Art and culture and free time
For many centuries, at least until our time, Montepulciano has been the cultural centre of major importance of the western Valdchiana . The theatrical activity is documented up until the end of the second half of the 15th century: existed at that time an Academy (called the Raggirati) and was often requested by the Municipality to provide various functions and support of. Performances. At this Academy the 'Intrigati' was performed (from1706),
only recently has it died out, from that, was born a literary Academy, that soon developed an intense theatrical activity, the first theatre was constructed in a space in the Town Hall (1761): this revealed inadequate and was demolished, then came the construction of the Theatre Poliziano a more appropriate seat (1793), the construction was completed in 1881 and opened in the spring of the following year.
The Theatre Poliziano remained the property of the Academy until 1978 when it passed to the Municipality, having been restored to make it compatible with legal requirements, hosting a winter theatrical season, some of the summer performances of the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte and has been used for varied events (conventions etc.). The Municipal Library boasts a base of 12,000 antique books and around 18,000 modern ones. Its original nucleus being made up of the Library of the Jesuit College that existed in the city, suppressed, together with the order in 1773, as well as books from other convents that were suppressed, and from bequests and purchases. At present it is a Library of study and research being used, above all by numerous students from the middle and superior schools in the city as well as university students as a support frame for their bibliography research.
Montepulciano also boasts a valuable Civic Museum: the exhibitions are principally made up of the painting collection of Primicerio Francesca Crociani, who left it to the city in 1861 and who helped to look after many of the paintings that were suppressed by the convents, as well, there is an interesting archaeological section collected from Etruscan tombs from the 6th to 5th centuries B.C., a Roman section, that came from the hamlet of Acquaviva (that was perhaps in Roman times an important station along the consular road that passed through the Valdichiana) and another Etruscan section of value, making the museum very complex with its time span, that goes from ancient times to the 19th century, and its variety of pictorial art: the likes of which have no parallel in the other museums in the area.
The most important culture activities of Montepulciano are in the musical and theatrical areas. The principal is the Cantiere Internazionale d'Arte a gathering that takes place in summer; the shows and concerts that make up the programme are patiently put together in the months that proceed the official opening, often items are specially written for the festival. The idea was that of Maestro Hans Werner Henze who was also the Artistic Director of many editions (the first in 1976). This had a re-launch in 1999 under the Artistic Direction of the young Maestro Enrique Mazzola with the organisation of the Association of Montepulciano.
Tightly tied to the Cantiere and the Music Institute was born the Cappella di Palazzo (a choir) in the 18th century, that has always had an important role in promoting and expanding music: after a slow decline in the 50's, it is now well known, thanks to the personal involvement of Maestro Henze and the stimulus he gave to the Cantiere.
Worthy of mentioning is the Poliziano Bruscello, a particular type of play performed in the open that married the antique farming traditions with the world of opera: the Bruscello in fact was a monodic song of lines, in which the singers narrated epic events or mythology on the threshing floors after the harvesting. The Poliziano Bruscello, was originally invented at the end of the 30's, being tremendously successful between the 50's and 60's, revising antique themes and medieval events tied to the history of the territory, representing it in rich costumes in the Cathedral square together with the performers: singers, each one of which has his characteristic melody: the play, performed in mid August, still today attracts a large public. The actors are not professionals, but simple citizens, who prepare this long undertaking during the winter months.