2016 - festival open air mozarteum - trancoso - brazil


GringoView: Trancoso Transformed by Music

It was an incredible dream, exactly the kind that often makes surprising things happen in Brazil.

Seven years ago, on one of those beautiful Bahiana early evenings in Trancoso, a small group of friends were having a drink on the terrace of Mozarteum concert series creator Sabine Lovatelli’s vacation home. The group included friends of the Lovatelli’s from Trancoso and São Paulo as well as a visitor from abroad.

The talk was whether it might be possible to create an annual classic music festival in the late summertime, after all the high season Christmas and New Year visitors had departed. “Just imagine” enthused Sabine, “how spectacular it could be to build an outdoor theatre in the canyon where the world’s great musicians could come, give concerts in this perfect setting and bring music to Trancoso.” If the tiny, picturesque Austrian town of Salzburg could host an international music festival, why couldn’t beautiful Trancoso?

The idea – the dream - that such a festival could transform sleepy Trancoso into a truly cultural destination, bringing a whole new type of visitor while materially enhancing the town’s economy during an otherwise very quiet and empty season was as intoxicating as the superb caipirinhas fueling the discussion.

The sobering journey from dream to reality is always a hazardous one. Among the group on Sabine’s terrace was world-renown Luxemburg architect, François Valentiny who had designed a truly breathtaking performance space for the canyon. But as Sabine says: “‘Deus é Brasileiro’ and he protected us from building the theatre in the canyon. The logistics – getting instruments and concert goers to and from the canyon would have been impossibly complicated. It was a dream but a divine providence saw to it that we remained on solid ground with easy access for all.”

Francois went back to the drawing board. The problem, he says, was transforming the “extremely acoustic-friendly situation in the Canyon” to this new space by the side of the golf course, overlooking the sea and to prevent the sound of the ocean competing with the music. The solution is a striking architectural masterpiece: “curved and reflecting surfaces surrounding the orchestra and the audience”. It must be classed as one of Brazil’s finest architectural monuments.

Divine providence certainly received a helping hand from the many wealthy families with elegant homes set back from the beautiful beach or overlooking the golf course, families who shared the desire to contribute to Trancoso and helped make the dream a reality. Thanks to the generous support of the festival by L’Occitane, the theater now carries its name. Other important brands are proud sponsors.

The theater seats one thousand, one hundred concert goers and music lovers fight for the tickets. Originally given free, since last year they have been sold and are now priced between R$ 12.00 and R$120.00. Local residents get a priority but even they must line up to get their tickets.

This year’s week-long festival, the fifth annual ‘Música Em Trancoso´, will open March 5th with a classical jazz concert featuring the American jazz legend Bobby McFerrin and the Orquestra Experimental de Repertório (São Paulo). During the week there will be a wide range of musical offerings including an operetta, an evening of Bossa Nova, a chamber music evening and ending with a ‘Rock Symphony’.

Public performances are the focus of the festival but for some, like Brazilian pianist and arranger, Cesar Camargo Mariano, the “very accessible” many additional musical events in Trancoso are unique. “The Music festival in Trancoso is important not just for its musical quality but also for its parallel events, such as the masterclasses.” He marvels that local children have become interested in watching rehearsals and learning about music.

There is no question that the festival has been a success for Trancoso and that even those local residents most skeptical of the project in the beginning have now become fans.  Some, like Caloca Fernandes, say that the festival has changed little except that its existence and Neojibá youth orchestra have greatly enhanced the local youth interest “in classical music. Now they know who Mozart, Bach and Villa are and want to travel to places where there are orchestral performances.”

Says Sabine: “It is always difficult to create an event and bring many new people to a place without spoiling it. I think that, with the help of the inhabitants of Trancoso and region, we succeeded in realizing a healthy and prosperous change.”

That Música Em Trancoso has now become a vibrant reality along with the 35th year of the Mozarteum concerts, is a tribute to Sabine’s love of music and desire to share it. This was recently recognized in the presentation by the German Consul-General to her of the prestigious ‘Cross of the Order of Merit’ from her native Germany. In accepting it, she reminded the audience of Brazil’s long history of music. “The love of Brazilians for music is great and very old“ and if the existence of Mozarteum and Música Em Trancoso, with their expanding educational programs is contributing to continuing this, she felt very honored.



DATA: 5 a 12 de março de 2016

HORARIO: a partir das 17h / início dos concertos às 18h30

LOCAL: Teatro L’Occitane

ENDERECO: Estrada Municipal de Trancoso, km 19 – Trancoso, Bahia

INGRESSO ANTECIPADO: R$ 120 (por noite); para adquirir, acesse




L'Occitane Theatre was born from the creation of a musical festival and from the generosity and commitment of its founders. Initially designed for the canyon between the cliffs of the coast of Trancoso, it was finally inaugurated in March 2014 as home to Mozarteum Brasileiro’s Festival Musica em Trancoso. Deployed smoothly inside Terravista’s Golf Course, the space has access from the main road linking the cities of Arraial d'Ajuda and Trancoso. The goal was achieved through the design of curved surfaces, reflected around the orchestra and the public. It defines a sculptural monolithic appearance and structure with limited apparent materials of concrete and wood, from the acoustic settings. The Amphitheatre and Facilities buildings are distant, creating an outdoor Foyer as extension of the golf course, offering continuos wide spaces and permeable buildings, framed by a lake and the native vegetation surroundings.



Bauherr | Client: Música em Trancoso Empreendimentos Culturais

Planungsbeginn | Start of planning: 2012
Baubeginn | Start of construction: 2012
Fertigstellung | Completion: 2014
Nutzfläche | Usable floor area: 3.840 m2
Freifläche | Outdoor area: 7.500 m2
Landschaftsplaner | Landscape planner: HVP
Projektleitung | Project management: HVP


photo © Eloi Fromangé-Gonin