VERMIGLIO, Italy, Jan 9 (Reuters) - The performers are cool - well cold, really. And the audience is clapping - in part to keep warm. This is music in an igloo played on instruments made of ice.
More than 60 concerts have been organised throughout the winter for the Ice Music Festival some 2,600 metres (8,530 feet) up in Vermiglio on the Passo Tonale in northern Italy.
A 200-seater theatre-igloo has been carved from the ice for audiences willing to brave the freezing temperatures or bring up blankets and cushions on the ski lift.
It is a test for the musicians too, as they play percussion with their gloves on and see their breath freeze on their violins, cellos and guitars.
“It is quite a challenge. You need to be flexible and to have a desire to try something extreme ... He cannot come here thinking to be in a traditional theatre,” festival artistic director Corrado Bungaro said.
Festival founder Tim Linhart, an American artist who has honed his skill making instruments from ice over 10 years after making his first 3-metre high double bass, explained the perils of using frozen water rather than wood.
“I tightened the wires and ... boom ... it (the bass) blew up and fell to the ground,” he said.
“That was the biggest problem, (the fact) that the ice is very fragile and sensitive to the pressure of the strings. So, you have to get right near the edge of where it is going to blow up to get the sound.” (Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Alison Williams; Editing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)