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Rossini Opera Festival Pesaro 2024

G. Rossini

The point is a person feels good listening to Rossini. There is more of the Sublime in the snare‑drum part of ‘La gazza ladra’ overture than the whole Beethoven ‘Ninth Symphony’.
Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Note the auspicious date of this story: November 29, 2023. On the same date a mere 198 years ago, America welcomed the very first Italian-language opera on its soil. The Barber of Seville was presented–and encored and repeated for ten‑thousand further performances–has never lost its popularity. Either in New York, America, the world–and above all in the Adriatic seaside town of Pesaro, Italy.

Rossini was born here in 1792, and his parents (a trumpet-playing father and a soprano mother) encouraged their prodigy son, And yes, the Rossini family had to flee from Pesaro for the usual political reasons. Another Italian prodigy, Signor Frank Sinatra never returned to his New Jersey home. Gioachino Rossini always fondly remembered Pesaro throughout his decades of international fame.

When the Pesaro Opera House was about to open in 1818, their first production was La gazza ladra and Rossini himself came to conduct it. When Rossini died in 1868, he left almost all of his fortune to the Town Council of Pesaro to establish a school for free music education.

And how has Pesaro returned the memory of Rossini? That school is still open as a conservatory. A musicological institution restores many of the manifold rare operas of the composer. (He had written almost 50, as well as cantatas, oratorios and chamber music–during his last 40 years when he wrote almost nothing, except his great Mass.

Rossjni Birthplace/Teatro Rossini (© Rossini Opera Festival)

That is the start. Statues of Rossini, the Rossini Museum, a shoe shop, a yacht‑ refitting company and presumably hardware stores, brothels and restaurants (remember Tournedos alla Rossini? The Rossini Cocktail? The Champagne-induced Risotto Rossini?) are named after him, his 15th Century birthplace has been restored, as well as Teatro Rossini, the elegant opera house.

In other words, if you don’t like Rossini, sit on the beach!

This is architecture. The crown jewel of Rossiniana is the 45‑year‑old Rossini Opera Festival, An event so auspicious that the Italian Consul‑General to New York introduced the festival at a gala opening. Included were speeches by the Mayor of Pesaro and the Consul, as well as three Italian opera singers flown in for the occasion. Soprano Chiara Tirotta, tenor Pietro Adaíni and baritone Giuseppe Toia presented excerpts by Cenerentola, an opera so “common” and so “popular” that the Pesaro Opera Festival isn’t showing it.

G. Toia/C. Tirotta (© Compliments of the artists)

Instead, as the calendar shows below, only Barber is known throughout the world. This writer saw Il viaggio a Reims, several years ago at City Center. The music was not great, but what an opportunity for a director! An opera with doors, balconies, balustrades opening and closing through the whole production.

Now come operas so rare that only the most dedicated Rossini-lover knows of them. Like Rossini’s first biographer, Stendhal, who wrote of Rossini’s melodrama Bianca e Falliero, “The quartet is one of Rossini’s finest creations. ...a delightful thing for miserable and tender souls alike.” Marilyn Horne starred in the 1986 Pesaro production.

Following is the comedy L’equivoco stravagante, which disappeared after three performances, since the Italian Police closed it down for disrespect to the Army. After all, like Daughter of the Regiment, written three decades later, Rossini also has a woman disguised in the Army.

Finally, among the relative rarities is Ermione, based on the Racine tragedy, shown in seven performances–and never shown again for more than a century. Rossini never lost faith: “It’s my little Italian Guillaume Tell and it will not see the light of day until after my death.”

Along with two symphony orchestral concerts, this is August’s Rossini quintet, ready for any dedicated ConcertoNet reader. As the composer himself said, “Eating, loving, singing, and digesting are, in truth, the four acts of the comic opera known as life, and they pass like bubbles of a bottle of champagne. Whoever lets them break without having enjoyed them is a complete fool.”

Bianca e Falliero: August 7, 11, 14, 19
L’equivoco stravagante: August 8, 12, 16, 21
Ermione: August 9, 13, 17, 20
Il barbiere di Siviglia August 10, 15, 18, 22
Il viaggio a Reims: August 16, 19, 23

(For more information on ticketing etc, www.rossinioperafestival.it)

Harry Rolnick



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