After World War II, the Marche had very few occasions to listen to “bel canto”. In 1967, Carlo Perucci from San Benedetto del Tronto set up the “Opera circuit of the Marche”, in the hope to give life to a solid organization.
When he reached Macerata, he proposed to set up a performance at the Sferisterio and the managers of the time welcomed his suggestion with enthusiasm. Thus, the opera season was set up again and the excitement of the town mayor, Mr. Ballesi, became almost contagious. Within a short time, a new stage was built and three arched entrances were carved out of the background wall, while the whole theatre was equipped with a good lighting system.
Perucci also did his best to bring to Macerata a number of outstanding performers: Del Monaco and Protti for Verdi’s Otello but also Antonietta Stella and Nicola Ruggeri for Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Members of the orchestra came from every corner of the region, while the settings were so well-constructed that they almost seemed to be a natural backdrop. On 3 August, the lights went down and the notes of Verdi’s opera began to play: it was an incredible success.
At the end of the Eighties, the Municipality of Macerata, the Province administration and the civil society named “Eredi dei Cento Consorti” joined their efforts to give life to Associazione Arena Sferisterio, which was to organize and manage the summer opera seasons.
Since then, a summer festival called ‘Macerata Opera’ has been taking place each year, drawing audiences from all parts of Italy and beyond. The greatest fascination of each performance is provided by the Sferisterio itself, whose architectural beauty blends in with the settings and has made it possible for international directors to stage unforgettable operas. Among them are Don Giovanni directed by Job, La Traviata and Lucia di Lammermoor directed by Henning Brockhaus, Turandot by Hugo De Ana, Tosca and Faust by Deflo. Verdi’s opera Oberto conte di San Bonifacio, which was staged in 1999 at the nearby Lauro Rossi theatre, equally deserves special mention for the admiration it aroused. Over the years which saw Claudio Orazi as artistic director, the Sferisterio welcomed on its stage all the best international performers like Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Monserrat Caballè, Marilyn Horne, Fiorenza Cossotto, Ruggero Raimondi, Mariella Devia, Josè Carreras, Katia Ricciarelli and Renato Bruson.
Several awards have been given to Macerata Opera for its successful seasons; among them is the famous ‘Premio Abbiati’, three of which went to the Sferisterio in 1993. Moreover, three outstanding lyrical organizations in Italy (Opera di Roma, Comunale di Bologna and La Scala di Milan) have been staging productions borrowed from the Sferisterio, while in 2002 the success of Macerata Opera was crowned by the triumphant staging of Puccini’s Turandot in the most popular opera house in Tokyo and, subsequently, in the magnificent open-air theatre of Cesarea, Israel.