Over the course of a decade, the Festival del Sole has become one of the valley’s annual summertime treats, combining classical, opera, dance and theater performances with memorable meals, yoga classes and other activities.
This year’s festival runs from July 17-26, and while some of the festival’s events are sold out, some seats are still available, with affordable options for most.
Highlights this year include the Dance Gala with principal dancers from the San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Royal Ballet and Les Ballets Trockadero.
The 2015 festival also offers a free film screening series, on Monday, July 20, through Wednesday, July 22, at 500 First Street (formerly Copia), and a theater performance featuring the Los Angles improvisation company, Impro Theatre, for “Pinot Noir UnScripted,” which promises to unearth “the dark, seedy underbelly of the Napa Valley.”
On the eve of this 10th landmark season, the Register asked festival manager Sonia Tolbert to provide 10 facts that highlight the festival and might be surprising to the Napa Valley community. Below are her thoughts.
— The festival is deeply rooted in Napa Valley.
“From the very first year, Festival del Sole has been a homegrown affair with the likes of Margrit Mondavi, Michael Polenske, Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, Beth Nickel and Larry Maguire among the founding Napa Valley festival partners. Over the past 10 years, this small group has grown to nearly 150 community partners hosting events at 37 venues throughout Napa Valley, with dozens of the valley chefs and restaurateurs and over 100 wineries participating in Festival del Sole’s 10th landmark season. It’s really this local community support that has helped Festival del Sole grow into the community-wide celebration it has become.
“Also, the festival is staffed locally, with Napa offices open year-round, providing not only insight for the community benefits (but) jobs for local talent.”
— It’s committed to bringing arts to all.
“Creativity and the arts are critical to a child’s overall social, emotional and educational development as evidenced by a broad scope of studies. Festival del Sole supports Napa County public school arts education initiatives as well as providing scholarships for Napa Valley Youth Symphony students. Through the Wish List program, now in its third year, the festival provides critical funding to Napa Valley visual and performing arts teachers for classroom materials and resources. Last year, Festival del Sole was able to fulfill every wish submitted – a total of $56,000 – by elementary school educators. This year, Festival del Sole will be funding middle and high school public school arts programs. Giving back has always been a main focus of the festival. The festival also provides hundreds of students with complimentary tickets for a number of shows.”
— It inspires local talent.
“In 2007, 12-year old Daniel Cho was close to giving up the violin. Then his mom bought him a ticket to the Joshua Bell performance at Castello di Amoroso and reinvigorated Daniel, who rededicated himself to practicing and studying. Last year Daniel was a festival intern and now is a conservatory level music student on his was way to becoming a professional musician if he so chooses.
— You can watch the world’s biggest stars for less than $50.
“In contrast to many Bay Area concerts and shows that often top $100 and above, Festival del Sole concert passes start at just $49. It’s an extraordinary value. But even better than that, local residents have their choice of seven free events, making one in every five performance seats free (more than 2,600 in total).
— It brings the musical world to the Napa Valley.
“For the past 10 years, for 10 days in July, the Napa Valley becomes the site for many of the most talented and sought after performers in the world, including standouts in the fields of classical music, opera, theater, dance and more. For 2015, there are over 150 musicians and performers bringing their talents to the valley. It’s all right here, no driving to the city, traffic hassles, bridge tolls and exorbitant parking fees.”
— It’s a place to see future stars
“In its history, Festival del Sole has showcased dozens of the artistic stars of the future through the Bouchaine Young Artist Series. Audiences have enjoyed the likes of Conrad Tao, Julia Bullock, Stephen Waarts, Alexi Kenney, Sphinx Virtuosi, and Xavier Foley among others, many who have gone on to win major competitions and become established and successful musicians. It’s a chance to catch them before they are household names. The festival, along with Bouchaine Vineyards’ proprietors Gerret and Tatiana Copeland, will continue to emphasize these young performers, so valley residents can enjoy the stars of the future.
— Bring the whole family.
“Youth and their families can find enjoyment, encouragement and inspiration by attending the festival’s many family friendly events. Of particular interest, would be the annual community concert, Bouchaine Young Artists Concerts and the inspiring film series. All of these performances and screenings are offered for free, ensuring those interested in learning more about these art forms have the ability to do so.”
— There’s mini food & wine festival within
“Staging a festival in the country’s epicenter of wine and cuisine allows Festival del Sole to showcase the valley’s extraordinary food and wine. The grand event Taste of Napa on Saturday, July 18, beginning at 11 a.m. at 500 First Street (formerly Copia) features 80 wineries, restaurants, craft breweries and artisanal food producers Attendees can check out top chefs from Napa and San Francisco as they battle it out in the “Town & Country Cookoff,” and the Reserve Tasting Lounge offers the chance to taste some of the valley’s most sought-after after wines. General admission passes for Taste of Napa are $75 per person.”
— It’s not too late for you to experience Festival del Sole.
“There are still terrific and affordable seats for world-class performances and events over the 10-day festival. For tickets and information, visit FestivalDelSole.org.