An espresso with…
Viola Costa

June 19, 2018

Tener-a-mente 2018

The Festival Tener-a-mente can be considered as one of the most interesting festivals which are held in Italy. The event takes place in the Vittoriale, the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio’s villa beautiful park. The 2018 edition will start on June 23 with Jeff Beck’s concert, and features artists such as Steve Hackett, Marcus Miller, Pat Metheny and Nora Jones. We have met and interviewed Viola Costa, the artistic director.

Could you please give us a brief description of the festival?

The festival has been existing since 1952, but under our management it has completely changed the artistic offer: essentially, in the past it was a prose festival, but nowadays it also covers music and dance; this is the eighth edition we’re working on. The festival takes place in Gabriele D’Annunzio’s house, the Vittoriale, which in 2012 was awarded as the most beautiful Italian park. It is a museum house, among the most visited in our Country, that stands in a wonderful location. It is D’Annunzio’s creative symbol. The amphitheatre is particularly outstanding; the designer, the architect Maroni, took inspiration from Pompeii and built it by following that model. Notwithstanding its small dimensions, it can contain 1500 persons, is very cozy and the artists consider it as a small jewel. We tried to recover D’Annunzio’s spirit, as he was a modern man, by hosting contemporary and experimental art: the modernity of language and the excellence of the artists.

You usually have a 100% percentage of sold tickets, don’t you?

I have to say that public financing is a very small portion of our budget, so our line-up is very important for the economic support of the festival; in fact, the last year the percentage was that, and it’s a very good result, stressing a constant growth: in 2010 the public average was 400 persons per night.

Who is in charge of the festival?

We are two persons, even if nobody believes that. Me and my sister, Rita: I am in charge of artistic direction, and she follows marketing, sponsorships and communication.

How do you choose the artists?

My approach to jazz was very particular, as I come from the world of theatre and, even farther, from philosophy, so my origins are connected to the word. About 20 years ago I met some jazz musicians who were working with improvised music, and I really was inspired by that meeting. There’s a type of musical language which is able to produce a very strong sense, especially in live performances, which is urged by the actual need of the musicians to express themselves. We tend to choose artists who have something to say, we try to avoid pure entertainment.

I guess this is the year dedicated to great guitarists…

That’s true… we became attached to Pat Metheny, who already participated four times with different projects; his sound is unique, while Jeff Beck has always been my dream. Both have a great care for the sound, they are special.

Do you have a dream?

Actually more than one: I would like to be able to get fidelity by the audience, as well as private and public support in order to have a more challenging artistic offer; we have the spaces, we have incredible locations, but the real problem is, as we are in a geographic position which is difficult to reach, we never have an audience made of tourists; we have the public who is tied to the artist, but not to the festival. I believe that our work should have a cultural function in order to promote talents, and you can do it only if you have resources and fidelity. Artistically, I would like to invite Nick Cave. Who knows…

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