From 19 July to 11 August, the Arena Sferisterio pays homage to Giacomo Puccini with Turandot and La bohème. The 60th anniversary of the opera season is celebrated with Norma by Vincenzo Bellini.
Ballet is back this year, with Notte Morricone by Marcos Morau, in collaboration with Fondazione Nazionale della Danza / Aterballetto. The programme also features a gala concert and Carmina Burana.
Artists include Francesco Ivan Ciampa, Fabrizio Maria Carminati, Valerio Galli, sopranos Ruth Iniesta, Roberta Mantegna, Mariangela Sicilia and Marta Torbidoni; tenors Yusif Eyvazov, Antonio Poli and Angelo Villari; baritones Mario Cassi and Lodovico Filippo Ravizza. Stage Directors: Paco Azorín, Maria Mauti and Leo Muscato.
Tickets on sale from 19 December, 2023. At the box office in Macerata and online.
“…there’s a moon and she’s our neighbour here…” these verses from Puccini’s La bohème define the thread running through the programme of the Macerata Opera Festival for 2024, designed by General Manager Flavio Cavalli and the newly-appointed Artistic Director Paolo Gavazzeni. From 19 July to 11 August, Turandot and La bohème by Giacomo Puccini, plus Norma by Vincenzo Bellini, i.e. three masterpieces of the repertoire, will be on stage. Two by the Tuscan composer on the 100th anniversary of his death, and a third one to celebrate the 60th opera season held in Macerata’s iconic monument. It is a not-to-be-missed event of primary importance for the town itself and the whole Marche region.
“We are proud to unveil the 60th season of the Macerata Opera Festival, a great honor for our town, thanks to the great work of General Manager Flavio Cavalli, Artistic Director Paolo Gavazzeni, and the overall organizational structure”, says Sandro Parcaroli, President of the Associazione Arena Sferisterio. “The programme is out in due time, it features prominent opera titles and a number of artists widely acclaimed both nationally and internationally. This season is dedicated to Giacomo Puccini on the 100th anniversary of his death, indeed one of the greatest composers of all times. Besides the great quality of our artistic programme, the Festival is extremely significant for Macerata, a driving force for tourism.”
“Our best wishes for the coming year are offered to the town of Macerata by unveiling the programme for the upcoming Macerata Opera Festival”, says General Manager Flavio Cavalli. “60% of the festival budget comes from public and private funding, and virtually the entire sum is returned to the town, the Province and the overall Region by hiring local professionals and commissioning work to small and medium companies in the area. Moreover, our funding has a multiplying effect (6 to 7 times) for shops and commercial activities in general. Such figures are particularly relevant if we consider that Associazione Arena Sferisterio has recently been involved in the discussion of a potential new law, drafted by Giorgia Latini and Irene Manzi, aiming to provide the Sferisterio with dedicated funding, recognizing it as a national monument. The law is currently being assessed.”
The Moon, that casts her light on the audience inside the Sferisterio, on summer nights, with the amazing acoustics of the venue, is the thread that runs through the verses and the settings of all three operas: a dreamlike Oriental Moon shines on Puccini’s unfinished masterpiece, the same silvery light illuminates the faces of Rodolfo and Mimì, and the Moon is evoked by the priestess in Bellini’s Norma.
As Artistic Director Paolo Gavazzeni says, “Each theatre has its own DNA that needs to be fully understood. My artistic vision, over the past month, has adapted to the shape and history of this place that I have fully immersed in. The Sferisterio arena has such wonderful, natural acoustics that encourages great musical productions that are made for the people. This year we are celebrating two, great anniversaries: the 60th opera season at the Sferisterio and the 100th anniversary of Giacomo Puccini’s death. The great relevance of Puccini’s works has contributed to giving Italian opera singing the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage status. The forthcoming festival has a compact formula, stretching over four weekends with a performance every weekend night, between 19 July and 11 August. Along with Puccini’s operas, the Sferisterio stage will welcome Norma, i.e. the first ever opera that was to be performed in the Sferisterio arena, but never went on stage because of the war. Reviving Bellini’s work this year means wishing the Sferisterio all the best for the years to come. The festival will feature a majority of Italian artists, which I aimed to privilege, whenever possible. I am convinced that if a festival wants to build or strengthen its international image, it has to boost its own identity by relying on local forces.”
Turandot (19 and 28 July, 3 and 10 August)
The opera will be performed in its unfinished version, as the composer left it and as it was first performed at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, with Arturo Toscanini as conductor. The stage director for this cruel and passionate story of love and death, set in Beijing “at the time of fairytales”, is Paco Azorín, who is back at the Sferisterio for this new production after staging Otello in 2016. The opera will be conducted by Francesco Ivan Ciampa, universally acclaimed at the Sferisterio in 2019 for Macbeth. The main artists in this production are Olga Maslova (Turandot), Angelo Villari (Calaf), Ruth Iniesta (Liù), Antonio Di Matteo (Timur), Lodovico Filippo Ravizza (Ping), Paolo Antognetti (Pang) and Francesco Pittari (Pong).
Norma (20 and 26 July, 4 and 9 August)
This great work by Vincenzo Bellini (a.k.a. the swan from Catania) is due to celebrate the 60th opera season at the Sferisterio. It was one of the few operas that were considered to be first staged in the arena, at the beginning of the Twentieth century, and it is revamped this year to celebrate the town of Macerata and the citizens who made every effort to make the Sferisterio an opera venue. This new production is signed by director and documentary producer Maria Mauti, who debuts this year as opera director. A Belcanto expert will conduct the orchestra, i.e. Fabrizio Maria Carminati, who is also artistic director of the Bellini theatre in Catania, Italy. Amongst the soloists, Marta Torbidoni (as Norma), a young soprano born in the Marche region who is making a great international career, but also Roberta Mantegna as Adalgisa. The male roles are taken by Antonio Poli (Pollione) and Riccardo Fassi (Oroveso).
La bohème (27 July, 2, 7 and 11 August)
A second tribute to Puccini comes with the staging of La bohème, in the widely acclaimed production by Leo Muscato, awarded with the Premio Abbiati in 2012 by the Associazione Nazionale Critici Musicali in Italy. Valerio Galli, appreciated especially as a conductor of Puccini’s operas, will lead the orchestra. An outstanding cast will be on stage for La Bohème: Mariangela Sicilia as Mimì, Yusif Eyvazov as Rodolfo, Mario Cassi as Marcello and Daniela Cappiello as Musetta. Puccini thought of this opera as enlivened by young characters, with a lot of emotional and social tensions that are greatly portrayed by Leo Muscato in his production set between the Sixties and Seventies of the Twentieth century in Paris, at a time of great turmoil.
The overall cast for the 2024 edition of the Macerata Opera Festival is composed essentially of Italian artists, both young and more mature. This choice aims to celebrate the recent recognition of Italian opera singing as a Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Ballet and concerts are also featured in this rich programme, which restores the widely appreciated formula of three opera titles over most weekends.
On Sunday, 21 July, a gala concert entitled Notte di Luna closes the weekend of the premieres for the two, new productions, namely Norma and Turandot. Conductor Michelangelo Mazza will lead the orchestra, along with some of the singers involved in the opera productions. He will be joined in this performance by Giovanni Andrea Zanon, one of the most popular and appreciated violinists worldwide.
On Thursday, 8 August, Carmina Burana by Carl Orff will be on stage, conducted by Andrea Battistoni, with Giuliana Gianfaldoni (soprano), Alasdair Kent (tenor) and Mario Cassi (baritone). This cantata of medieval inspiration, written in Latin verses, was composed in the 1930s and has since been one of the most successful works of the past century, often quoted in cinema, advertising and other media.
Ballet is featured in the Sferisterio 2024 programme with a new production entitled Notte Morricone (1 August), a collaboration with Fondazione Nazionale della Danza / Aterballetto designed by the well-known Spanish choreographer Marcos Morau, on the music by the great Italian composer.
All the three shows described above are connected to the main theme of the festival, i.e. the presence of the Moon. It is quoted in the Carmina Burana verses, it is evoked in the settings of the gala concert and the ballet, too. Moreover, on 21 July a full moon is expected.
In line with the tradition, the orchestra featured in the festival is the FORM – Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana, and the chorus is the “Vincenzo Bellini”, led by maestro Martino Faggiani. The Pueri Cantores “D. Zamberletti” chorus is led by Gian Luca Paolucci and the season will also feature the Salvadei Brass Band. All these organizations are based in the Region, responding to the goal of employing, first and foremost, artists from the territory.
The offer for schools (“Lo Sferisterio a Scuola”) will be unveiled in the coming weeks and will feature performances for the very young (3 to 5 years), for students of primary and middle schools (6 to 13 years) and for high school students (14 to 18 years). Moreover, Artistic Director Paolo Gavazzeni has given life to a new series of events for audiences of all ages entitled “Tutti all’Opera”, in the form of meetings and performances to be held at Teatro Lauro Rossi in Macerata. These will be integrated with access to stage rehearsals and, for those who purchase the whole programme, special fees to attend performances at the Sferisterio are available.
Tickets are on sale from 19 December 2023, at the Box Office in Piazza Mazzini 10, Macerata, and online on www.sferisterio.it and www.vivaticket.it .
Prices for the three operas (Turandot, Norma, La bohème) range from 15 to 170 euros. For the premieres, the platinum section seats are sold at 200 euros.
The ballet performance Notte Morricone has a price range of 15 to 70 euros.
The two concerts are sold at 20 to 60 euros.
Discounts are available for young audiences (under 30) and senior citizens (over 65). Children and teenagers under 14 years of age pay 1 euro, if their ticket is purchased along with one at full price.
Three types of subscription are available: 1) Open2 allows one to purchase two tickets for two out of the three operas (i.e. one ticket for Turandot + one ticket for Norma or La bohème, for each date) with a 15% discount; 2) Open3 allows one to purchase 3 tickets for all three operas with a 25% discount; 3) Open 6 allows one to purchase 6 tickets for the three operas (two for each performance) with a 30% discount.
The box office in Macerata, piazza Mazzini 10, is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 am to 1 pm and from 4.30 pm to 7.30 pm. Phone: +39 0733 230735. Email: email@example.com
More information is available on the Sferisterio website: www.sferisterio.it
Lyric drama in three acts, libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. It is inspired by the theatrical fable by Carlo Gozzi. Giacomo Puccini left it unfinished when he died on 29 November 1924. It was first performed in its unfinished version at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, on 26 April 1926. Two different endings were composed, the first one by Franco Alfano and the second, more recent one by Luciano Berio. It is inspired by an imaginary Eastern land and it tells the story of the challenge of passion and strength between Calaf and the icy princess Turandot, countered by the pure love of Liù.
Opera in two acts, libretto by Felice Romani. It is inspired by a tragedy written by Louis-Alexandre Soumet (1786-1845) and it was composed by Vincenzo Bellini in 1831, in less than three months. It premiered at Teatro alla Scala on 26 December of the same year and it was a great fiasco, mainly as an opposition to the composer himself and the female protagonist, Giuditta Pasta. Today, it is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Romantic opera. The story, close to the myth of Medea, is centred upon love, jealousy and revenge among betrayed lovers.
Opera in four acts, libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. It is inspired by the novel Scènes de la vie de bohème, written by Henri Murger. It was first performed at Teatro Regio in Torino, on 1 February 1896. It tells the story of a group of young friends living in Paris, torn between dreams of love and a harsh reality. Rodolfo and Mimì’s great love is shattered by poverty and sickness.