Bologna has strong musical links. Mozart and Rossini both studied in the city and the former was just 14 years old when he became a member of the city's Accademia Filarmonica, one of Europe's leading musical academies, founded in 1666. Rossini, who hailed from nearby Pesaro, made his operatic debut in Bologna in 1814 with Tancredi and The Italian Girl in Algiers. Both works received a cool reception, in marked contrast to the Italian premiere of Wagner's Lohengrin, which delighted the Bolognese audience and ran for a record 18 performances. The rapturous plaudits stunned even the egocentric Wagner, who was later made an honorary citizen of Bologna, adding further luster to the city's musical reputation.
Today, the musical tradition continues to flourish. Regular concert cycles are performed, ad hoc, in the Sale Mozart at the Accademia Filarmonica and in various churches around the city. Posters are pinned up outside the venue and tickets can be bought at the door. And on the popular music front, national and international rock stars frequently perform in the football stadium outside the city.
The Teatro Comunale is the primary venue for opera and classical music in Bologna. Since 1763, the theater has welcomed some of the world's greatest composers including Rossini, Verdi, and Wagner.
The opera season, reputed to be second only to Milan's La Scala, begins at the end of November and continues through to the end of June. The Teatro Comunale organizes prestigious concerts, both in the theater and in local churches from September through June. Important concerts are held in the Sala Bossi of the Conservatorio di Musica G.B. Martini, Piazza Rossini, from December to May. Music is also featured at the Accademia Filarmonia and the Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi.
Bologna has 14 theaters in total, offering a wide selection of drama from Shakespeare to experimental theaters. All performances are conducted in Italian. The Teatro Duse is the most traditional of the playhouses and from November to May attracts Bologna's middle class with its popular repertoire of classical drama. The recently renovated Arena del Sole offers a more diverse program ranging from the conservative to the avant garde. Teatro Dehon is the top spot for comedy. The Teatro Testoni specializes in shows for children every Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
Bologna hosts many international festivals and concerts. Among them are I Grandi Interpreti, a cycle of concerts from April to June, featuring the best soloists, orchestras, and musical groups in the world, as well as Suoni dal Mondo, a series of concerts taking place in November and December, dedicated to world music, and Sintonia d'Assoli, a festival of jazz and contemporary music, during the summer months.
Bologna Sogna is a summer-long festival comprising art exhibitions, experimental theater, cabaret, rock, poetry and puppets, and is often performed outdoors.