The May of Monuments
The 22nd edition of Naples’s main spring cultural event organized by the City of Naples will be dedicated to Charles III Bourbon and Giovanni Paisiello
Approximately forty days of events and initiatives to celebrate two illustrious members of Neapolitan history who contributed to elevating our city to the role of a splendid capital of culture, music and the arts: King Charles III of Bourbon, the tercentenary of whose birth is being celebrated this year, and composer Giovanni Paisiello, the bicentenary of whose birth is also being celebrated this year. The May of Monuments, the most important spring cultural event in Naples, is dedicated to these prominent historical figures. To mark the occasion, from 23 April to 2 June, the city will be animated by a series of events, performances, exhibitions and late-night openings of places of art and culture promoted by the Department
of Culture and Tourism of the City of Naples in a bid to discover and celebrate Naples’s rich historic, artistic and musical heritage. Charles III of Bourbon played a key role in the history of Southern Italy. He was born in Madrid on 20 January 1716, he became the king of Naples and Sicily in 1735 and, subsequently, the king of Spain, under the names Charles III. Upon succeeding to the Spanish throne, Charles, abdicated the Neapolitan and Sicilian thrones in favour of Ferdinand, his third surviving son. Under the rule of Charles, following centuries of foreign domination, Naples finally gained a sovereign of its own. His reign coincided with the first stage of European enlightenment and the reformatory projects inspired by him and associated with it. During those years, Naples was enhanced by magnificent monuments and buildings. In fact, Naples owes the construction of the Reggia di Caserta, Teatro San Carlo, the oldest opera house in Europe, built in 270 days and inaugurated on 4 November 1737, the King’s saint’s day, the Reggia di Capodimonte, the Real Albergo dei Poveri and the Foro Carolino to Charles of Bourbon. Moreover, he was also responsible for initiating the excavations of Pompeii and Herculaneum and for the discovery of
Vesuvian archaeology. In addition to giving the city a new, modern, European look, Charles III was also an incredible innovator: it is to him that the city owes the flourishing of the arts. He fuelled a renewed interest in literature, sculpture, architecture and, above all, music by welcoming several of the city’s most eminent writers, artists, sculptors and musicians to his court. The Neapolitan school, which subsequently influenced the whole of Europe and whose exponents were Domenico Cimarosa, Nicola Antonio Zingarelli, Domenico Scarlatti, Francesco Provenzale, Francesco Durante, Francesco Feo, Nicola Porpora, Niccolò Jommelli and Gaetano Greco, was established during his reign. By singular coincidence, the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles III of Bourbon happens to coincide with the bicentenary of the late Giovanni Paisiello, one of the greatest composers of all times. Pugliese by birth but Neapolitan by adoption,
Paisiello was one of the key exponents of the glorious Neapolitan school of music, acclaimed throughout the courts of Europe. Paisiello, who died in Naples in 1816, composed several of the world’s most unforgettable operas including ‘The Barber of Seville’, ‘La Molinara’ and ‘Nina’ or ‘The Girl Driven Crazy By Love’, to mention but a few. The main places involved in the May of Monuments events include the Capodimonte Museum, the Royal Palace, Teatro San Carlo, the National Library, the Naples Academy of Fine Arts, the Conservatory of San Pietro in Majella, Castel dell’Ovo and the archaeological excavations of Pausilypon. The 2016 edition of the May of Monuments also includes a section entitled ‘Naples for famiglie’. Designed especially for youngsters, it features activities and child-friendly tours for a truly special, Made-in-Naples experiences.