16-18 July Mittelyoung / 19-28 July Mittelfest

Cividale del Friuli
Artistic direction Giacomo Pedini

Mittelfest, now in its 33rd edition, closes the ‘trilogy of chaos’ and, after ‘the Unexpected’ (Imprevisti) and ‘the Inevitable’ (Inevitabile), explores the theme of DISORDERS (DISORDINI), and how to find new paths.

Mittelfest 19-28 July: presents 29 artistic projects from 17 countries, including 15 world or Italian premieres and 7 productions/co-productions, with tributes to personalities from the near and distant past, and performances of civil commitment for a new future, all mixing styles, genres and languages to shed light on what seems confusing.

Mittelyoung 16-18 July: a unique event in Europe, staging 9 selected performances of prose, dance, music and circus from under-30 Mitteleuropa, thus giving substantial support to young people. This year with the novelty of a prize.

among the protagonists of mittelfest: (in calendar order) Igudesman & Joo, Jeton Neziraj, Giuseppe Battiston, Alessio Boni, Aleksandra Vrebalov, Josef Nadj, Moni Ovadia, Teatrino Giullare, Margherita Vicario.

Everything is constantly changing, and this inescapable process of transformation is accomplished by breaking every established order, towards a new state of things. There is no remedy, except to flow along with the changing events and to seek for the new paths that gradually come together. Mittelfest 2024 closes a trilogy, as an ideal symphony of chaos that recounted the unexpected (imprevisti) in 2022 and the inevitable (inevitabile) in 2023 and thus arrives at the theme DISORDERS (DISORDINI).

Now in its 33rd edition, Mittelfest – a multidisciplinary festival of theatre, music, dance and circus for the countries of Central Europe and the Balkans, based in Cividale del Friuli, thus attempts to disentangle itself from the ‘disorder’ of the elements that have emerged from recent and earlier history by mixing different languages, genres and styles. It does so by combining, for the fourth year, the main festival with the under-30 Mittelyoung festival, which stages a new generation of Mitteleuropa.

This is how Mittelfest director, Giacomo Pedini, explains the theme that inspired him for the programme: “If the world runs so fast that escapes the eye and leaves those passing by lost: what to do? Take shelter within one’s own walls, watching what happens outside from a screen, or throw oneself into the centre of the frame as a protagonist? Or, like a tightrope walker, navigate events, wobbling along one’s own slender path, suspended precariously towards the goal, amidst conflicts, illusions, races, hopes and other sumptuous disorders? The die is not cast. The state of upheaval in recent years is very high and Western and Central Europe fears not to recognise itself, to find itself worse, but sometimes – fortunately – still hopes to be better. Yet, the intricate and very fast changing of events is the very condition of history and nature, which never repeat exactly the same: in this algorithmic civilisation of ours, which finds shelter in the rigidity of the machine and in the implacability of the technique useful for control, I think that live performance, elusive in itself, is an opportunity to embrace chaos as a life-giving generator of possibilities.”

The two international festivals are staged respectively from 16 to 18 July Mittelyoung, and from 19 to 28 July Mittelfest, while throughout the year Mittelfest continues under the name of Mittelland, with events that give continuity to the festival and identify it as a bridge between European collaborations and local realities.

In numbers, the two festivals stage a total of 38 titles, involving artists from 19 different countries in Central Europe, the Balkans and neighbouring countries, and others from around the world (Italy, Russia, Switzerland, Kosovo, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, Greece, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia, Austria, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, Netherlands).

In detail, this year Mittelfest has 29 artistic projects – 16 music, 8 theatre, 3 dance and 2 circus, to which are added the 3 shows selected from Mittelyoung, for 15 world and Italian premieres, 7 productions or co-productions, all involving 17 different countries.

Mittelyoung hosts the 9 winning projects from the call for entries closed last February with 250 applications from all over Europe: 2 theatres, 2 music, 2 dance and 3 circuses, representing 9 different countries.

MITTELFEST 19-28 July.


The official ribbon-cutting ceremony of Mittelfest 2024 is scheduled for 20 July in the presence of the authorities, but already on 19 July the curtain opens with the traditional opening concert, which, together with the closing concert, forms a kind of musical framework around the festival, this year more than ever combining quality and play.

In fact, on 19 July in Piazza Duomo, the production Happy concert stages the duo Igudesman & Joo, with FVG Orchestra and Lucy Landymor on percussion, for a real musical zapping from Mozart to the Beatles. Whereas on 28 July, in a collaboration that has been renewed over the years with Ravenna Festival, the festival’s closing event features singer-songwriter, actress, podcast author and film director Margherita Vicario with Gloria!, a symphonic concert based on the title of her debut film, in competition at the last Berlin festival, together with Orchestra Corelli.

Then, exploring the programme, in the foreground are several performances, mainly new creations, which, with the presence of great protagonists, seek order by rummaging through the tesserae of time and space.

Among these, the moving homage to Friulian poet Pierluigi Cappello, who passed away in 2017, in the show Le tue parole. Scluse, Pierluigi e il cîl (Your words. Scluse, Pierluigi e il cîl) premiered on 21 July, with a performance by Giuseppe Battiston and original music by Piero Sidoti, directed by Paola Rota, who with Battiston also curated the dramaturgy from original materials by the poet from Chiusaforte, including his lyrics and prose from Questa libertà (This Freedom) (Rizzoli), finally counterpointing Italian and Friulian words with music. The show is a co-production ARLeF – Agjenzie Regjonâl pe Lenghe Furlane and Mittelfest 2024.

Another homage is paid by Teatrino Giullare, with the refined and poetic figure theatre that is its hallmark, to Franz Kafka for the 100th anniversary of his death, in the show La tana (The Burrow), staged, again as a world premiere, on 26 and 27 July, in itinerant form in the dungeon of the Church of Santa Maria dei Battuti.

Instead, a stream of invective comes from Negotiating Peace, a major international co-production, bringing together 9 countries (Kosovo, Italy, Germany, Czech Republic, Estonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway, USA/Serbia), written by the Kosovan Jeton Neziraj and directed by Blerta Neziraj. Immediately after its debut at home, the Italian premiere brings to the stage on 20 July a biting and awkward comedy about peace negotiations, so much acclaimed in present-day wartime. The show is produced by Qendra Multimedia with Teatro della Pergola, euro-scene Leipzig, Prague City Theaters, R.A.A.A.M, Kontakt, Black Box Teater, My Balkans and Mittelfest 2024.

Civil commitment is also the key feature of the show that greets Moni Ovadia‘s return to Mittelfest, for the first time after directing the festival from 2003 to 2008. On 25 July Ovadia brings to Cividale Senza Confini. Ebrei e zingari (Beyond the Borders. Jews and Gypsies), one of his warhorses but with renewed musicality, as in his style, for a recital of songs, music, Roma, Sinti and Jewish stories with which to unhinge conformism and proclaim the non-negotiability of freedom.

Then, poetic and full of memory is the show Talk Radio (produced by Naonis Music Academy with Mittelfest 2024) for words and music, premiered on 22 July, a concept by Valter Sivilotti, on texts by Angelo Floramo, starring Alessio Boni and with music by Glauco Venier, Mirko Cisilino and Alfonso Deidda. The story that inspires this play is a peculiar jazz season that animated Gorizia between 1945 and 1947, when American liberation troops opened a radio station that broadcast jazz great masterpieces.

Also eagerly awaited is the new creation by the renowned Hungarian choreographer Josef Nadj, staged on 23 July in its Italian premiere with Full Moon. The full moon, the end and beginning of each cycle, becomes a rhythmic structure and then jazz, tracing its distant roots represented by eight African dancers.

Closing this group of performances is an original creation, entitled Voci vicine 2.0 (Nearby Voices 2.0), which on 27 July combines the investigative words of TV journalist Valentina Petrini and the music of Fabio Cifarello Ciardi with Icarus Ensemble. A multitude of voices denounce the tragedies of our time, from climate to labour and social issues.

Continuing the programme by genre, the theatre section of Mittelfest 2024 also features, on 28 July, the Italian premiere of the award-winning Slovenian show Paradiž. Una commedia amara (Paradiž. A bitter comedy), directed by Italian Matteo Spiazzi. A sweet and cruel story, without words, based on true stories from our days. On the same 28 July, then, after its broadcast on 8 June on Rai Radio3 and on Rai FVG, it is possible to listen again, in an ‘acoustic version’, to La Cripta dei Cappuccini (The Emperor’s Tomb), the first part of the trilogy Inabili alla morte/Nezmožni umreti (Unfit for death), which premiered in Gorizia on 11 May and is part of the official programme of Go! 2025, Nova Gorica and Gorizia European Capital of Culture. It is a reading for the voices of Nicola Bortolotti, Francesco Migliaccio, Camilla Semino Favro and Simone Tangolo, directed by Giacomo Pedini, author with Jacopo Giacomoni also of the adaptation of Roth’s text, with original music by Cristian Carrara and FVG Orchestra.

Roth is also the author who inspired Zlotogrod, to be premiered on 27 and 28 July and produced by Mittelfest, one of the two itinerant shows of this edition of the festival. With text and direction by Jacopo Giacomoni, this time in the footsteps of the Austrian writer’s stories, the actors of Collettivo Amalgama and the artists of Circo all’inCirca will magically transform Cividale into Zlotogrod, a town of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

The second itinerant show is Cosmorama by Nicola Galli, which on 20 and 21 July will bring a dance experience in nature, overturning the hierarchy of gaze, to ‘dance the landscape’. Dance is also scheduled on 26 July with the Italian-Belgian Fortuna, with concept, direction and choreography by Piergiorgio Milano: two acrobats and dancers move on a vertiginous structure in which they emerge from the abyss.

The Czech Loutkoviště (puppet) theatre by Waxwing Theatre and Art Prometheus, staged on 21 July, opens the Family Project, a part of the festival for adults and children. This is figure theatre, an interactive installation, with a ‘storytelling machine’ that will attract the participation of the audience. At the same time, this section includes circus shows: on 20 July Uno spettacolo (A show) by Circo all’inCirca, inspired by the works of Hervé Tullet, is an interactive journey through shapes, colours and rhythms. Then, on 21 July, Danger, by Compagnia Due, is a clown show from Switzerland, made of humour and without words. Finally, the Polish show In viaggio con Bazylek (Bazylek on a journey) brings on stage a funny dragon in its Italian premiere on 27 July, with the refined Sinfonia Varsovia Wind Quintet and the narrating voice of Malina Sarnowska. Music is also featured in Pizz’n ‘Zipp‘s DiVerdiamoci, which on 28 July takes children on a strange journey through time to the house of Giuseppe Verdi.

This leads to the music of Mittelfest 2024. For world music, Džambo Agušev Orchestra returns to Mittelfest on 24 July in Piazza Duomo with Brasses for masses: a brass and percussion revelry that harks back to the wild dances of Balkan weddings. The day before, on 23 July, Balkalar Ensemble will overwhelm Mittelfest audience with high energy, bringing Balkan rhythms and melodies, traditional Macedonian, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian songs and arrangements that make people want to dance. The same goes for Mittelfest production Kernfusion, which on 25 July will burst with hip-hop rhythms and sharp melodies, for a journey through the electric universe of four young musicians from Carinthia. All three concerts have their Italian premiere in Cividale.

Instead, Pelagos by Katerina Papadopoulou and Aegean Arc on 21 July takes us to Greece, on a musical journey from the Cyclades to the Dodecanese.

For classical music and more, a variety of suggestions comes from Poland. On 28 July for the first time in Italy, in Mindbowing, with two violins and a piano, trio TheThreeX twists every expectation, bursting into a whirlwind of dance, circus and pantomime, mixing Mozart, rock’n’roll and tango, soundtracks and pop hits. On 27 July, Olivier Messiaen‘s Quartetto per la fine del tempo (Quartet for the End of Time), for violin, clarinet, cello, and piano, co-produced by Mittelfest with Associazione musicale Sergio Gaggia, is one of the most celebrated works of chamber music of the 20th century.

On 25 July, with the Italian premiere of Nutshell, the famous Sinfonia Varsovia wind quintet combines works by Polish and other composers, as if in a nutshell.

Still on 25 July, a renewed collaboration with the award-winning pianist Alexander Gadjiev, ambassador of GO! 2025 and artist in residence at Mittelfest: in Romantico disordine (Romantic disorder), the audience will listen to pianists from all corners of the world. On 23 July, with Antennae/Liturgy, Conservatorio Tartini of Trieste brings to Mittelfest the famous Serbian composer Aleksandra Vrebalov, for a mystical concert in its Italian premiere with Byzantine singers, choir, winds and strings, inspired by the 15th-century Virgin Eleusa. It is an Italy-Serbia cultural cooperation event between Conservatorio “G. Tartini” of Trieste, Faculty of Music – University of Arts of Belgrade, Academy of Arts of Novi Sad and Choir of St John of Damascus, Choir of the Serbian-Orthodox Church of San Spiridione in Trieste, Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello of Venice.

Finally, on 24 July, Conservatorio Jacopo Tomadini of Udine presents Gianni Schicchi, a Puccini classic.

Furthermore, Mittelfest hosts the 3 shows selected from Mittelyoung and many side events. These include the Adelaide Ristori Prize (19 July) and a number of ‘Kaffee’ with artists. And then workshops, screenings of short films at sunset with Mittelimmagine, as well as promotional events with Promoturismo FVG. In addition, this year, Mittelfest hosts Associazione Mitteleuropa Forum with the Czech Republic as the guest country.

MITTELYOUNG 16 – 18 July

Mitteyoung, Mitteleuropa under-30 festival, is one of the most original features that Mittelfest brings to the panorama of Italian and European festivals: in its 4th edition it is an eagerly awaited and mature event, to see a generation on stage and, at the same time, to give productive support to young people.

9 shows by artists under 30 have landed at Mittelyoung 2024: 2 music, 2 theatre, 2 dance and 3 circus, bringing young artists from Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Serbia and Switzerland to Cividale del Friuli, following an open call that attracted 250 applications from all over Europe.

What is new in 2024 is the jury of experts, which is called upon to evaluate and showcase the best and most interesting proposals among those nine. The jurors for 2024 are three experienced professionals such as Alberto Bevilacqua, Veronika Brvar and Roberto Canziani.


This year with a new date, in the days leading up to Mittelfest, Mittelyoung begins on 16 July with three shows. The opening act is De Origine, an Italian music show featuring Vittorio Gravagna on electric guitar, Giovanni Nardiello on drums, and the voice of Noemi Fiorucci, for an elusive style rooted in minimalism, in electronics, and ventures into a refined and courageous exploration of timbre and melody. Next comes the circus of Son tutte palle (That’s a load of balls!), by the Italian company Chalibares, by and withAlice Lombardi and Andres Schlein, which takes us into the living room of two elderly people, so addicted to television that it becomes a projection of their own lives, yet with tragicomic implications. The first day closes with a dance performance from Romania, MANual, by the group Platform 13, which is a direct attack on how masculinity is represented, and together it is a manifesto, a collage of quotations, a collection of clichés. The five bodies of Dorin Eremia, Sergiu Diță, Dennis Ilie, George Pleșca, Anca Stoica move in space directed by Sergiu Diță, to explore stereotypes of a genre and its crisis.

17 July starts with the dance of Home, a Dutch show directed and performed by Bai LiWiegmans, a film and a dance solo to trace the extraordinary journey of a Chinese adoptee. The second day continues with the circus show Santa & Glitter, bringing together artists from Switzerland, Germany, Mexico and Argentina, by and withAna Maria Alcocer and Caro Wuttke. A 1980s disco diva and a sanctified queen emerge from a pile of laundry and invite the audience into their bizarre living room to take it on a dreamy MTV show somewhere between glam and trash. Finally, from Serbia comes Lonesome Balkan, loosely based on Martin McDonagh’s The Lonesome West, a black humour play, with Milan Bobić, Luka Antonijević, Marija Stefanović, in whichbrothers Vladimir and Kosta fight endlessly and over the most trivial things, until they lose faith in what surrounds them.

18 July features the Belgian-German circus performance René, by and with Xenia Bannuscher and Dries Vanwalle,two artists who chase each other on stage, from a small, elementary head movement, to the complex mechanics of acrobatics, to show the joy of variation in what might look the same. Next, an Italian proposal takes us back to theatre with Twisted world, from Elliot Rodger’s manifesto, a project by the artistic duo Ucci Ucci. On stage, Gabriele Graham Gasco and Giovanni Conti return to 2014 in California, where twenty-two-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured fourteen. The show collected the significant events of his life, from childhood to the day of the massacre. Mittelyoung 2024 closes with the Romanian music of Marquis Noir, Patricia Marchiș on saxophone, Tim Thieme on keyboards, Cristian Cioloca on guitar, David Vshayn on bass, Sebastian Arvai on drums, in a concert combining music, circus and theatre, video mapping, choreography and fashion design: energy and calm, harmony and disorder, passion and technicality.

Alongside these two national festivals, Mittelfest programme extends from 1 April to 31 December with Mittelland, which will be announced as the year progresses.

Mittelfest is also its territory and its city, Cividale del Friuli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site: a network of audiences, artists, guests, citizens and a network of hotels, restaurants and cafés, in one of Italy’s most renowned regions for history and food. An international food and wine landmark surrounded by the unique landscapes of the Natisone and Torre Valleys, the perfect land for slow tourism.


Giulia Calligaro  

Francesca Gatti


Cividale del Friuli, 29 May 2024