giuseppe Verdi and "La Boheme" by Giacomo Puccini. On June 18 it performed "Cagli al Balcone" for the town with members of the company singing well-known arias from the balconies of Cagli.
Paglioncini says that the spirit of culture through art has an intense positive impact on the quality of life for the Cagliese and other Italians. Boasting an incredible architectural display as well as constant artistic activity, the theater is possibly the most enticing of the artistic venues that the city is known for.
Ferruccio Finetti, a singer for Accademia Opera says that Italian culture is known for its strong emotions and their expression. These are shown through the beautiful art that Italians create through the use of their hands and their voices.
Finetti believes that the opera serves Cagli by "refreshing the ancient tradition of art" and that the singers "face the world with this unbelievably difficult art form."