The Cultural Association of the Piccolo Festival of Friuli Venezia Giulia was founded on December 10, 2007 by a group of five musicians. Its mission is to create new audiences and new professional musicians. The first event organised by the new association was a memorable opera concert to celebrate the fifty-year artistic careers of two great basses from Friuli, Bonaldo Giaoitti and Alfredo Mariotti, on December 21 of that year.
The first edition of the Piccolo Festival was a mixed program of music, prose, dance and cinema and took place from July 6-12, 2008 in four municipalities in the province of Udine (Reana del Ro-jale, Tricesimo, Tarcento and Magnano in Riviera). The main performance was the staging of the children's opera "A Fairy Tale by Chance" at the Garzoni Theatre in Tricesimo with music by Lucio Gregoretti and Nicola Sani and directed by Ugo Gregoretti.
In later editions the Festival has continued to expand into many other municipalities, and has started to bring some of its performances to particularly prestigious venues. One to remember was the 2010 production of "The Country Philosopher" by Baldassarre Galuppi staged at Villa Deciani in Montegnacco under the direction of Stefano Vizioli and the musical direction of Filippo Maria Bressan. The cast was selected through auditions that led, as has now become tradition in the Festival, to the discovery of new talent who now tread the scenes of the most prestigious Italian and interna-tional theatres.
The first international cooperation was in 2011, with the University of Colorado’s College of Music (USA) which co-produced Gioachino Rossini's opera “La Cambiale di Matrimonio”. A training course for soloists was led by professors from that American university together with great names in Italian opera such as Alessandro Corbelli and Bonaldo Giaiotti. The year 2012 began with a mov-ing concert at the Risiera di San Sabba in cooperation with the Jerusalem Opera, a partnership that continues successfully today and which has allowed for the exchange of ideas, training for young artists, and the artistic cooperation between Friuli Venezia Giulia and Israel. The 2013 edition of the program entitled “SempreVerdi"was particularly rich in its celebration of 200 years since the birth of the great opera composer.
In his honour, Niccolò Piccinni’s "La Cecchina" was staged at the Castle of Spessa, an opera that Verdi called "the first real comic opera". Following the Verdi celebration, there was an important change in the Festival’s programme. There was a decision to focus on vocal, operatic and chamber music and to enter the European music-tourism market. In January, 2015 the Festival participated at the Vienna International Tourism Fair for the first time, presenting the eighth edition with Mozart's "Don Giovanni" performed at the Castle of San Giusto in Trieste and at Villa Manin in Passariano.
Then, the first groups started coming from Austria and, due to the quality of the programme and the performers combined with the beauty of the locations, the following editions have continued to see an increase in groups from Germany, Holland, Luxembourg, France and other countries. “The Barber of Seville" (2016), "La Cenerentola" (2017), "The Marriage of Figaro" (2018) and "L'Elisir d'Amore" (2019) have shown the Festival to be a leading regional summer opera event, an interna-tional event, a cross-border opera festival in the splendid wine-producing area of Collio in Italy and Brda in Slovenia.