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Ō Festival: music and dance at the Baths of Diocletian

Published on September 12, 2018 by C. P.

The Baths of Diocletian, in a photo provided by the National Roman Museum

If the word “festival” conjures images of mud for days and wellies as well of loud music, people headbanging or disgusting porta potties, well think again! As an example of how things can work differently while remaining equally compelling, the month of September brings to Rome the first edition of a new event called Ō Festival.

With a number of dance shows, live concerts, installations, exhibitions, this sounds intriguing enough for something debuting when all other festivals tend to wind down. One more feature that’s set to draw the audience in is the fact that the entrance will be completely free of charge (provided you make a reservation if interested). And last but not least, Ō Festival will take place not in a stadium or concert hall but rather in a… museum.

You’ve got that right! As part of a process that’s brought contemporary artists and photographers inside the National Roman Museum, Ō Festival will be hosted inside the Baths of Diocletian, opposite the Termini central train station, and in the former Planetarium, a building adjacent to the beautiful Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri church on Piazza della Repubblica.

This is a wonderful chance of relaunching an area that most Romans find merely like a passageway to somewhere else more interesting, as weird as it may sound, and of course to provide more cultural events to a part of the city that’s considered somehow sketchy.

Curated by the young, ambitious Cristiano Leone, a university professor in Paris, Ō Festival will take place between September 14 and October 14 inside the museum itself, whereas events at the former Planetarium will take place every Sunday morning between October 21 and December 16.
Among the performers will be British rocker Anna Calvi, electronica-maestro Seth Troxler, Argentian coreographer Ayelen Parolin, Syrian singer Omar Souleyman as well as Italian artists like Istituto Nazionale di Cumbia, Alessandro Cortini or Francesco Libetta.

Ō Festival’s complete list of events is available on the festival’s official site (in English).

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