Taranta, a folk dance created in southern Italy as a response to the bite of the tarantula, is now celebrated in the form of “La Notte della Taranta“, a music festival which culminates in a series of concerts each August.
Official La Notte della Taranta festival photo
According to the legend, when the spider bites you, the only way to flush out the poison from a potentially lethal bite is to dance. But a slow waltz will not work, nor even a flowing tango. You have to throw your hands in the air, jump, thrash, shout. You quite literally have to dance as though your life depended on it. And it was from this story that the traditional dance of “Pizzica“ was born.
“La Notte della Taranta” is Italy’s biggest music festival and one of Europe’s most important music events dedicated to traditional culture. It is dedicated to the re-discovery of Salento’s folk music and its fusion with other types of music – from world music to rock, from jazz to classical music. The festival has offered around twenty high quality concerts every summer since 1998, when it was established.
The Festival moves from place to place around Salento, normally culminating in a big final concert in Melpignano on the last Saturday in August, which lasts until late at night. Around 100.000 people usually attend the spectacle of the final night.
The festival, which this year turns twenty years old, is made unique by inviting a “Maestro Concertatore” to arrange and interpret classics from the local musical tradition, directing a group of nearly thirty musicians from Salento together with exceptional guests from Italy and abroad. Some of the most famous “Maestri Concertatori” who have contributed to the growth of “La Notte della Taranta” are Daniele Sepe (1998), Joe Zawinul (2000), Ambrogio Sparagna (2004, 2005, 2006), Goran Bregovic (2012), and Giovanni Sollima (2013-2014).
This winter, “La notte della Taranta” will play their New Year’s concert in Catania, Sicily. On 31st December the Concertone di Melpignano, loaded with rhythm and strong emotions, will warm its Sicilian audience, so if you cannot make it this summer, this is your second chance to experience the magic of Taranta will happen a couple of months from now.