Macerata Opera Festival 2021

25 August 2021

100×100 Sferisterio:
the Festival celebrating 100 years of opera at the Sferisterio closes with great results in terms of audience, critics, participation, public safety and employment.

Almost 22,000 participants to 115 shows.
Over 550 people employed, from artists and musicians to technicians. 
115 events in 33 venues for the 2021 edition of the Macerata Opera Festival, named 100×100 Sferisterio to celebrate 100 years of opera at the Sferisterio. More than 550 people were engaged, including artists, technicians and many other professionals. On the whole, the shows were attended by almost 22,000 people.

It all started in May with the educational activities for children and families, brought on the Sferisterio stage for the very first time. The Festival programme also featured a new production of Aida and a renewed version of Traviata, both staged from 23 July to 13 August, for 22 days that have seen artists and audiences engaged at their best in a range of activities, from operas to crossover shows, meetings, exhibitions, labs for children, Palco Reverse, InclusivOpera and an all-new series of events named “Aspettando la Notte dell’Opera” (waiting for the opera night).

“These figures exceeded our expectation and they bear witness to the great work we did, prior to the beginning of this season”, says Sandro Parcaroli, Chairman of the Associazione Arena Sferisterio and Mayor of Macerata. “The Sferisterio is a true identity mark that could become a national – and international – landmark for cultural activities in our region. It is a unique place, much beloved and cherished, it is inspiring and a sparkle for new projects.”

 This special edition of the Macerata Opera Festival was designed by General Manager Luciano Messi, Artistic Director Barbara Minghetti and Music Director Francesco Lanzillotta, to celebrate 100 years since the first opera performance at the Sferisterio, which took place in the summer of 1921. Alongside the two major opera titles (Aida and Traviata), a number of stars from the ballet world (from Svetlana Zakharova to Martina Arduino), from theatre, pop and jazz music (Bollani, Brachetti, Marcorè), but also new shows designed especially for this year’s festival (Black Aida) and the traditional Palco Reverse performances. On top of all this, workshops, accessible events and tours (with the InclusivOpera programme), meetings, talks and exhibitions like ManiFestival, a visual reconstruction of the opera festival and its early days through its posters, but also through the photos from the Balelli Archive. Related events included the exhibition named The Flying Dutchman by Fabrizio Cotognini, at the Palazzo Buonaccorsi museum, or the retrospective dedicated to set designer Dante Ferretti, on display at Palazzo Ricci. On the occasion of the celebrations for 100 years of opera, the Sferisterio foyer was dedicated to Carlo Pierucci.

As for video coverage, Aida was broadcast live on RAI Radio 3 and on the EuroRadio circuit on its premiere. Rai5 also showcased it during its “Prima della prima” programme, and both operas (Aida and Traviata) are now available for streaming on CueTV. A video recording of Silvia Colasanti’s performance titled D’un immortale amore is available online as part of the “Estate all’Italiana” programme, designed by ItaliaFestival with the support of the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Great results were scored by our ticket office this year, to confirm the successful choices made by managers and directors: from the Macerata Opera Family events in May, up until the end of the Festival on 13 August, 18,730 tickets were sold, whereas 3,192 people participated in the free events, for an overall 21,922 spectators. Last year, 10,000 people attended the first edition of our festival with Covid restrictions, whereas in 2019 we had 37,000 spectators. The management did not quite expect such outstanding figures, especially considering the Covid restrictions. Yet, these figures are proof of the right choices made by Associazione Arena Sferisterio for its programme, with a success that extends well beyond national borders. The Festival also witnessed the enforcement of the Digital Covid Certificate to attend all live events right during its programme, on 6 August. Nonetheless, both the Festival staff and the audience were extremely collaborative on this front.

These figures are the result of the restless work of more than 550 people, including the artists, technicians, security and staff members, and many more. All of them have been engaged since 14 June, to give life to a cultural “army” aiming to turn Macerata in one of the music capitals of 2021, for children, newbies and opera lovers, music professionals, journalists and many more people who were just curious.

Amongst them, 372 people were part of the essential crew of the Macerata Opera Festival: administrative staff, press office, marketing and communication, production, stage direction, artistic secretaries and staff, accessibility operators, members of the orchestra and the choir, stage extras, ushers, etc. All these people deserve special thanks for making the Macerata Opera Festival happen despite the Covid pandemic (5,000 Covid tests were administered during the Festival), with 85% of the overall budget (which amounted to 3.5 million euros this year) spent for contracts, for an overall 15,000 paid working days.

The town of Macerata was a real protagonist this year, especially on the seven events prior to the Opera Night (Aspettando la Notte dell’Opera). Streets and shops were decorated in gold, this year’s colour theme, with a range of exotic elements. Confcommercio and Banco Marchigiano gave their support to the competition leading to the selection of the artistic projects featured in the Opera Night, along with the University of Macerata and the Fine Arts Academy of Macerata.

A series of events, concerts, shows, conversations for children and adults spread beyond the town wall to reach the sea and the mountains, in collaboration with the municipalities of Monte San Giusto, Pollenza, Sarnano, Urbisaglia and Valfornace. The Festival was also the occasion to host the first face-to-face meeting of Opera Europa, the European association of opera theatres and Festivals, with two main events that focused on artistic administration and production.

The Macerata Opera Festival is closely connected to its sponsors, the main one being Banco Marchigiano, along with the Cento Mecenati (one hundred patrons) who donate to the theatre organization just like the Cento Consorti (one hundred comrades) did in the past, to have the Sferisterio built in the early 19th century. In 2021, the Festival acquired 18 new patrons, whereas 82 confirmed from last year. “This season strengthened the bond between the Macerata Opera Festival and our bank, Banco Marchigiano – said CEO Marco Moreschi – this strong relationship is based on the very area we both live in and relate to. Families and companies, children and adults, opera lovers and newcomers: all of them with a great love for art and music. Our members especially appreciated the special evenings dedicated to them, which leads us to renew our collaboration along the lines we have already designed together”.

 Special thanks to Croce Rossa Italiana (the Macerata branch), our charity partner for this year’s edition of the Festival that was celebrated with a special show on 10 August. Croce Rossa supported the Festival with a host of useful services.

In terms of overall press coverage, the 2021 edition of the Festival recorded over 70 printed or web-based newspapers, radios, TVs and specialized press mentions; it was on the RAI national news reports several times and it was constantly mentioned by the TGR RAI in the Marche region as well as other regional TV stations. Uno Weekend (Rai 1), Rai News, TG5 and Studio Aperto (Italia 1) also provided coverage for the Festival. This year’s edition also saw foreign journalists back in Macerata, after last year’s pause: from Spain (Ritmo and Ópera Actual), France (Opéra Magazine), Austria and Germany (Neue Merker and Oper!), the United Kingdom (Opera Now) and the USA (Opera Today).

In terms of social media coverage, posts on Facebook and Instagram were seen and liked by almost one million people during the Festival, the videos (Opera iPad and others) had almost 50,000 visualizations and the Festival website had over 65,000 visits.


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