The ROF2014 performances of Il Barbiere di Siviglia will be on the WDAV network’s World of Opera Series followed by Armida in mid-November. You will get another chance to hear Armida along with an intermission feature from ROF at the end of November via the WFTM network. More information as it becomes available at Forum Rossiniano on this site.
Special offer from ROF and the American Friends of ROF.
Listeners who would like an electronic copy of the program book for Armida from last summer’s Festival, are encouraged to email
email@example.com with the subject line “Armida” and you will receive the program.
We are thrilled to have the following contribution from one of our members. Actually Charles Jernigan’s connection with the ROF predates the establishment of the American Friends of the Rossini Opera Festival.
Professor Jernigan has kindly offered to share his experiences and we look forward to hearing more from him on a (hopefully) continuing basis.
Thirty Years (almost) with Rossini at ROF.
Next year will be the thirtieth anniversary of my first time at the Rossini Opera Festival in Pesaro. My first experience with ROF came in August, 1985. I had heard of the Festival only a year or so earlier, and when my wife and I had a few days before school was to start in my new job directing the California State University’s study abroad program in Florence, we naively took the train over to Pesaro, without opera tickets or a hotel room. It was a sweltering August in a crowded beach resort, but we found a room in a cheap hotel near the train station and only a block from the Teatro Rossini, and we managed to get two tickets from partial view seats in the top row of boxes, almost directly above the stage, for that night’s opera. In the theater, everyone was sweating profusely and we had to lean over the box railing to see the whole stage; the opera was one that even a dedicated Rossinian like myself had never heard before, much less seen.
The opera was Maometto II, and that performance was one of the greatest opera-going experiences of my life. The singing from the whole cast–Samuel Ramey, Lucia Valentini-Terrani, Cecelia Gasdia, Chris Merritt, and William Matteuzzi–was beyond anything I had ever heard, and everyone acted too! Ramey, in an unforgettable stage moment, ran barefoot up a group of hunched-over ‘slaves‘ to sing his cabaletta “Duce di tanti eroi,” standing on the shoulders of a–literal–underling. And he stayed there to repeat it! It was one of the most exciting things I have ever seen or heard in the theater, and it convinced me then and there that Stendhal was right: Rossini is the greatest opera composer. Maometto revealed itself as a masterpiece, a judgement confirmed in several subsequent productions over the years.
After that, I returned to Pesaro every summer that I was able to go, as great work after great work was uncovered by the musicologists, singers and stage directors. Operas which had just been titles in a book became real and wonderful works by a composer who, in Alberto Zedda’s words, “doesn’t know how to be mediocre.” Of course there have been many great moments since then like the unexpected debut of the totally unknown Juan Diego Florez in Matilda di Shabran, for me a scarcely explored title in a book before he sang it in 1996. And there have been so many great singers over the years, from the spectacular Marilyn Horne in the early years to Joyce DiDonato’s Cenerentola to Olga Peretyatko more recently, and so many others. Anyone who loves great singing cannot afford to stay away from Pesaro!
And if the August afternoons and evenings in Pesaro are filled with great music, the little town on the Adriatic is itself a wonderful place to visit. All year long my friends and I dream of those sea bass (branzino) splayed out on a white plate dusted with breadcrumbs in the Pesaro style, accompanied by a frosty glass of bianchello del Metauro, the local white wine. And there’s the turquoise blue of the Adriatic as well. Rossini had the good sense to be born in Pesaro, and in 2014 it is good to know that the tradition of restoring and playing his music comes alive there every year.
In recent years I have taken to writing essay-reviews of opera performances, and my reviews of this year’s Pesaro performances can be found at Jernigan’s Opera Journal, www.operapronto.info/journal.html.
This year’s Festival concluded with a performance of Aureliano in Palmira
with Jessica Pratt and Michael Spyres in the leading roles.
Here is a sample of what went on behind the scenes in preparation for the first-ever performance of the critical edition.
Usually Rossini lovers experience a “low” after the Festival concludes. It’s a long wait until the next Festival.
This year, however, there is great news!
The sparklingly delightful L’Italiana in Algeri from ROF 2013 is going to be available on DVD at the end of August!
This over-the-top production by Davide Livermore features Anna Goryachova, Alex Esposito, Yijie Shi, and Mario Cassi, among others.
AURELIANO IN PALMIRA
Dramma serio per musica di Giuseppe Felice Romani
Edizione critica Fondazione Rossini/Casa Ricordi, a cura di Will Crutchfield
Direttore WILL CRUTCHFIELD
Regia MARIO MARTONE
Scene SERGIO TRAMONTI
Costumi URSULA PATZAK
Progetto luci PASQUALE MARI
Aureliano MICHAEL SPYRES
Zenobia JESSICA PRATT
Arsace LENA BELKINA
Publia RAFFAELLA LUPINACCI
Oraspe DEMPSEY RIVERA
Licinio SERGIO VITALE
Gran sacerdote DIMITRI PKHALADZE
CORO DEL TEATRO COMUNALE DI BOLOGNA
Maestro del Coro ANDREA FAIDUTTI
ORCHESTRA SINFONICA G. ROSSINI
IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA
Commedia di Cesare Sterbini
Edizione critica Fondazione Rossini/Casa Ricordi, a cura di Alberto Zedda
Direttore GIACOMO SAGRIPANTI
Ideazione, progettazione, elementi scenici, movimenti di regia, video e costumi ACCADEMIA DI BELLE ARTI DI URBINO
Il Conte d’Almaviva JUAN FRANCISCO GATELL
Bartolo PAOLO BORDOGNA
Rosina CHIARA AMARÙ
Figaro FLORIAN SEMPEY
Basilio ALEX ESPOSITO
Berta FELICIA BONGIOVANNI
Fiorello / Ufficiale ANDREA VINCENZO BONSIGNORE
Ambrogio ALBERTO PANCRAZI
CORO SAN CARLO DI PESARO
Maestro del Coro SALVATORE FRANCAVILLA
ORCHESTRA DEL TEATRO COMUNALE DI BOLOGNA
Esecuzione in forma semiscenica
In addition to Paolo Bordogna ( class of 1998 ) who will be Bartolo in Il Barbiere di Siviglia, three members of the 2013 class of the Accademia Rossiniana are back at ROF 2014. This time they will be performing in the Festival’s principal operas. Vassilis Kavayas will take on the role of Eustazio in Armida. Fellow graduates Dempsey C’Rivera, Sergio Vitale, and Dimitri Phkaladze will appear in Aureliano in Palmyra as Oraspe, Licinio, and the Gran Sacerdote. The Accademia continues to nuture young singers well!
The ROF’s Academia Rossiniana – a two week total immersion in Rossini singing – concluded on the 18th of July with a concert in the Teatro Sperimentale in Pesaro. The school has students selected from around the world studying under the direction of Alberto Zedda with the participation of the head of ROF, Gianfranco Marioti, as well as some of the stage directors and artists involved in this season’s operas.
This year, one of the highlights was a master class given by Juan Diego Florez.
Selected graduates will appear in two performances of Il Viaggio in Reims in the Teatro Rossini on August 13th and 16th.
Read the full release at the Rossini Opera Festival website.
Americans have been part of the fabric of the Rossini Opera Festival from the beginning. Artists such as Samuel Ramey, Marilyn Horne, June Anderson, Chris Merritt, Rockwell Blake, Renee Fleming, and Bruce Ford are some of the best known. In recent years Joyce DiDonato, Lawrence Brownlee, Jennifer Larmore, and Amanda Forsythe have brought their talents to Pesaro.
This year, Americans Micheal Spyres and Will Crutchfield will be part of Aureliano in Palmyra in its first performances based on the recently completed critical edition. Spyres and Crutchfield were part of the team that presented Ciro in Babylonia at ROF 2012. They were joined by Jessica Pratt and Ewa Podles. Pratt will be starring in Aureliano, and Podles will be giving a concert at the Teatro Rossini during the Festival.
The stars always seem to align in Pesaro.