Macerata Opera Festival 2020 #biancocoraggio: three weeks of events for the Sferisterio festival

30 May 2020

Two operas and a series of other events, from Palco Reverse to contemporary dance, from mixed concerts featuring Melozzi/Anastasio and Paoli/Rea, to the Montelago Celtic Festival and Simone Cristicchi in a collaboration with Musicultura.

“Bia. Un passo nuovo, una parola propria” by ToTEAM is the project that was awarded the Macerata Opera 4.0 prize for contemporary musical theatre by artists that are under 35.

The Opera Night turns into multiple events and features the projects selected with the support of Banco Marchigiano Credito Cooperativo Italiano, the Municipality of Macerata and Confcommercio Marche Centrali

The 2020 edition of the Macerata Opera Festival, named #biancocoraggio, has been swiftly redesigned. It will be held from 18 July to 9 August and besides two operas it will feature other events like the Palco Reverse shows, mixed concerts and contemporary dance.

The programme, recently approved by the Sferisterio Board of Directors, is based upon three main principles: safety and security of both audience and staff, sustainable and appropriate investments, technical and artistic quality of the overall event.

18 July marks the opening night, with the premiere of Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart conducted by Francesco Lanzillotta.

A warm thank you goes to maestro José Miguel Pérez-Sierra, initially chosen as conductor for this opera, who kindly accepted to leave the podium to the festival’s music director. Pérez-Sierra has been confirmed for the 2021 edition of the festival.

Don Giovanni comes to the Sferisterio in a production designed by world-famous stage director Davide Livermore, recently acclaimed at Teatro alla Scala and in some of the most prominent opera theatres worldwide. The show is co-produced with the French festival Chorégies d’Orange, where it debuted in the summer of 2019.

It will be partly re-designed to fit into the space of the Sferisterio as well as to comply with the most recent safety regulations. The protagonist’s role is taken by Mattia Olivieri, Leporello is played by Tommaso Barea, Donna Anna by Karen Gardeazabal, whereas Donna Elvira and Don Ottavio are played respectively by Valentina Mastrangelo and Giovanni Sala, the two young singers who were artistically adopted by the Macerata Opera Festival three years ago and will be performing on this stage yet again, debuting in these roles. Alessandro Spina plays the Commendatore, Davide Giangregorio is Masetto and Lavinia Bini is Zerlina. Two dates have been added to the four that were initially scheduled: Don Giovanni will be on stage on 18, 24, 26 and 31 July and on 2 and 8 August.

Il Trovatore by Giuseppe Verdi (25 July, 1 August) will be performed as a concert and conducted by Vincenzo Milletarì, a young talent who did his studies with Riccardo Muti and Fabio Luisi.

The singers include some of the most prominent artists on the international scene, such as Luciano Ganci (as Manrico), Roberta Mantegna (in her debut as Leonora, after a performance in French at the Verdi Festival in Parma), Sonia Ganassi (as Azucena), Massimo Cavalletti (as Il conte di Luna), Davide Giangregorio (as Ferrando) and Fiammetta Tofoni (as Ines). The Orchestra Filarmonica Marchigiana (FORM) is flanked by the Vincenzo Bellini chorus directed by Martino Faggiani.

Besides the two operas, the programme features a host of events to be held at the Sferisterio as part of the 2020 #biancocoraggio edition.

Born in 2019, the Palco Reverse series was created with the aim to give the audience a special point of view on the Sferisterio, standing on the stage and facing the stalls and boxes, under a beautiful sky.

For the 2020 edition of the festival, three events are scheduled, in line with the #biancocoraggio theme: on 22 July, actor and performer Massimiliano Finazzer Flory will perform with the audience on stage, to be followed by actress Laura Morante on 29 July and writer Michela Murgia on 5 August.

Finazzer Flory’s show, titled Verdi legge Verdi, offers a brand new reading of Giuseppe Verdi’s biography, giving voice to Verdi himself by means of selected letters dedicated to Italy, to music, politics, art and to three of his favourite authors, namely Dante Alighieri, Alessandro Manzoni and William Shakespeare.

Although Verdi is universally known for his music, he was a passionate reader who used to communicate mainly via written letters. The complexity of his relationship with feelings and with texts will be evoked in this show. Some of the festival singers and a pianist will be on stage with the main performer.

In Madame Tosca, Laura Morante will take the role of iconic actress Sarah Bernhardt, the muse for Victorien Sardou’s drama which Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa adapted as a libretto for Puccini’s opera.

Sarah Bernhardt is the main voice in Madame Tosca: forced on a chair after a leg amputation, she nonetheless kept performing. In this show, her life stories that inspired the great drama will be revived as one more, unforgettable woman artist with strong ties to Puccini’s masterpiece will be recalled, namely Maria Callas.

On stage with Laura Morante actress and musician Mimosa Campironi, a co-writer for this show, who will play the piano and perform music composed especially for Madame Tosca. The show is created in collaboration with Casa Musicale Sonzogno.

Michela Murgia arrives at the Sferisterio as an opera lover, with her own rewriting of Don Giovanni by Mozart, whose main characters are actually left unchanged: the protagonist, a libertine and a lier, is flanked by his untactful servant Leporello and by Don Ottavio, all of them portraying the still too common masculine stereotype.

The female universe is portrayed by three very different women: Donna Anna, virtuous and respectful of traditions, Donna Elvira, betrayed and scorned by Don Giovanni but nonetheless persuaded that she can change him, and Zerlina, a curious and sneering woman who often displays childish and frivolous attitudes.

To accompany Michela Murgia’s show an accordion, typical instrument of the Marche region, played by Giancarlo Palena. The project for this Don Giovanni is a collaboration with the Società dei Concerti based in Parma.

Besides all the events above, the Sferisterio stage will host a series of mixed concerts. The first one is …MaC’eraTa…nta Voglia di Musica, hosted on 19 July by Enrico Melozzi, who scored a great success in the 2019 edition of the festival with the 100 Cellos group. He is back this year with his Orchestra Clandestina and with rapper Anastasio as a special guest.

Gino Paoli and Danilo Rea (4 August) will offer a show made of piano music and voice, respectively from one of the most melodic and creative Italian pianists and a historic Italian author/singer. This performance will be unique, as the two artists normally improvise as they go along: Rea is an extremely talented musician and Paoli has always enjoyed experimenting with singing.

The final weekend of the festival is enlivened by new collaborations with two outstanding regional events that are known nationwide: Montelago Celtic Festival (7 August) and Musicultura Festival (9 August). Folk music and ambiance will be evoked in Sferisterio folk, a show by Michele and Maurizio Serafini featuring Luciano Monceri, bringing onto the Sferisterio stage one of the best-known artists in this field.

On 9 August, for the very final evening at the Sferisterio, Simone Cristicchi will perform as part of a collaboration between the Macerata Opera Festival and Musicultura. Cristicchi, a singer, songwriter, actor and radio presenter, is a multi-talented artist with a penchant for irony and details, capable of turning every story into a musical tale.

After 6 years of theatre performances and over 300,000 viewers, after participating with great success to the Sanremo music festival in 2019, Cristicchi comes to Macerata just as he releases his new album “Abbi Cura di Me” (Sony Music) which gathers his greatest hits.

The prolonged lockdown and the ensuing safety provisions have made it impossible for the festival to confirm the dance shows that had been scheduled, i.e. Don Juan (a new show created by Johan Inger) and the Gala with Svetlana Zakharova. Both have been rescheduled, along with the new staging of Tosca which was due to debut this year and will be staged in 2022.

One dance performance will nonetheless be offered to the audience: a choice has been made to stage Meraviglia by Alessandro Pietrolini with Compagnia Sonics Acrobati Volanti (28 July), which is perfect for the wide Sferisterio stage. Based on acrobatic performances, with ambiance and settings inspired by the “nouveau cirque”, Meraviglia offers an extraordinary view on fantastic places and creatures hanging from the sky.

For the Macerata Opera 4.0 award, a jury composed of Barbara Minghetti, Paolo Cantù, Fabrizio Grifasi, Francesco Lanzillotta, Emanuele Masi, Luciano Messi, Stefania Monteverde, Velia Papa and Marco Sinopoli has recently selected Bia. Un passo nuovo, una parola propria, among the four finalists. This is a project by Antonio Smaldone from ToTEAM, featuring Davide Gasparro (stage director, playwright), Marco Benetti (music), Stefano Zullo (set and costume designer) Riccardo Olivier (choreographer) and Paolo Vitale (light designer).

The show (24 July, venue to be confirmed) has been described by its ToTEAM authors with these words: “An eco-systematic sensibility, which is stronger in young people, demands the commitment of all. There is a need for radical change in our life pace, a new way to inhabit our planet, a renewed culture of the human. The beginning portrays a drained planet, alienated and self-destroyed, or better destroyed by its own living essence: a planet populated by beings which devour humans. Diversity, critical thinking, independent actions connected with the others, caring about a common future: these are all instances of courage. ToTEAM originates out of a pact between young artists that are all engaged in giving shape to these suggestions. We will be interviewing younger people and, just like elder brothers, we will help give shape to their vision. Our aim is to trace a new path and shape a renewed word”.

The Opera Night will also change its shape this year, turning into three nights and taking place in different part of the town: on 23 July events are scheduled in Corso Cairoli, on 30 July in Corso Cavour, on 6 August the final Opera Night takes the historic centre. More information will be made available in the coming days/weeks.

The three nights will showcase projects selected as part of the competition supported by Banco Marchighiano Credito Cooperativo Italiano, in a collaboration with the Municipality of Macerata and Confcommercio Marche Centrali.

The Macerata Opera Festival is created by Associazione Arena Sferisterio, with the Municipality of Macerata, the Province of Macerata, the Ministry for Cultural Heritage, Cultural Activities and Tourism, the Marche Region.

Special thanks to the Cento Mecenati association, supporting the Festival through the Art Bonus initiative.


Tickets will be on sale as from 9 June 2020.

All tickets purchased for the previously scheduled performances of Don Giovanni remain valid. Detailed information will be sent by email to those who already purchased their tickets.

Tickets purchased for Tosca and Il Trovatore will be converted into vouchers as from 9 June and they can be collected within 8 July (included). They are valid for 18 months from the date of issue and can also be used for all shows scheduled for 2020. Vouchers can only be redeemed on


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