The 35th Rossini Opera Festival
by Rino Alessi
The most important opera house in Pesaro was dedicated in 1854 to Rossini, who was born in this town in Marche in 1792. Over the years, Pesaro has become one of the capitals of Italian musical excellence, and Teatro Rossini has become known as the main venue of the Rossini Opera Festival (Rof).
In 1818, Rossini himself conducted in Pesaro his famous opera semiseria, “The Thieving Magpie”, which was presented again during the first Rof in 1980, in a new production by the Rossini Foundation, edited by Alberto Zedda and conducted by Gianandrea Gavazzeni.
The Teatro Rossini has a capacity of 860, with seats arranged in a horseshoe auditorium with four tiers of box seats and a gallery. The earthquake that struck Pesaro and Ancona on October 30, 1930 required about four years of reconditioning: the theater re-opened in August 1934 with Rossini’s last masterpiece, “William Tell”.
Part of the program of the Rossini Opera Festival is now held in the Adriatic Arena – a multipurpose structure built in 1996 for international musical and sports events – and in the Auditorium Pedrotti, founded in 1892 (in particular, this was the venue for one of the 1984 Rof’s top events: a critical edition of “The Journey to Reims” with an unforgettable, stellar cast conducted by Claudio Abbado – to whom the 2014 edition is dedicated – and directed by Luca Ronconi, considered a real innovator at the time).
In 1994, the Rossini Opera Festival Foundation was established to support the festival in highlighting Rossini’s legacy in terms of theater, music, and publications. The Rof is a member of the European Festival Association and is promoted by Comune di Pesaro, Provincia di Pesaro e Urbino, Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Pesaro, Banca Popolare dell’Adriatico, and Fondazione Scavolini. On August 13, 1993, the Italian Parliament unanimously approved a special law on the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities’ support of the festival, identifying the Rof as the authority in recovering and reviving Gioachino Rossini’s works, as an integral part of Italy’s cultural heritage.
The 35th edition’s most resounding success was the classic “The Barber of Seville” in a new critical edition that soared to surprising heights thanks to a fresh mise-en-scène by Urbino’s Fine Arts Academy, young conductor Giacomo Sagripanti, and great chemistry among the cast.
The 2014 Rof recorded impressive figures with 15,250 tickets sold and 946,000 euros made at the box office, allowing general director Gianfranco Mariotti to state, “despite the terrible economic climate around us, we are still some of Europe’s best”. Indeed, 63.5% of the audience came to Pesaro from other countries – France, Germany, and Japan being the top three.
The 2015 edition will present two new productions – “The Lady of the Lake” and “The Newspaper” – as well as a new rendition of “Cyrus in Babylon”. Expectations are high as one of the Rof’s favorites, Juan Diego Flórez, has agreed to return to Pesaro next year.