Macerata Opera Festival 2023

16 February 2023

The myth of seduction: from the fragility of Lucia di Lammermoor to the obstinacy of Carmen and Violetta

Lucia di Lammermoor, a rare gem for the Sferisterio, alongside its most famous production, La traviata, and the most performed title in the world, Carmen, make up the upcoming opera festival.

New additions to the festival will be dancing and cinema around the eternal myth of the cigar maker, Verdi’s Requiem Mass with Teatro Comunale of Bologna, and the show “Don Juan”, which was awarded the “Danza&Danza”award.

Seduction and its many facets are the underlying theme of the artistic proposal of the Macerata Opera Festival 2023, presented by Superintendent Flavio Cavalli and Artistic Director Paolo Pinamonti, which will take place at the Sferisterio from July 20 to August 19: five weekends of opera, literature, cinema, and music. From the fragility of Lucia di Lammermoor – who has been forced into marriage and pushed to make an extreme gesture – to the eternal myth of Carmen, who was killed due to her choices, and Violetta Valèry’s fevered desire for life, who gives up the man she loves for the sake of love and who, for almost two centuries, goes against all social conventions.

The Mayor of Macerata Sandro Parcaroli announced: “We are pleased and honored to present the full program of the 2023 Macerata Opera Festival, after some previews were released in the city and promotional materials were designed specifically for the BIT (an international travel fair held in Milan). This is the result of the hard and constant work of the Arena Sferisterio Association, its new superintendent, Flavio Cavalli, and the commitment of its artistic director, Paolo Pinamonti, with the aim of creating a 59th Festival edition which will feature international artists and excellent shows, and which will bring to Macerata opera enthusiasts from all over the world.”

Chiara Biondi, the Councilor for Culture of the Marche Region, highlighted: “The Sferisterio plays a major strategic role in the region. Once again, we will strongly support the festival as part of our cultural program, which is aimed at promoting our region at its best thanks to the excellent quality of its events and following the successful results achieved last year.”

Flavio Cavalli, Superintendent of the Arena Sferisterio Association: “I would like to thank Macerata, the governance bodies, the sponsors, all collaborators and employees for their warm welcome”. He continued: “I firmly believe that ensuring the economic sustainability of the festival is a major priority. For this reason, I worked in close collaboration with the artistic director in a spirit of full cooperation to increase our credibility and enhance the importance of the Sferisterio, where over 400 people work in the summer: one of the best economic assets in the area.”

Here is the full program of the upcoming festival. The Sferisterio Arena – built in Macerata in the first half of the 19th century to host the game with ball and bangle and then turned into a venue for opera performances not to be missed in the summer by all opera lovers – will host a new production of Carmen by Georges Bizet (July 20, 23, 28, August 6) directed by Daniele Menghini; on the podium, the musical director of the festival, Donato Renzetti. The second title will be the most iconic production of Sferisterio, Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata by (July 22, 30, August 5, 13) by Josef Svoboda and Henning Brockhaus. On the podium, Domenico Longo. The third title will be a new production of Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti (August 12, 14, 17, 19) entrusted to Jean-Louis Grinda with Francesco Ivan Ciampa on the podium.

A “festival within the festival” will be also designed around the myth of the Sevillian cigar-maker, the protagonist of Prosper Mérimée’s novel. In addition to Bizet’s opera, there will be two other unmissable events. First, the legendary flamenco show Carmen (August 4) created in 1983 by Antonio Gades and Carlos Saura and performed by the Compañía Antonio Gades. Then, two milestones of silent cinema: Carmen by Cecil B. DeMille and A Burlesque on Carmen by Charlie Chaplin (August 11), with live soundtracks and Timothy Brock on the podium. Also, there will be an event dedicated to Carmen, Carmen MOF – My Original Feelings, for secondary high schools; it is organized by the theatrical company “Fabiano Valenti” of Treia and designed by Francesco Facciolli and Fabio Macedoni (Lauro Rossi Theatre, May 25-26).

Don Giovanni, a character created in the seventeenth century by Tirso de Molina and then the subject of many adaptations over the centuries, is also linked to the myth of seduction and has inspired the dance show Don Juan (July 27) by choreographer Johan Inger (which was awarded the “Danza&Danza” award in 2020). The show is a co-production by the Arena Sferisterio Association with the National Dance Foundation / Aterballetto and a large group of other theatrical institutions.

The 2023 festival will also feature a symphonic concert, the masterpiece of sacred music by Giuseppe Verdi, the Requiem Mass (July 29). It is a co-production with the Fondazione Teatro Comunale di Bologna, which will also propose the same piece in Bologna (August 2, Piazza Maggiore) for the celebrations in memory of the massacre at Bologna Central Station. On the podium, Donato Renzetti, who will conduct the Bologna orchestra and choir as well as a quartet of vocal soloists: Eleonora Buratto, Clémentine Margaine, Antonio Poli and Roberto Tagliavini.

The musical director Donato Renzetti emphasized: “I am here because Macerata is home to me”. He continued: “And because I feel the affection of the people. I am sure I can work very well together with experienced artists and talented young people on a valuable program which has been designed by artistic director Pinamonti. This year, I will work not only with the usual festival artistic groups, such as FORM and the Bellini chorus, but also with other prestigious performers, such as the ones from the Bologna Municipal Theater.”

“Carmen, Violetta, and Lucia – as described by artistic director Paolo Pinamonti – are the three female protagonists of the upcoming festival: the first two titles are very well-known to the audience, while the third one has been less frequently staged in Macerata (it is absent since 2003) but I am sure Lucia will conquer the hearts of opera lovers with her poignant singing. Speaking of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor (August 12, 14, 17, and 19), the latest title in chronological order, it is a major co-production with the Chorégies d’Orange, a French city which is famous for its imposing Roman theater. Moreover, it hosts every summer a very similar opera festival, especially for the monumental venue where the performances are staged. The cast features internationally renowned bel canto singers, such as Ruth Iniesta (Lucia), Dmitry Korchak (Edgardo), and Davide Luciano (Enrico). On the podium, Francesco Ivan Ciampa (who gave the audience an unforgettable experience in 2019 thanks to his masterful reading of Macbeth). The director is Jean-Louis Grinda, who designed an evocative show inspired by the traditional romantic Scottish setting of this melodrama. The most performed opera in the world, Georges Bizet’s Carmen, returns to the Sferisterio (July 20, 23, and 28, August 6) in a new staging by Daniele Menghini; the set and costume design are by Davide Signorini and Nika Campisi (following their success with Barbiere di Siviglia last summer). This new creative team is designing a setting inspired by the most traditional symbols of Spanish culture and which will transform the Sferisterio arena into a huge Plaza de Toros to create a unique space thanks to its famous background wall. The intense mezzo-soprano Ketevan Kemoklidze will play Carmen, with talented up-and-coming tenor Ragaa Eldin as Don José. Completing the cast, Roberta Mantegna (Micaëla) and Fabrizio Beggi (Escamillo). Violetta will be returning to the Sferisterio stage with the most representative and iconic production of the last thirty years (and which is, predictably, the bestselling title for international groups), La traviata “of the mirrors” conceived in 1992 by Josef Svoboda and Henning Brockhaus, and costume design by Giancarlo Colis (July 22 and 30, August 5 and 13). In the title role, soprano Nino Machaidze, one of today’s most appreciated performers. The cast also includes Anthony Ciaramitaro (Alfredo), a young up-and-coming tenor who is receiving high acclaim all over the world, and Roberto de Candia (Giorgio Germont). On the podium, Domenico Longo.

As always, the FORM-Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana will play for all performances (this year, it will also perform in the two dance shows and in the live performance of the soundtracks of the films dedicated to Carmen) together with Coro Lirico Marchigiano “Vincenzo Bellini” (which will also perform in the Carmen ballet) conducted by Martino Faggiani, Banda Salvadei and the Pueri Cantores “D. Zamberletti” choir conducted by Gianluca Paolucci, which will perform in Carmen.

Tickets will be on sale from Wednesday, March 1st.


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