The first Classical Theater Festival in Mérida was celebrated in 1933 with a performance of Seneca’s Medea, starring Margarita Xirgú and using the script of Miguel de Unamuno. The festival was an immediate success, but just after one more year of celebrating it, the festival was suspended until 1953 because of the political tensions in Spain that came from the Guerra Civil in the beginning of the Franco dictatorship. The original festival did not use professional actors, but it returned in 1954 with a performance of Sophocles’ Oedipus, starring Francisco Rabal. From then on, the festival has continued uninterrupted, and it has been recognized as the most important and the oldest event in its category, as well as a standing international benchmark.
The Classical Theater Festival in Mérida takes place during the months of July and August and boasts the use of the breathtaking stage of the Teatro Romano de Mérida, which is very much in keeping with the festival’s theme. The stage is thus transformed into one of the main attractions of the festival. It also helps that it is the oldest working stage in the world.
From its beginning, the festival has given opportunities to various generations of actors and directors who are famous nationally or internationally. The performances are always Classic, Greco–Roman, and they draw tens of thousands of audience members who eagerly fill the theatre’s seats each year.
A whole series of events take place in the festival in addition to the performances, and they also celebrate a classical Greco-Roman theme. Conferences, expositions, musical events, and parades also attract visitors to this festival in Mérida during the summer months.
In recent years, the Classical Theater Festival of Mérida has spread beyond the confines of the capital to include performances in the theaters in Medellín (Badajoz), Regina (Casas de Reina), Cáparra (Cáceres), and Tarragona.
The Classical Theater Festival of Mérida is a call to the lovers of culture and the scenic arts of the Greco-Roman period that cannot be resisted. One cannot pass up this theatrical event that is considered to be the most important in Spain. If you are interested in attending, click here to see the full schedule.
Main Image: Xabier Alcorta Beguiristain