On 15 September 1986, six painted trams paraded down Swanston Street and the first Spoleto Melbourne Festival was launched.
Later that evening, audiences could see the Victoria State Opera production of Madam Butterfly directed by Ken Russell in the State Theatre and, in the Athenaeum, the Washington Opera Company performed Gian Carlo Menotti’s productions of The Medium and The Telephone.
From Melbourne Spoleto: a Festival of Three Worlds through varying title changes including its most enduring as the Melbourne International Arts Festival to its current moniker Melbourne Festival, like its name, the Festival has evolved over time.
A series of three forums will focus on thirty years of Melbourne Festival in reference to three defining questions: What does it mean to be a festival of Melbourne? An international festival? And an arts festival?
Josephine Ridge, Artistic Director (2013—2015) will introduce each panel and, within the broader themes, the Festival’s curatorial history will be represented by previous Artistic Directors: Robyn Archer AO, Sir Jonathan Mills AO and Brett Sheehy AO. They will be joined by other artistic and city leaders.