Classical music, opera, Astor Piazzola, cicadas and crickets
Casa dei Mezzo is definitely the most unexpected festival of Crete in the most unexpected place. Makrigialos, a small fishing village that became overly popular during the 80s (and met the corresponding ‘development’), becomes the most ‘cultural’ destination on the island for a few days every July. Concerts, virtuoso soloists, baritones, sopranos, classical composers, modern pieces, opera and… Astor Piazzola.
All that takes place in the open space of a lovely private house, built on a slope facing the bay of Makrigialos, surrounded by olive groves and the song of cicadas, who come to contribute with their own melodies while the cello, piano, flute and classic guitar bring back to life scores of Bach and Rachmaninoff. This is the atmosphere during the lunchtime concerts. At night, atmospheric lights dress Casa dei Mezzo and concerts start with the moon setting behind the mountains, countless stars and the white river shaped by the Milky Way over the heads of the performers and spectators. And of course, the persistent song of crickets who come to replace tired cicadas!
The man behind this inspired festival is Gunnar Stromsholm, a Norwegian who loves Makrigialos and good music and took this initiative nine years ago, bringing the joy of classical music in this little corner of Crete. Today musicians from all around the world –even from New Zealand- come here to perform without pay, the Norwegian Embassy and the Hellenic Ministry of Culture provide the funds, locals help in the organization with volunteer work, and tourists arrive from everywhere, just to attend this festival!
We went, we heard, we were bewitched. But we were also sad because this year the established lunchtime concert in the ruins of the Venetian villa Dei Mezzo in the deserted village of Etia was cancelled, since for the first time after all these years the Hellenic Ministry of Culture (that is supposed to fund this festival) asked for 2,000 euro rent (!)
However, as our encounters with high quality classical music concerts are rare in Crete, we appreciate this festival with all our heart! If you missed this year’s festival write the next one down in your agenda: our appointment for 2013 is from the 27th of June to the 2nd of July- we’re talking about Scandinavian punctuality!
At first sight Makrigialos gives the impression of typical tourist place with large hotel resorts and aesthetics of a past time. But when you take a closer look and take a walk on the portside with the sandy beach and the fish taverns, you will probably want to book a room for a night or two, just to wake up with the sound of the sea in the morning. Explore the region, discover small and peaceful beaches with crystal clear waters, visit the Monastery of Kapsas, and enjoy the open horizon that reaches the islet of Koufonisi.